Ethics in the construction industry: the prospects for a single professional code

Jim Mason (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to consider the potential for generating improved levels of ethical conduct within the construction industry through the introduction of a single industry‐wide professional code.


The Society of Construction Law's Statement of Ethical Principles (the Code) is used as a model. The paper consists of a detailed critical analysis of the Code which it places within the context of previous studies, internationally, on the role of unethical conduct within the industry, and of the role that criminal sanctions can play in addressing this.


The paper concludes that a single industry‐wide code has a contribution to make in improving the ethical standards of conduct within the industry. However, ethical improvement can ultimately only be delivered by reducing the numbers of situations where industry participants consider it necessary to seek an advantage at someone else's expense. Other measures – in particular an increase in the incidence of longer term relationships and collaborative working – are also likely to play an equally important role.


The paper provides a new interpretation of existing sources on business and professional ethics and offers new insights into the topic area by emphasising its relationship with collaborative working.



Mason, J. (2009), "Ethics in the construction industry: the prospects for a single professional code", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 194-204.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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