Ethics in Project Management

Christophe Bredillet (“Aristotelian Insights” author) has provided the theory that traditional ‘codes of ethics’ should be revisited or redesigned, and base upon an Aristotelian approach. Do you agree this applies to the PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct? Why or why not?

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The article written by Christophe Bredillet suggests the superiority of Aristotelian ethics over deontological and consequentialist approaches represented by many standard codes of ethics, such as the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The idea behind the Aristotelian code of ethics, according to the author, is to help form an individual who would be capable of making ethical decisions, rather than providing a series of rules and guidelines that the individual would operate on (Bredillet, 2014). Such a framework would allow for more flexible decision-making, which should make Aristotelian ethics more adaptable to the ever-changing demands and conditions of the business environment. Thus the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct could be potentially revised and redesigned in order to adhere to these principles.

John C. Maxwell believes that “The Golden Rule” (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is potentially a singular global truth for project management, cross-culturally. Do you agree with this assertion? Why or why not?

The concept of the “Golden Rule” was introduced by John C. Maxwell in 2003 in his book titled “There’s No Such Thing as Business Ethics: There’s Only One Rule for Making Decisions.” The author makes the claim that the notion of “doing unto others what one wishes others to do unto them” is the single global truth that governs project management (Maxwell, 2003). I disagree with this notion. While it is certainly a rule that governs interpersonal relationships, it cannot be fully applied to management. The problem with any ethical framework used in a business is that setting rules for oneself make it harder to compete against companies that follow different sets of rules. Many companies state their ethical principles on their web pages, but very few actually follow them. An ethics system is useless if nobody follows it. Right now, the only universal ethical truth of management sounds like this: “Unethical practices are bad for business only when the public finds out about them.”


Bredillet, C. (2014). Ethics in project management: Some Aristotelian insights. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 7(4), 548-565.

Maxwell, J. C. (2003). There’s no such thing as business ethics: There’s only one rule for making decisions. New York, NY: Warner Books.

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