Week 11: Your Responsibility as a Project Manager

In Afghanistan corruption is said to be common in construction projects, as is illustrated in this video from Al Jazeera:

Corruption in construction projects globally is a serious issue. It inhibits economic growth and the standards of living of people in developing countries:

But corruption and ethical issues are not just a problem in the third world, they are also an issue in the West with the following video providing an example of a dispute over ethics in Tallahassee in the USA:

This week we examine the responsibilities of project managers and the standards of practice that are expected. This is an important area because project managers are often put in positions where they will have to make decisions on ethical practice.  The following video provides an introduction to the field of business ethics:

This post discusses the professional and social responsibilities that project managerts have. First we’ll look at the Project Management Code of Ethics from the Project Management Institute. Then we’ll consider conflicts of interest in an article from the Journal of Supply Chain Management. The following video is about corruption in a construction project in Sri Lanka:

The Project Management Institute’s Code of Ethics has five sections. The first provides the vision for the code and describes its applicability. The second covers responsibilities, the third discusses respect and the fourth is about fairness. The final section is on honesty.

The vision and purpose of the PMI code is that project managers will behave in an ethical fashion, representing the profession well. The code applies to Project Management Professionals and members of the PMI. It is structured with first explaining the values behind each section of the code and then outlining mandatory conduct, which it is expected that all project managers will adhere to and aspirational conduct that they will aspire to. The code is backed by the PMI and PMP holders who are found to have acted outside the code can have their professional certification withdrawn. All PMPs are also expected to report breaches of the code to the PMI if they observe them.

Responsibility is the first of the sections of the code that describes expected conduct. Responsibility is described as the ownership of decisions and consequences. The aspiractional aspects of the conduct of project managers are that they will work in the best interests of society, public safety and the environment, that they will only accept work that they are capable of doing, fulfill commitments made and deal properly with any errors and ommissions. They will respect the confidentiality of their clients and uphold the code for themselves and others. The mandatory standards are that they will obey regulations and legal requirmeents for the area that the project is being undertaken in and that they will handle ethics complaints properly. The following video describes a recent study by IBM of corporate social responsibility:

Ethics complaints and how they should be dealt with is dicussed in the next video:

Respect is the second area covered by the code and it is described as showing high regard for self, others and resources entrusted to the project manager. The aspirational aspects of this are to understand others’ customs, to listen to others’ views, deal directly with conflict and behave professionally at all times – even when others don’t. The mandatory aspects are that project managers will negotiate in good faith, not abuse their power to benefit at another’s expense, not to act in any way abusively and to respect the property rights of others. The following video discusses ethics and fairness at work.

The next video is about respect for sexual orientation and has been created by Accenture:

The next area of the code is focused on Fairness and it is described as the duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively. The aspirational standards for this section are that project managers will exercise transparency in decision making, will constantly re-examine their objectivity, provide equal access to information and make opportunities within the project equally available. The mandatory standards are that conflicts of interest will be dealt with properly and that there will be no favouritism or discrimination. The following video discusses the social and ethical aspects of delivering major projects:

Honesty is the final section of the code and it is described as acting in a truthful manner. The aspirational standards are that project manaders will seek to understand the truth, be truthful in their communications and conduct and provide accurate information in a timely manner. They will also make commitments in good faith and create an environment where others feel safe to tell the truth. The mandatory standards are that they will not engage in or condone behavior that is designed to decieve others and that they will not enage in dishonest behaviour for personal gain or at the expense of others. The following video is 19 minutes long and discusses honesty at work:

The article for this week of the course is on ethical behaviour in purchasing decisions. It provides a model for these decisions:

This week we have looked at ethics in project management, examing the PMI’s Code of Ethics and considering a model for ethical behaviour in purchasing. The final video is on global government corruption, particularly relevant in the increasingly global project environment:

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