Answers to Questions of Ethics by Highway Contractors

In serving as an expert witness in a construction injury case, the lead author was confronted with the ethics of a contractor lending a piece of heavy construction equipment to another contractor when personnel of the lending contractor knew that there were unsafe features on the piece of equipment. In teaching a course in methods and management of highway construction, the same researcher was also confronted with the question about whether to teach students that those common unethical practices listed in construction textbooks are actually unethical activities, and so should be avoided. As construction projects become increasingly complex and more directly impact the standard of living enjoyed by the populous, ethical conduct is of paramount importance in the construction industry. This study was carried out to investigate and analyze the current state of ethical conduct in the highway construction industry by posing ethical dilemmas to members of the Florida transportation construction industry. A total of 61 telephone interviews were conducted, each consisting of six questions containing specific ethical situations. Two questions concerned unethical professional practices in the construction industry, bid shopping, and bid peddling. Other questions were based on hypothetical ethical dilemmas possibly faced by contractors that could result in severe legal consequences. The data collected via telephone interviews in this study were more reliable than other studies using questionnaires, as confusion about questions was resolved immediately. The average of over 23 years of experience of the interviewees in this study add to the credibility of the results. In addition, as only a few previous studies quantitatively analyzed the data acquired, this study employed a statistical method for data analysis. This paper makes the unique contribution of reporting on the responses of 61 current highway and bridge construction contractors to questions of an ethical nature, while incorporating a rigorous statistical analysis to the data. Overall, the results indicated that Florida transportation builders uphold a high level of ethical standard in their professional practice, at least in the areas in question, despite a minor deviation in one case.


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  • Accession Number: 01691053
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Dec 20 2018 3:54PM