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Ethical behaviours in e-commerce based construction procurement process

By Vera Li

Abstract

Electronic commerce is increasingly applied in commercial fields, no exception to construction procurement process. But coming with it, also creates many problems, many of them remain as hot issues for both researchers and stakeholders in industries and have not been solved, though enormous efforts have been offered from different parties involved, among which, ethics in e-commerce enabled construction procurement process stays on top of all. This thesis investigates ethical issues related to the e-commerce application in the construction industry. Research methods used in this study include a thorough literature review, a questionnaire survey, interviews and a case study. These studies were conducted in August 2004. The samples studied in my thesis included a group of 30 experienced construction professionals who were attending a MBA distance learning programme offered by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Beijing. Through these studies, various construction ethical issues such as computer ethics and corruption in the e-commerce enabled construction procurement process are thoroughly discussed and patterns of ethical behaviors were identified. Specifically, through the questionnaire and interviews, it was identified that the majority of the respondents (70%) agreed that ethical atmosphere is almost nonexistent in the China construction industry. The majority (78%) also agreed that there was only a little ethical awareness. However, the majority of respondents (51%) believed that there is a positive relationship between ethical behavior and long-term profitability of the company. On the other hand, the respondents' views were divided when judging the relationship between ethical behaviour and short-term profitability as 40% believed the relationship between ethical behaviour and short-term profitability of the company was uncritical, while 43% believed there was a strong relationship between them. The majority of respondents (63%) also confirmed that ethics was never discussed with companies. When asked on the difficulties encountered in developing a strong ethical awareness in the company, respondents cited various reasons including the lack of support from senior management; prevailing trend in the industry, negative impact on long-term and short-term profitability. The majority of respondents (90%) also chose "keep silent" when asked if they spotted unethical behaviors. Finally, the majority of respondents (90%) believed that unethical behaviors increase the cost of procurement by at least 10%. The interviews and case study reinforced the findings and revealed reasons for the ethical behaviors in China construction industry. Based on these findings, this study has proposed several remedial measures in order to prevent unethical behaviors. In addition, scope for further research is also identified

Topics: ethical behaviours, construction procurment, e-commerce, questionnaire survey
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:16315

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