Why are ethics important in built environment?

Ritika Bhatia, Assistant Professor talks about the importance of ethical decision making in real estate projects and why built environment industry should support the highest levels of ethics. 

27 June 2018

Expert Talk


Ethics is difficult to characterize and it ought to have a definition justifiable or pertinent to more than a couple, as in philosophical ethics. With regards to the assembled condition, proficient ethics are frequently cited as expert codes of training; however there is some feedback with regards to the adequacy of these codes and some open doubt that they might be self-serving.

The built condition is somewhat similar to the air that we inhale; surrounding us, with the exception of it is not free. Real Estate and Construction professionals are firmly required in the development and allocation of economic, social and environmental value and this implies conceivably everybody in the society is influenced by looking over ethics.

The built environment describes the man-made environment in which we live, and in recent years there have been particular ethical and moral issues that are connected with the development and maintenance of the built environment, which includes buildings, engineering structures and the spaces, mix and juxtaposition of such structures. The development life cycle of an asset can be described as the urban planning, inception, design, development control, construction, occupation/use and deconstruction of development, when the cycle might then restart. Amid this period various experts are included in settling on choices which have a long haul impact on the prosperity of the greater part of our lives, regardless of whether we are included as customers, providers or as spectators influenced by the improvement of the built environment. It is regularly hypothesized that a partner approach is fitting where the necessities of a wide range of gatherings are considered.

However, the existing way of doing things allows most of the decisions about the building to be made by the developer or client and the designer. They in turn have the best access to the planning authorities who are charged to act as the community’s final arbiter in assessing the acceptable social and political impact.
Ethical decision-making

Ethical decision-making is an important procedure, because most of us at some time have to make decisions on behalf of others which can be judged as good or bad or right or wrong decisions that must satisfy our standards and values. This might end up being a compromise, so how do we judge what is acceptable? Harrison (2005) distinguishes five types of ethical investigation. Philosophical or meta-ethics (about ethics) may define the dilemma or even give us a moral answer, but may be quite theoretical. Normative ethics may give us one answer, depending on which view we follow. Practical ethics may provide us with more rules of application and practical models often combine more than one normative approach to suit particular organisational values. Descriptive ethics uses empirical studies and experiential learning to guide understanding and give principles or precedents for decisions. This makes it important for the observations to be relevant to the context and may take a long time to evolve.

The basis of ethics – good and bad, right and wrong

Ethics is an arrangement of good standards by which human activities are judged right or wrong, good or bad. The Roman statesman, Cicero, urged business people to revise their thinking and understand that true success does not come from trickery and deception but from moral goodness, both in thought and in action. Agents must stop thinking about who is right in the battle for real estate reform and start thinking about what is right. Ethics is the right way.

“High ethical standards should be seen as part of an employer organisation’s good governance and through this, its competitive advantage, because offering a high quality service to the public will raise the profile of the employing organisation (which is likely to be reflected in its balance sheet) and thus enhance the reputation of the entire surveying profession as well as that of its employees.” (Plimmer et al. 2009: 24)

The real estate industry should support the largest amount of ethics in business practice to advance and save the privilege to possess, utilize, trade and exchange real property. It is basic that professionals inside the industry know moral gauges, comprehend why they are vital, and keep them. It is basic that specialists maintain a strategic distance from separation in real estate exchanges and in addition any demonstration of distortion, misrepresentation or deliberate demonstration of misdirection, otherwise called extortion. Exploitative practice is precluded in all parts of real estate work on including promoting, property divulgence, listing agreements, promptings, the holding of sincere cash and contract assistance.

The Business Ethics Synergy Star (BESS) is a way of trying to set out the business motive B and ethics motive E with the objective O while at the same time identifying and trying to reconcile and balance the two opposing motivators Z and -Z which generally emerge because of the nature of a dilemma. In the Figure, the developer’s dilemma is set out and B and E depend upon Z and -Z respectively.

This dilemma can be resolved by looking at the axis B – −Z where the developer can build up a reputation because of the quality of the building and can look at ways of being able to charge more for the building because of their reputation, and thus make more of a profit in the medium-term as their reputation grows. The developer can afford to be trustworthy when making a profit and indeed would lose the ability to charge more if they let people down.

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