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An assessment of quantity surveyors’ ethical perceptions in terms of stakeholder versus self-interests prioritisation.

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An ethical company creates competitive advantage over its peers which in turn translate into bottom-line profits. Part of ensuring that quantity surveyors working in any sector are balancing their approach on ethical issues is ensuring that they harmonise prioritisation of interests of various stakeholders involved in or affected by the services they offer. The stakeholders’ interests which are critical for quantity surveyors include public interests and client interests. Previous studies done in Asia noted a trend in which quantity surveyors’ ethical perceptions on prioritisation of various stakeholder interests were differing by experience. More senior quantity surveyors prioritised public interests more, whilst junior quantity surveyors revealed they would prioritise employer and self-interests first before public interests; which raised concerns by the public including dangers of likely more potential conflicts of interests. The main aim of this research was to assess the ethical perceptions of quantity surveyors at a local South African quantity surveying service providing firm, in terms of their prioritisation of self-interests versus interests of other stakeholders. A total of 51 out of 53 quantity surveyors at the chosen firm participated. Firm was chosen based on its ease-of-reach to the researcher. A questionnaire was administered in person and data analyses were conducted which included Independent t-tests, Factor Analyses and One-Way ANOVAs. Results revealed the order of prioritisation of stakeholder interests by quantity surveyors at the firm as follows: (1) clients, (2) employer/company, (3) public, (4) superiors, (5) themselves, (6) family and (7) colleagues. Whilst public interests were ranked third and client interests ranked first, there were notable differences in level of prioritisation between professionally-affiliated members as compared to non-members; as well as differences in prioritisation noted by employees’ ‘level of experience’, ‘level of education’ and ‘position.’ It is recommended based on results from the study that ethics knowledge should be indoctrinated to junior and less experienced surveyors through encouraging career advancements. Quantity surveying companies should always keep ethics at the centre within their organisational culture, and should at all times prioritise key stakeholder interests (public and clients) before self-interests. The study can benefit quantity surveyors and firms employing quantity surveyors.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.