The application of causality to construction business ethics

Byung Gyoo Kang, Francis Edum-Fotwe, Andrew Price, Tony Thorpe

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate two causality concepts, sphere of control (SOC) and agent-action-results (AAR), and their potential applications to construction business ethics. SOC is used in ethics training, and AAR is applied to ethical decision-making (EDM). Design/methodology/approach: A framework of ethics training and a framework of EDM for construction companies have been developed. Interviews were conducted with experienced construction engineers and PhD ethicians to test the validity of the EDM framework. Findings: Literature review has been conducted in ethical issues, ethics training and EDM, leading to the developments of the frameworks. The framework of ethics training incorporates SOC to reflect the ethicality and personality traits. The framework of EDM is based on AAR, combined with a stakeholder approach and Kohlberg's cognitive moral development theory, with a review from EDM models in business. Both frameworks include project-level component to reflect the unique feature of the construction industry. The framework of EDM showed a good practicality through the interviews on an ethical dilemma example. Research limitations/implications: For the ethics training framework, a long-term observation or survey should be accompanied to evaluate the framework in detail, tracing the improvement of ethicalness of course participants. Practical implications: The customized ethics training will be more efficient and effective, as it considers individual ethicality. The scoring system of the EDM framework is simple and practical. This is particularly relevant for construction ethics management, considering that most of construction practitioners are engineers, not philosophers or psychologists. Originality/value: Applying causality concepts, SOC and AAR, to construction ethics is a novel approach in construction management. This research has made a good advancement in construction ethics management by providing the right directions to be explored in these new areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-568
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Responsibility Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent-action-results (AAR)
  • Causality
  • Construction project
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Ethics training
  • Sphere of control (SOC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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