Causal Factors of Corruption in Construction Project Management: An Overview

Emmanuel Kingsford Owusu, Albert P.C. Chan, Ming Shan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


The development of efficient and strategic anti-corruption measures can be better achieved if a deeper understanding and identification of the causes of corruption are established. Over the past years, many studies have been devoted to the research of corruption in construction management (CM). This has resulted in a significant increase in the body of knowledge on the subject matter, including the causative factors triggering these corrupt practices. However, an apropos systematic assessment of both past and current studies on the subject matter which is needful for the future endeavor is lacking. Moreover, there is an absence of unified view of the causative factors of corruption identified in construction project management (CPM). This paper, therefore, presents a comprehensive review of the causes of corruption from selected articles in recognized construction management journals to address the mentioned gaps. A total number of 44 causes of corruption were identified from 37 publications and analyzed in terms of existing causal factors of corruption, annual trend of publications and the thematic categorization of the identified variables. The most identifiable causes were over close relationships, poor professional ethical standards, negative industrial and working conditions, negative role models and inadequate sanctions. A conceptual framework of causes of corruption was established, after categorizing the 44 variables into five unique categories. In descending order, the five constructs are Psychosocial-Specific Causes, Organizational-Specific Causes, Regulatory-Specific Causes, Project-Specific Causes and Statutory-Specific Causes. This study extends the current literature of corruption research in construction management and contributes to a deepened understanding of the causal instigators of corruption identified in CPM. The findings from this study provide valuable information and extended knowledge to industry practitioners and policymakers as well as anti-corruption agencies in the formulation and direction of anti-corruption measures. To corruption researchers in CM, this study is vital for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019


  • Construction
  • Corruption
  • Cultural dimensions
  • Project management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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