Identification of shareholder ethics and responsibilities in online reverse auctions for construction projects

Science and Engineering Ethics 10 (2):283-288 (2004)
The increasing number of companies providing internet services and auction tools helped popularize the online reverse auction trend for purchasing commodities and services in the last decade. As a result, a number of owners, both public and private, accepted the online reverse auctions as the bidding technique for their construction projects. Owners, while trying to minimize their costs for construction projects, are also required to address their ethical responsibilities to the shareholders. In the case of online reverse auctions for construction projects, the ethical issues involved in the bidding technique directly reflects on the owner’s ethical and social responsibilities to their shareholders. The goal of this paper is to identify the shareholder ethics and responsibilities in online reverse auctions for construction projects by analyzing the ethical issues for the parties involved in the process. The identification of the ethical issues and responsibilities requires clear definition and understanding of professional ethics and the roles of the involved parties. In this paper, first, the concept of professional ethics and social responsibility is described in a general form. To illustrate the ethical issues and responsibilities, a sample case of bidding for a construction project using online reverse auction techniques is presented in which the shareholders were actively involved in questioning the ethical issues. The issues involved in the bidding process and their reflection on the shareholder responsibilities are described and analyzed for each stage of the process. A brief discussion of the overall process is also included to address the general ethical issues involved in online reverse auctions.
Keywords reverse auction online bidding  competitive construction bidding  construction industry  ethics and social responsibility
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-004-0024-6
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