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Ethics and Project Management by Ralph L. Kliem, PMP

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4
The Ethical Trends and Challenges
Confronting Project Managers
Before discussing some of the specic challenges that can cause stakehold-
ers on a project to face ethical dilemmas, this chapter addresses some of the
trends that precipitate them. e potential ethical issues that these trends
present can have considerable implications for projects, organizations, and
individuals, so it is important to recognize them.
4.1   GLOBALTRENDS
1. Greater globalization: Over the last 30 to 40 years, international
commerce has grown so dramatically that projects involving people
from dierent cultures have become the norm rather than the excep-
tion. is has presented some challenges from an ethical perspective.
Dierent customs, ways of doing business, laws, and governmental
regulations have added to the already complex world of project
management. Couple all that with language dierences, politics,
and history, and it is no surprise that the likelihood is high on these
projects that stakeholders will face some sort of ethical situation
or transgression.
2. Importance of intellectual property (IP): Intellectual property is inu-
encing projects to a greater degree than ever before. With the growth
in knowledge as a means of production comes the need to protect
knowledge to acquire and maintain competitive advantage. is
trend will increase with the corresponding growth in information
technology (IT) as a key way to seize market advantage. In today’s
70  •  Ethics and Project Management
work environment, projects involve many dierent disciplines in
various industries, with each specialty playing a critical role in suc-
cess or failure. IP plays a crucial role in protecting the output of
those specialties, which increases the chance of project managers
ending up in ethical dilemmas due to the rise of a knowledge-based
economy, the role of partnerships, and an increasingly competi-
tive environment.
3. More rights in the workplace: Although the laws still lean in favor of
the employer, employees are increasingly nding that their rights are
becoming more important than ever. A web of laws and regulations
from dierent governmental jurisdictions has aorded various legal
protections of employees, ranging from using computing technol-
ogy to hiring practices for people of dierent ethnicities. ese legal
measures have permeated all aspects of business, including the proj-
ect environment. Projects managers and other key stakeholders now
need greater awareness of these measures because whatever action
they take in response to an ethical dilemmas can have legal implica-
tions for their company and themselves.
4. Greater regulatory oversight: Government is increasingly regulating
the aairs of business. e relationships among all the entities and
systems have become more complex, with which comes the oppor-
tunity for something to go awry due to terrorism, corruption, or
political instability. Governments, whether by choice or force, will
get more and more involved in the aairs of businesses, especially
on projects. For instance, many trade laws apply to projects that pre-
clude the export of information or technology to other countries.
Other laws deal with the relations with certain categories of people.
Project managers can easily nd themselves in serious ethical situa-
tions and transgressions without realizing it and will end up facing
nes and penalties not just for their companies but also for them-
selves, not to mention potential imprisonment and embarrassment.
5. Outsourcing: is business practice in the business environment
morphs from one form of business arrangement to another (e.g., co-
sourcing, near sourcing). Outsourcing has been increasing, and will
continue to do so, as businesses seek ways to lower their costs and
escape regulations. Outsourcing, of course, can occur both domes-
tically and internationally (e.g., oset agreements), and although
it may raise revenues and avoid regulatory behavior, it also builds

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