Independent coaching – dealing with corrupt practices? - 01.06.12

Michael was the project manager for a significant project being delivered by a government agency in Australia.
He was very interested in the way in which Australia provided aid to developing countries.
He was particularly interested in the way in which Australia imposed conditions on the aid that it provided. One area of real interest to him was the area of dealing with corruption.

Michael researched the initiatives being developed and implemented by more developed countries when they provided aid to Third World countries.
Then, one day, Michael realised that perhaps these initiatives could apply to the area where he worked. In Australia. In a government agency.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) reports that almost 50% of private firms doing business with the NSW public service believe the service to be corrupt. ICAC surveyed 1,500 suppliers 55% of whom reported “improper favouritism” while 48% reported that gifts and benefits needed to be offered to win contracts. Some 39% reported that unequal information was provided to prospective tenderers. ICAC reports that 12% of complaints allege corruption in NSW government procurement and 30% of investigations find corrupt conduct.

He read an interesting article. This applied to those third world countries. A study carried out by people in developed countries.

“As corruption becomes more prevalent, legitimate project needs compete with illegitimate uses of project funds.

As corruption becomes routine many other factors conspire to make it complex and self-reinforcing. A culture of corruption develops. Individuals who would otherwise be honest are influenced by corrupt individuals both directly and indirectly.

Favouritism by a corrupt boss toward employees likely to provide payments influences these employees and forces them to participate in corrupt practices. People who do not participate do not receive promotions and pay raises.

Individual benefits which corruption yields, leads to the hoarding of key project management positions by relatively few individuals. Loyalty rather than qualification determines the assignment of other staff to project activities. This will affect many related, concurrent projects as key corrupt individuals and their underlings acquire additional project assignments.

In order to best participate in a corrupt system a person needs to be employed in a management position. Thus excessively complex management arrangements evolve.

A corrupt system deflates the value of work performed in project planning because subsequent planning decisions do not depend on a careful assessment of needs and goals, but rather on the need to maintain cash flow. Thus there is a continuing motivation to design new and large projects. A corrupt system can actually result in an increased flow of money and such a flow appears to be consistent with the goal of providing funds for development.

Importantly there is a direct influence of boss corruption on that of employees. An increase in the amount of boss corruption will increase the amount of employee corruption increasing overall corruption

Employee corruption is further increased by the degree of employee dependence on a boss. This is related to the importance of an employee’s need for job security. High unemployment would make finding another job difficult.

If employees fear for their jobs they are highly dependent on good relations with their bosses. ( In such a case bosses’ behavior becomes a primary component influencing the employees’ behavior. If the boss is corrupt the employee will need to support that corruption.”

At the end of reading this, Michael thought.

He thought as follows:

What is the difference between where I work and a Third World country? Probably the fact that the productivity in my country is going down, down, down, and everyone is saying that the government needs to change measures and legislation to allow industry better breaks in employing labour. As Michael knew, any dance required to partners. Those delivering the project, and the client. Corruption needs both to be involved.

Wouldn’t it be good if someone, or some organisation, could involve themselves between the project deliverers and the client. Someone who was provably non-corrupt. Perhaps, a projectcoach. If nothing else Michael expected that productivity would increase, because of those who engaged in corrupt conduct would be even more careful about directing him in weird, strange, and wonderful ways which had very little regard to productivity.

The question of ethics is one which necessarily exercises the minds of public officials in the performance of their normal duties. Every State public service has clearly stated rules of conduct to meet the probity and ethical standards associated with spending public monies. Despite this there are many stories of individuals who don’t believe the standards apply to them.

When we talk of probity what do we really mean? “Integrity, uprightness of character; conscientiousness, honesty, sincerity.”

Related posts:

  1. The MD’s dilemma
  2. Coaching and productivity gains in infrastructure creation for Australia
  3. People become demotivated, so do something
  4. Our proposal ….
  5. Dealing with problems outside of the Project Manager’s control

1 Comment to “Independent coaching – dealing with corrupt practices?”

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