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The effect of cross‐cultural uncertainty and complexity within multicultural construction teams

E.G. Ochieng (School of the Built Environment, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
A.D.F. Price (Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
X. Ruan (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
C.O. Egbu (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
D. Moore (Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 26 April 2013




The purpose of this paper is to examine challenges faced by senior construction managers in managing cross‐cultural complexity and uncertainty. The rationale was to identify the key strategies that are considered essential for managing cross‐cultural complexity and uncertainty.


Interviews with 20 senior construction managers, ten in Kenya and ten in the UK, were recorded, transcribed and entered into the qualitative research software NVivo. Validity and reliability were achieved by first assessing the plausibility in terms of already existing knowledge on some of the cultural issues raised by participants. The findings were presented to the participants through workshops and group discussions.


The emerging key issues suggested that project leaders need to learn how to control their own characteristics and to use them selectively. An effective multicultural construction project team should focus on team output and attributes that characterise a multicultural team as a social entity.

Practical implications

Findings indicate that the role of construction project managers has significantly changed over the past two decades. In order to deal with cross‐cultural uncertainty, project leaders must have superior multicultural and interpersonal skills when managing global multicultural heavy engineering projects.


The research shows that leaders of global construction project teams need a good understanding of their culture, environment and the value of their individual contributions.



Ochieng, E.G., Price, A.D.F., Ruan, X., Egbu, C.O. and Moore, D. (2013), "The effect of cross‐cultural uncertainty and complexity within multicultural construction teams", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 307-324.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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