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Embeddedness of codes of ethics in construction organizations

Olugbenga Timo Oladinrin (Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Christabel Man-Fong Ho (Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 18 January 2016




The existence of codes of ethics in most organizations does not seem to have reduced unethical behaviour especially in the construction organizations due to lack of effective ethics management such as embeddedness of ethical codes. The purpose of this paper is to bridge the current knowledge gap by highlighting the principal factors determining the embeddedness of codes of ethics in construction organizations.


Questionnaires detailing 30 factors determining ethical code embeddedness were sent to professionals in construction organizations in Hong Kong. In total, 160 valid responses were analysed by mean score and exploratory factor analysis.


Based on the mean score, “protecting anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing”, “managers acting as role models” and “giving code standards with explanation to new employees” are the three factors that ranked highest. From the results of factor analysis, six factors were extracted, including; process of code internalization, identification and remover of barriers, process of enacting value, process of accountability, process of coding and process of monitoring. These are processes that enable proper integration of codes of ethics within construction organization.

Research limitations/implications

While this study has provided useful information regarding ethical codes, the limitation is inherent in the population of the study in that, percentage representation of construction organizations in Hong Kong could not be presented. This was due to the sensitivity of ethics as perceived by construction practitioners. The authors, at the initial stage, sent invitation letters to several organizations inviting them to participate in the research but they all declined. Therefore, the data collection approach discussed earlier was adopted and the questionnaire was made strictly anonymous which made it difficult to classify organizations that are represented. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this paper will engineer a change in research direction and open up new discussion channels.


The results presented in this study provide sufficient evidence and useful pointers to clarify some misconceptions about factors determining code embeddedness. These findings help to clarify what the high-prioritized factors are, and could also be used as an assessment tool to evaluate performance of an organization regarding codes of ethics and thus help to identify areas requiring improvement.



The work described in this paper was supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (PolyU K-QZ14).


Oladinrin, O.T. and Ho, C.M.-F. (2016), "Embeddedness of codes of ethics in construction organizations", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 75-91.



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