Ethical Dilemmas in Project Management

Introduction

Project management is the discipline that deals with planning, managing and organizing resources for the successful achievement of explicit project aims and objectives. It is often confused with program management but the latter is a high management level. A project is a short-term venture which has a definite beginning and an ending. It is undertaken for the accomplishment of specific aims and objectives. Short-term ventures differs from the business operations which are often permanent thus requires separate management. Project management is faced with one major challenge; the achievement of aims and objectives using the given constraints such as time, extent, and budget.

The study of project management is offered in many colleges and universities where students are trained on how to manage projects. Skills acquired from such trainings includes; organizational skills, planning, among others. Students are trained on how to use the available resource to achieve the projects goals and objectives. It is not one of the easy courses that one can take but it gives important insights on how one can even manage his own projects. This paper looks into project management education, licensing, organization membership and ethical dilemmas faced by project managers.

Project Management Education

The study of project management is open to any individual who feels that he has the willpower and the strength to handle the challenges of project management. Some colleges and campuses require individuals who have worked for at least two years in a business enterprise and should have some experience in project management. Project management education equips one with the skills and self-assurance of introducing new products and services to the market.

It helps in career advancement and in making contributions to the organization. After the successful completion of project management education, one is issued with a project management certificate. This certificate is a sign of having acquired the skills required in addressing the challenges associated with project management. Individuals who complete the education successfully become effective project managers who receive great respect in the organization and are given other responsibilities. Some students are not satisfied with the basic project education management and may decide to enroll in master’s programs (Heerkens, 2007).

The master’s certificate signifies that, an individual has become an expert in project management and proves that he has an understanding and capability to relate the tactical and operation features involved in project management.

Organizational Membership

Some organizations have been formed by individuals who have completed the project management education. These organizations are headed by a board of directors elected by the members. The board of directors is responsible for planning and conducting the organization. The purpose of such an organization is not to make profit but to offer their services. Only individuals with project management certificates are allowed to become members of these organizations. Heerkens (2007) observed that the organization’s objectives include:

  1. To establish the special concepts and attitudes in project management
  2. To identify an efficient information support that influences the skills and know-how of members
  3. To work in partnership with other organizations for the improvement of knowledge, technology, and proficiency of members
  4. To provide education to members to increase their knowledge in project management

Project Management Licensing

Individuals who have obtained project management certification often work as consultants in firms or organization. After servicing for sometime, they become accountable for specific projects and they can manage their own time with no added responsibilities. Some consultants are given the responsibility of supervising teams working on compound projects. They develop a desire for starting up their own business whereas others choose to become partners in the firm. Before an individual is given the certificate of establishing his own business, he must meet the required level of education and experience. More to that, he must pass an exam that covers the code of ethics practiced in the country and should forward client’s evaluations.

Code of Ethics

Project management practitioners are expected to conduct themselves in an honorable manner. Standards have been set which define their work irrespective of the working environment (at home, work or in service of the profession). The code of ethics describes behaviors expected from project managers. The purpose of this code of ethics is to instill discipline and self-assurance to the practitioners of project management profession. Project managers are expected to take responsibilities for the decision they make or fall short of making (Cleland & Ireland, 2004). They are expected to show respect to their fellow practitioners, clients, and resources given to them. Project management practitioners are expected to be fair in making decision and their conduct should not be influenced by self interest or prejudice. Honesty is required in their communication and conduct. The code of ethics is enforced by member organization.

Ethical Dilemmas in the Profession of Project Management

In many cases, project managers are faced with issues that cannot be resolved by the knowledge acquired from education. Most of these problems are human resource issues or ethical issues. There is no definite answer to these problems and it varies with the circumstances surrounding the problem. In such circumstances, project managers must use their practical experience, ethical commitments, and the rule of law to address the problems.

An example of an ethical problem that leaves the project managers in a dilemma is the issue on customs and local laws practiced in different countries. Project managers dealing with international projects are often faced with these problems. Some practices are accepted in some countries but are prohibited in others. In some countries the issuing of money to the official from a foreign government to obtain work permits may be seen as a bribe.

For example in United States, the payment of money to receive a work permit or for the purpose of retaining a business is seen as bribe. Nevertheless, some payments are allowed such as payments for distribution of permits, or for police protection (Henn, 2009). Projects managers are therefore left in a dilemma of what is the right thing or the ethical thing to do. It is advisable for project managers to have a set of guiding principles. In line with this, some companies have gone to the extent of establishing a set of guidelines to assist the project managers

Another ethical dilemma faced by project managers is lack of corporation from other staffs. Project managers cannot work alone and have to rely on the work done by other staffs. They assign duties which have to be executed on time for the successful completion of the project. Most of the time, these employees do not comply or they may chose to ignore the duties assigned to them. In such cases, the project managers are left at a dilemma on whether to discipline such employees or to report them to the human resource management. Some projects are risky and require maximum concentration which not only leaves the managers at a dilemma but also poses a challenge to them (Cory, 2004).

According to Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell (2006), project management is responsible for introducing new products and services to the market for a certain organization. Most organizations introduce new products into the market in order to fight competition. If the organization’s expectations are not fulfilled after the introduction of products to the market, the blame falls on the project managers. They are held responsible for the failure without taking into consideration other factors that might have contributed to the failure.

International project managers are faced with issues related to law enforcement in different countries. For example, in U.S drug testing is mandatory in almost all companies and it is not allowed in others such as Canada. A project manager from Canada may encounter problems when dealing with U.S companies. The manager could be having a project in Canada which requires some of his employees to work from U.S. In Canada drug testing is not allowed but the employees cannot be permitted to enter United States without submitting to the drug test. In such instances, the project managers are left wondering which law they should comply with (Jennings, 2008).

Conclusion

Project management is a discipline responsible for planning and organizing available resources for the successful completion of projects. Projects have goals and objectives which have to be fulfilled. To acquire skills in project management, an individual has to attend an institution of higher learning. It is in these institutions that individuals acquire skills and expertise for carrying out the responsibilities of a project manager. After acquiring certification in project management an individual can work in firms or become a member of an organization.

Project managers are faced with ethical dilemmas which include but not limited to; issues of customs and laws practiced in different countries, lack of corporation among employees, organization competition and conflicting laws in different countries.

Reference List

Cleland, D. I. & Ireland L. R. (2004). Project manager’s portable handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Cory, J. (2004). Business ethics: the ethical revolution of minority shareholders. Woodstock: Springe.

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J & Ferrell, L. (2006). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. London: Cengage Learning.

Heerkens, G. R. (2007). Project Management: 24 Steps to Help You Master Any Project Mighty Manager. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Henn, S. K. (2009). Business Ethics: A Case Study Approach. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Jennings, M. M. (2008). Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings. South-western Legal Studies in Business Academic Series. London: Cengage Learning.