The lack of a prescribed set of ethical behaviors within most project groups has major impacts on the organizations using these groups as internal service providers.
In the examples earlier, three of the organizations involved invested substantial money, resources, and technology on projects that should not have been approved (in one case, many millions of dollars were involved). The remaining organizations' investment in external and internal consultancy, productivity measurement software, and performance appraisal processes were compromised by widespread "cooking of the books."
The implications, however, go far beyond simple investment or measurement issues. The existence and acceptance of such behavior challenges the control of the information system effort.
In eXtreme project management, the adoption of a partnership or fully independent service relationship between computing groups and business clients must be based on a code of ethics that recognizes the fundamental right of clients to control their own businesses.
A second and perhaps less dramatic impact of the lack of prescribed ethical codes is the personal impact on individual project people. In discussions with thousands of project people, it has become clear that many do understand that, in some cases, their behavior is unprofessional and unethical. However, the individual team leader or project manager must face these dilemmas and conflicts of interest by using their own values as a guide as their managers and often their organizations provide no formal ethical framework. As reported by Dwyer (1993), only 42% of Australian companies have a formal code of ethics and the majority of these are orientedtoward being compliant with the Australian Securities Commission duties of directors.
For the vast majority of project people, there has been no formal opportunity to discuss the issues of ethics. As a result, they either use precedent behavior that they have observed in their peers and managers or attempt to draw some guidelines for their behavior from their organization's general practices. Unfortunately, as the excesses of the 1980s continue to be revealed, there are many examples of questionable corporate ethics that provide little support for an individual looking to his or her organization for guidelines on ethical behavior.