Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Submitted version

Stramarcos, A., & Cattell, D.(2013). The ethics of item pricing. Paper submitted for presentation at the 38th Australian University Building Educators Association Conference. Auckland: New Zealand.

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© Copyright A. Stramarcos & D. Cattell, 2013


Unbalanced bidding describes the process of contractors deliberately applying different mark-ups to individual items of work within a project. This practice has been shown to have the potential of yielding significant benefits to the contractor, including improved cashflow, higher compensation for escalation, and higher valuations for anticipated variations. A previous study on a hypothetical project indicated an improvement in profit in the order of 150% compared to balanced item prices. Research has indicated that unbalanced bidding is a widespread practice and yet many researchers have argued that it is unethical. This paper investigates the merits of these claims.