The design organizations all have what seems like a well developed set of guidelines for dealing honestly, discreetly and smoothly with clients and employers. In addition to requirements for maintaining a high level of competence.
All of this this makes sense from a purely selfish perspective, this is much of what makes an organization’s reputation among potential employers. This reputation is good for the survival of the organizations and can be profitable for its members, if they can wear their membership (or even better, Grafills «Authorized Membership») as a badge of competence. These things don’t merely make you look good, they make you look like a good investment.
For similar reasons, the guidelines do their part to keep designers from being undervalued and underpaid by their clients. They have clear guidelines for what kind of competitions the members are allowed to join and how clients and employers are allowed to pay them for their services, including, on AIGA’s part, a point specifically forbidding spec work.
They also all forbid their members from taking credit for work that’s not theirs or taking the credit alone when not appropriate. This also includes plagiarism and the like.
That’s not to say that there’s no idealism here (or that there’s anything wrong with self-interest in and of itself) — a lot of this can also be explained as showing the value designers place on good work. The internet is filled with designers writhing in woes about all the ugly and unusable stuff that fills our daily lives, longing for a shinier and more beautiful world.