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Construction: The need to build a cleaner image

Written by Guest on Thursday, 14 November 2013

A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) found that of the 700 construction professionals surveyed, nearly half perceive that corruption in the industry is either fairly or extremely common. We asked Deputy Chief Executive of CIOB to discuss the findings further.


A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) found that of the 700 construction professionals surveyed, nearly half perceive that corruption in the industry is either fairly or extremely common. We asked Deputy Chief Executive of CIOB to discuss the findings further.

Transparency International’s 2011 Bribe Payers Index identified public works contracts and construction as the most susceptible sector to bribery and corruption. The complex and fragmented nature of the industry creates an environment suitable for corruption with numerous participants in the supply chain competing for big money projects. And in a recent CIOB survey of UK construction professionals about corruption in the sector there is little evidence to change those perceptions of the industry.

The survey respondents were self-selecting however findings revealed that of the 700 construction professionals surveyed, nearly half perceive that corruption in the industry is either fairly or extremely common, with more than one in three indicating that they had been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.

These figures make for uncomfortable reading considering a similar survey we ran in 2006 found that 51% of respondents felt that the UK construction industry was corrupt. Given the raft of regulation and legislation available to the UK, aimed at preventing corruption and encouraging free and fair competition, why then do nearly half of the professionals in the survey perceive there to be such a problem?

Well, respondents to the survey suggest that there are a number of embedded cultural practices that act as the ‘norm’ for the industry. Furthermore, the impact of the recession has been highlighted as another reason for the prevalence of corruption, noting squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads have pressurised some individuals into corrupt practices as a means to survive.

Of course, we must note that the effects of corruption can be much more devastating than the loss of trade. The recent collapse of the Dhaka Rana Plaza in Bangladesh exemplifies the dangers that bribery and corruption plays in the planning and construction process.

So what can be done to sweep up the dirty image of the industry and build a cleaner outlook for construction?

Internationally implementing greater transparency in publicly financed construction projects will enable citizens to understand how their resources are spent and by whom meanwhile holding decision makers and their choices to account. And, we need to use our anti-bribery legislation to effect so that perpetrators and miscreants think twice about their action.

However, the private sector also needs to raise the levels and quality of anti-corruption training. A commitment to training and compliance should not be seen as a burdensome and costly process but a visible commitment to anti-corruption and ethical standards. For the resources-resources-business this can lead to greater profitability new resources-resources-business and bring back trust in the industry.

Michael Brown is Deputy Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). Michael has worked for the CIOB for 20 years, originally as Director of Education. Michael was the founder Chair of PIUK China, a collaborative group of 17 built environment and engineering institutions working together in China, and is a Board member of the Society for the Environment.

 

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Read 5431 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47

Guest

The TI-UK blog features thought and opinion from guest writers as well as TI staff. Any opinions expressed by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Transparency International UK.

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