Ethics in the construction Industry in Zambia

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Mukumbwa, Makumba Brown Brian
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Unethical practices are prevalent in the construction industry. Bid rigging, corruption,fraud, collusion, coercion, price differentiation, tampering with claims and payments certificates, conflict of interest, embezzlement and tender manipulation have been reported in construction literature world-wide. In Zambia, the Auditor General’s reports almost on a yearly basis report poor quality works, uncompleted projects, over payments and abandoned works among other unethical practices in the construction sector.The study was aimed at providing a greater understanding of the unethical practices prevalent in the construction industry in Zambia. The main aim of the study was to develop a framework for measuring the presence of integrity systems in construction organisations.To achieve the main aim, the specific objectives were: identification of unethical practices prevalent in the construction industry in Zambia; assessment of the extent to which unethical practices affect different phases of construction projects; and establishment of the factors that enhance integrity in construction organisations.Interviews, a questionnaire survey and three case studies were used to collect data. A purposive, non probability sampling method was identified as suitable for the interviews.Fifteen professionals with many years of experience in the construction sector were identified and interviewed. A stratified random sample was used in the questionnaire survey. Stratified random sampling ensures that a sample adequately represents selected groups in the population. The first step was to classify the population into strata, or groups, on the basis of common characteristics such as profession. The classification was done so that every member of the population was found in one and only one stratum. Separate random samples were then drawn from each stratum. The interviewees and respondents to the study were from construction organisations and interest groups in Zambia.The results from the study indicated that unethical practices were prevalent in all phases of construction projects in Zambia. Unethical practices such as political interference, bribery, corruption, lack of confidentiality, collusion, uncompetitive tendering, certification of poor quality works, fabrication of test results at expense of the quality, lack of integrity, negligence and covering up project failure, among others, were identified. A framework to assess the presence of integrity systems in construction organisations was developed and validated. The framework was tested on construction organisations in Zambia. Except for:structures to support ethics; provision of training and education in ethics; and communication of ethical issues to stakeholders, it was established that integrity systems were moderately developed in construction organisations that were sampled. However, data collected using three case studies suggested that in order to portray a better ethical image of their firms, respondents may not have been truthful in the information they provided. There was an observation that the sensitive nature of ethics could have contributed to respondents not responding truthfully.It was recommended that the framework for assessing the presence of integrity systems in construction organisations be implemented in Zambia. The framework if implemented in construction organisations, can contribute to lowering the incidences of unethical practices. Benchmarking of best practices in combating unethical practices, such as implementation of the British Standards BS10500, was recommended for construction organisations in Zambia. Training and education in ethics was established to be low in the construction sector in Zambia. Provision of training and education in learning institutions and at places of work was also recommended.
Construction Industry-Management , Construction Industry-Moral and Ethics Aspects , Business Ethics.