Professional and Social Responsibility Tutorial

Welcome to the first lesson of the PMP tutorial which is part of the ‘PMP® Certification Training Course.’ In this lesson, we will focus on professional and social responsibility of Project Managers.

Let us look at the objectives of this lesson in the next section.


After completing the Professional and Social Responsibility lesson, you will be able to:

  • Identify the professional and social obligations of Project Managers

  • Explain how to ensure the individual integrity

  • Identify ways to contribute to project management knowledge base

  • Explain how to enhance professional competence

  • List the ways to promote stakeholder collaboration

In the next section, we will discuss the Code of Ethics.

Code of Ethics

The PMI® has established a set of guidelines for Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for certified PMP professionals to follow.

It describes the expectations that the project managers should have of themselves and their fellow practitioners in the global project management community.

Project managers hold a great deal of responsibility for:

  • The projects they undertake

  • The solutions provided

  • The management of costs

  • The impact on the performing organization

  • Any impacted environments or groups

  • Dollars spent

  • Vendors/contractors hired

The Values that Support the Code of Ethics

PMI has identified four core values across the global project management community that are most important to project managers. These are:

  • Responsibility

  • Respect

  • Fairness

  • Honesty

Each section of the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct includes both Aspirational Standards and Mandatory Standards.

The aspirational standards describe the conduct that the Project Managers strive to uphold as practitioners. Although adherence to the aspirational standards is not easily measured, it is expected that Project Management Professionals adhere to them. It is not optional.

The mandatory standards establish firm requirements, and in some cases, limit or prohibit practitioner behavior. Practitioners who do not conduct themselves by these standards will be subject to disciplinary procedures before PMI’s Ethics Review Committee.

In the next few sections, we will discuss each of these core values in detail.


Practitioners of Project Management are held to the highest standards and acknowledge their responsibility to take ownership of the decisions that they make or fail to make, the actions that they take or fail to take, and the resulting consequences.

Responsibility includes Aspirational Standards and Mandatory Standards. They are explained in detail below.

Responsibility: Aspirational Standards

Aspirational Standards include:

  • Making decisions and taking actions based on the best interests of the: Society, Public Safety, and Environment

  • Accepting only those assignments that are consistent with their background, experience, skills, and qualifications

  • Fulfilling the commitments undertaken

  • Owning and correcting errors or omissions promptly

  • Errors are communicated immediately to the appropriate body

  • Accountability is accepted along with any resulting consequences

  • Proprietary and confidential information is protected

  • Upholding ethical code and holding each other accountable to it

Responsibility: Mandatory Standards

Mandatory Standards include:

  • Inform and uphold policies, rules and regulations and laws that govern their work, professional, and volunteer activities.

  • Report unethical or illegal conduct to appropriate management and, if necessary, to those affected by the conduct.

Responsibility: Ethics Complaints

As a part of the responsibility, PM includes reporting violations of the PMI code of ethics and professional conduct by other project managers.

Ethics complaints must adhere to the following PMI standards:

  • Bring violations of this Code to the attention of the appropriate body for resolution

  • File ethics complaints when they are substantiated by facts

  • Pursue disciplinary action against an individual who retaliates against a person raising ethical concerns

Now let's discuss the Project Managers value Respect.


Project Managers show respect by having high regard for themselves, others, and the resources entrusted to them.

Resources entrusted to project managers may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources.

Respect includes Aspirational Standards and Mandatory Standards. They are explained in detail below.

Respect: Aspirational standards

Aspirational standards include:

  • Being informed about the norms and customs of others and avoid engaging in behaviors they might be considered disrespectful

  • Listening to others’ points of view and seeking to understand them

  • Approaching directly those persons with whom you have a conflict or disagreement

  • Conducting themselves in a professional manner, even when it is not reciprocated

Respect: Mandatory standards

Mandatory standards include:

  • Negotiating in good faith

  • Not exercising the power of their expertise or position to influence the decisions or actions of others to benefit personally at their expense

  • Not acting in an abusive manner toward others

  • Respecting the property rights of others

Now let's discuss Project Managers value Fairness.


Project Managers must ensure Fairness as a core value while making decisions and must act impartially and objectively. Project manager's conduct must be free from competing for self-interest, prejudice, and favoritism.

Fairness includes Aspirational Standards and Mandatory Standards. They are explained in detail below.

Fairness: Aspirational standards

Aspirational standards include:

  • Demonstrating transparency in the decision-making process

  • Constantly re-examining personal impartiality and objectivity, taking corrective action as appropriate

  • Providing equal access to information to those authorized to have that information

  • Providing equal opportunities to qualified candidates

Fairness: Mandatory Standards

Mandatory Standards include:

  • Proactively and fully disclose any real or potential conflict of interest to appropriate stakeholders

  • When a real or potential conflict of interest is realized, refraining from engaging in the decision-making process or otherwise attempting to influence outcomes

  • If there is a real or potential conflict of interest, participating only when:

    • Full disclosure is made to the affected stakeholders

    • Approval of complete mitigation plan is received

    • Consent of stakeholders to proceed is obtained

Let’s look at the next PMI value Honesty.


Project managers must uphold Honesty as a core value to understand the truth and act truthfully both in communications and conduct.

Honesty: Aspirational standards

Aspirational standards include:

  • Earnestly seeking to understand the truth

  • Being truthful in communications and conduct

  • Providing accurate information promptly

  • Making commitments and promises, implied or explicit, in good faith

  • Striving to create an environment in which others feel safe, to tell the truth

Honesty: Mandatory Standards

Not engaging in, or condoning, behavior that is designed to deceive others, including, but not limited to:

  • Making misleading or false statements

  • Stating half-truths

  • Providing information out of context

  • Withholding information that, if known, would render your statements as misleading or incomplete

  • Not engaging in dishonest behavior with the intention of personal gain or at the expense of another

In the next section, we will understand how to ensure the individual integrity.

Ensuring Individual Integrity

The Project Management Institute or PMI expects project managers to display a high standard of integrity. PMI also expects that:

  • Project managers should always demonstrate this by giving a true picture of the project status. The project status reports should not try to conceal discomforting facts about the project.

  • Project managers should always report the truth even if it shows the project in a bad structure.

  • The managers should also respect copyright rules and never use unlicensed products. They should deal with conflicts pro-actively.

  • The project managers should stay away from illegal activities like accepting or giving bribe to get the work done.

  • What is considered a bribe in one country might be legal in another. Therefore, project managers should judge all such payments concerning the local laws and normally accepted standards of fairness.

  • A project manager should treat everybody with respect and prioritize the interests of the project over personal interests.

  • They should make use of their knowledge and try to follow the right process of doing the right thing for the project.

  • Project managers should maintain the confidentiality of information and never disclose company information to any unauthorized parties. Similarly, intellectual property rights must be respected.

The PMI has published a code of conduct for certified project managers. This code of conduct can be accessed from the PMI website. There are two reasons why project managers should be aware of the code of conduct.

  • One reason is that they will have to agree and abide by it as a PMI member and a certified professional.

  • The second reason is that it will help them answer any question in the exam that tests the professional and ethical responsibilities of a project manager.

In the next section, let us look into a business scenario to understand this concept better.

Business Scenario - Problem Statement

You are the project manager for a global project. The project is being delivered in another country, and most of your team members are spread out across multiple regions.

Your Project Sponsor is confident in your team’s ability to finish the project under budget and ahead of schedule. To encourage you and your team, an early completion incentive has been linked to the project.

After using parametric estimates in the planning process and developing a well-documented the basis of estimates, you are confident that you can deliver the project within its budget and on schedule.

After an on-site meeting with local officials about the status of the project, one of the officials pulls you aside to have a conversation. He tells you that he can get an important government approval immediately which will ensure that the next phase of the project is completed ahead of schedule.

However, he asks you to pay him $250 in US currency as an “administration fee.” What should you do as the project manager?

Let us look at the solution for this business scenario in the below section.

Business Scenario: Solution

You deny the request to pay $250 to the official. You want to keep your project on a positive path to ensure success.

Further, your project team would like to earn an incentive for their hard work. However, paying the official money would be considered a bribe.

Therefore, the next step for you, as the project manager, is to meet with the sponsor and report the offer made by the official.

In the next section, we will discuss how to contribute to project management knowledge base.

Contributing to the Project Management knowledge base

As a practicing project manager, you are expected to contribute towards the growth of the project management profession. You can do this in some ways.

You can share the best practices learned during your project with other project managers in your organization. You can also mentor the team members on project management concepts.

You can write blogs on your project management experiences for the benefit of the wider audience or participate in project management discussion groups. This will help you to accumulate professional development units PDUs that are required to renew your certification.

PMI emphasizes archiving lessons learned and data from past projects because it helps to build a knowledge base, which is the foundation for enhancing project management competence.

Therefore, a project manager must actively participate in archiving, analyzing, and using metrics and data from the projects.

In the next section, we will discuss how project managers can enhance professional competence.

Enhancing Professional Competence

The Project Management Institute expects practicing project managers to work on their strengths and weaknesses and increase their project management competence. The project managers should analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

They should identify a senior project manager as their mentor and discuss their day-to-day project management problems with the latter. The mentor will help the project managers assess their weak areas and raise their competence in such areas.

Learning on the job or applying their knowledge on projects is a wonderful way in which project managers can improve their skills. Reading books on project management tools and techniques is another way project managers can enhance their competence.

The project managers can also subscribe to project management journals that have good case studies about the projects across the globe.

Discussing challenges and issues with their peers and colleagues in the project management profession is a good way of raising professional competence.

In the next section, let us look into a business scenario to understand this concept better.

Business Scenario - Problem Statement

You wrapped up a project three months ago that produced spare parts for one of your customers. You successfully gained final acceptance and signoff by the customer on the deliverable.

Managing the project went well because your parts consistently met the quality metrics, fitness for use tests, and passed all control charts. There was no indication of issues with quality and grade that would prompt a need for change.

A fellow project manager in the company is preparing for a similar project with a different customer and they want to meet with you to glean insight on what to expect.

During your meeting, you discover an error in the results communicated in the deliverable that may potentially turn into a safety issue in the future which could affect thousands of customers.

Although the risks involved with these newly discovered safety issues are very small, they could have a serious impact. How should you handle this?

Let us look at the solution for this business scenario in the below section.

Business Scenario: Solution

You should first get in touch with your old Project Sponsor and management to communicate your findings both verbally and in writing (formally). Then you and the sponsor should communicate your findings to the customer.

According to PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, you must “uphold the policies, rules, regulations, and laws that govern your work, professional and volunteer activities.”  

In the next section, we will focus on how to promote stakeholder collaboration.

Promoting Stakeholder Collaboration

Stakeholder collaboration is the key to project success. Being a project manager, you should ensure that stakeholders are informed about the project benefits, and they extend all possible support to make the project successful.

Some activities can be proactively performed to promote stakeholder collaboration. Resolving competing interests is one of them. Remember, any scenario that puts your interest and the interests of the project at odds with each other is in a potential conflict of interest and be handled carefully.

Taking charge and dealing with conflicting scenarios is another action that needs to be taken. Respecting cultural differences that may occur when projects span geographies and keeping stakeholders informed about the true status of the project are other activities that a project manager needs to perform.

In the next section, let us look into a business scenario to understand this concept better.

Business Scenario - Problem Statement

The ACME Technology Company prides itself on providing excellent customer service and delivering high-quality technology implementations. This brand strategy has served the company well because they maintain a strong customer loyalty record.

The area that hurts them, at times is the fact that some of their system implementations take longer than forecast. Jim is a project manager at the company, and he is leading a desktop upgrade for one of their repeat customers.

The project is nearing its completion date, and it is time to check the correctness of the computer build out. During the evaluation, it is brought to Jim’s attention that the desktop system’s speed is not fast enough for the company’s core financial software to function as designed.

A team member suggests they increase the system’s speed by 10% with additional RAM as a courtesy to the customer since they have excess parts from another project, and it will not cost the company any additional dollars.

Also, there were issues on the last project worked for this customer, and this would be a great way to make up for the past problems. What should Jim do?

Let us look at the solution for this business scenario in the next section.

Business Scenario: Solution

The additional speed would make a huge difference and allow ACME to meet their defined quality metrics and fitness for user requirements. The fact that the software will not be able to perform on the system to meet established requirements would be a failure point for the project.

Jim should document both the issues and the recommendations to present to the project sponsor. Identifying the performance concerns is required as he has now been made aware of the issue.


Let us summarize what we have covered in this lesson.

  • Project managers should follow the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct during a project.

  • Project managers can contribute to the project management knowledge base by actively analyzing past project data and compiling project management related metrics to be used within the organization.

  • The project managers should analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and look for a senior professional to mentor them in areas where they need to improve.

  • The project managers should always keep stakeholders informed about the true status of their projects. This will help to promote stakeholder collaboration.


This concludes the lesson on Project Management Framework. In the next lesson, we will discuss Project Management Processes.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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