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Sci Eng Ethics. 2019 Feb 6. doi: 10.1007/s11948-019-00089-0. [Epub ahead of print]

Distinguishing Characteristics of Corruption Risks in Iranian Construction Projects: A Weighted Correlation Network Analysis.

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School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, VIC, 3220, Australia.
School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, VIC, 3220, Australia.
Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, University Drive, Bruce, ACT, 2617, Australia.
Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong.
Department of Construction Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering, University Technology Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia.


The construction industry consistently ranks amongst the highest contributors to global gross domestic product, as well as, amongst the most corrupt. Corruption therefore inflicts significant risk on construction activities, and overall economic development. These facts are widely known, but the various sources and nature of corruption risks endemic to the Iranian construction industry, along with the degree to which such risks manifest, and the strength of their impact, remain undescribed. To address the gap, a mixed methods approach is used; with a questionnaire, 103 responses were received, and these were followed up with semi-structured interviews. Results were processed using social network analysis. Four major corruption risks were identified: (1) procedural violations in awarding contracts, (2) misuse of contractual arrangements, (3) neglect of project management principles, and, (4) irrational decision making. While corruption risks in Iran align with those found in other countries, with funds being misappropriated for financial gain, Iran also shows a strong inclination to champion projects that serve the government's political agenda. Root cause identification of corruption risks, namely, the noticeable impact of authoritarianism on project selection in Iran, over criterion of economic benefit or social good, is a significant outcome of this study.


Construction projects; Corrupt practice; Corruption; Risk management; Social network analysis; Unethical practice


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