Ethics in Project Management — Research on Values-Based Leadership in Project Driven Arenas


Ethics in Project Management —
Research on Values-Based Leadership in Project Driven Arenas

By William A Moylan, PhD, PMP, and, Loran W Walker, PhD, PMP



The paper addresses the values-based leadership skills, values and concepts of ethical project management professionals, and, considers the applicability of this leadership construct to the processes of managing major projects in different industries and applications.  The research study on which the paper is based addresses the suitability of a values-based leadership approach for leading project teams, with a focus on improving the partnerships within project-driven industries. The project-driven industries for this research include a) facility construction & design, b) information technology (both systems development and telecommunications), c) new product development related programs, and d) manufacturing related areas.

The main research question addressed is: “Can the application of values-based leadership skills, values and concepts improve the processes of project management, especially within project-driven industries?”  A follow on to this research question is the hypothesis of: “Values-based leadership skills, values, and concepts are highly applicable to the processes of project management, in particular, in the leading of programs from concept through completion.”  The paper on this research assesses the eleven leadership values postulated in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, as means to establish an ethical rubric within project-driven industries.

The research used a quantitative approach to assess the critical elements of this topic.  On previous research on this topic, a mixed methods approach was found appropriate to identify the values shared between the leader and followers (qualitative), review the values-base for the particular application (quantitative), and compare the leader’s ethical values with the organization (mixed methods).


Research on values-based leadership [VBL] and ethics in project-based industries and applications pose interesting challenges. In the past decade, ethics and professional conduct has become a very “hot” topic in academia (especially in graduate level programs of business, engineering and management), within professional society discussion circles, and, throughout all levels of government. Unfortunately there is a paucity of substantial research available that points the way for professional conduct improvement.

In performing research on ethics in construction and VBL (Moylan, 2005), one of the major areas that emerged requiring additional study is the topic of this research paper. The author considered expanding the research study on the applicability of values-based leadership to other project-driven industries in order to show the relevance of ethics and professional conduct across the spectrum of project-driven industries.  Suggested project-driven industries include information systems / telecommunications, new product development, and manufacturing. Further, the quantitative portion should continue to use a similar survey instrument following the Malcolm Baldrige (2004) criteria on interrelated core values and concepts of leadership, so that industry comparisons could be made.


To read entire paper (click here)

About the Authors

William A. Moylan, Ph.D., PMP, FESD


Dr. William Moylan is an Associate Professor in Construction Management with Eastern Michigan University. In addition, Dr. Bill is a professional trainer, consultant, and expert witness in Construction Engineering and Project Management.  He has extensive professional experience in all aspects of program and project management, including over eleven years internationally with the Arabian American Oil Co.  Dr. Moylan has degrees from Lawrence Technological University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Capella University.  He is s active in a variety of professional societies and civic activities including the Project Management Institute, the Engineering Society of Detroit, Habitat for Humanity, and Toastmasters International.  Dr. Moylan can be contacted at [email protected].

Dr. Loran W. Walker DMIT, PMP


Dr. Loren Walker has worked in the Computer Science and Information Systems fields for over 28 years.  He has been an Adjunct and Full-time professor in information systems and the social sciences.  He specializes in consulting and teaching High-Level Programming Languages (C, C++, Java, and .Net Technologies), Systems Analysis & Design, Project Management, Web Design, Programming Technologies and Enterprise Architecture. Currently he serves as a Core Faculty and Project Management Lead for the Project Management Program in the School of Undergraduate Studies (SOUS) at Capella University.

Professor Walker is a founder and current leader of the New Practitioners Community of Practice (COP), a project management thought leadership community of The Project Management Institute (PMI).  The COP serves new practitioners, “accidental” project managers, students, professors and industry mentors.  He has given presentations at the PMI North American Congresses in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, the EMEA Congress 2012 in Marseille, France and the upcoming North American Congress in Vancouver, Canada.  Dr. Walker can be contacted at [email protected].