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Framing the barriers to construction industry transformation

Greg Watts (Department of SSEE, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Peter McDermott (Department of SSEE, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Shaba Kolo (Department of SSEE, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 15 December 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023




“Transforming construction” is a wide-ranging strategic term, under which sit numerous initiatives. It is the latest, in a long line of strategies and reports introduced to with the intention of industry improvement. Arguably, many of these fail to achieve their aim. The barriers preventing the adoption of transforming construction initiatives are therefore limiting the potential benefits of the strategy. The aim of this research is to formally identify and understand how these barriers are framed and how these frames can be changed so that the barriers can be overcome, and the wider strategy benefits realised.


A literature review is undertaken to identify “transforming construction” initiatives. A total of 15 semi-structured interviews are then undertaken with construction professionals and analysed via narrative analysis to identify and understand perceived barriers to these initiatives. Framing is utilised as a theoretical lens to categorise these barriers and understand how “shifts” in the frames held can be achieved and the barriers overcome.


Barriers to transforming construction initiatives are identified as wicked problems. This allows a new perspective on such initiatives to be gained. The results also reveal how construction professionals frame such barriers, viewing themselves as bystanders with initiatives and practices “bigger” than themselves and their roles. How these frames can be “shifted” from bystander to active participant is identified. Such a shift can serve as a blueprint for industry professionals so that the initiatives identified can be successfully implemented thereby increasing the success of the transforming construction strategy.


This paper addresses a gap in current research around the perceptions held by construction professionals of the initiatives that sit under the transforming construction strategy. Addressing this gap allows the diagnosis of barriers that have previously served to prevent initiatives gaining traction. The findings contribute to both the existing literature and current industry practice by highlighting how the barriers are framed, and how such frames can be “shifted” to support the realisation of long promised strategy benefits.



Watts, G., McDermott, P. and Kolo, S. (2023), "Framing the barriers to construction industry transformation", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 185-199.



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