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Chinese foreign workers in Singapore's construction industry

Low Sui Pheng (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Liu Jun Ying (Department of Construction Management, Tianjin University, Tianjin, People's Republic of China)
Soh Shan Shan (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Technology Management in China

ISSN: 1746-8779

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




There is little understanding of the pressure, loneliness and homesickness, the workers from Mainland China faced when working overseas in a foreign land like Singapore. The families which the workers left behind in Mainland China when they work in Singapore were also neglected. The purpose of this paper is to examine the wider social aspects relating to Chinese foreign workers in the Singapore construction industry.


The research process was based on a questionnaire survey of Chinese construction workers in Singapore. A questionnaire with 45 questions was designed in which the information solicited included the socio‐demographic characteristics of the respondents, the reasons behind their trans‐national migration behaviour, the impact of this migratory behaviour on the workers and their families in Mainland China, and the workers' perceptions of and feelings towards working overseas. In total, 65 fully completed questionnaires were analyzed and reported in the study.


Supporting the family was the overarching reason for Chinese construction workers to work in Singapore. However, they were unhappy in Singapore owing to: feeling of homesickness, loneliness, long working hours, overtime work and a lack of understanding, empathy and appreciation from the locals.


This paper has taken the first step in exploring the neglected aspects of Chinese construction workers in Singapore. It provides a set of recommendations on how the relevant government authorities, employers and non‐governmental organizations can pay more attention to the emotional and psychological needs of these foreign workers. It also provides a better understanding of these workers to help raise public acceptance of them in society.



Sui Pheng, L., Jun Ying, L. and Shan Shan, S. (2008), "Chinese foreign workers in Singapore's construction industry", Journal of Technology Management in China, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 211-223.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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