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Machine learning for the identification of competent project managers for construction projects in Nepal

Samrakshya Karki (CEIM, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)
Bonaventura Hadikusumo (CEIM, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 27 September 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2023

309

Abstract

Purpose

Project manager’s competency is crucial in the construction sector for the successful completion of projects, particularly in the case of developing countries like Nepal. Therefore, it is very essential to select competent project managers by finding the competency factors required by them. Hence, this study aims to identify the characteristics of competent project managers by expert opinion method and to evaluate their competency level by a questionnaire survey to develop a prediction model using a supervised machine learning approach via Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis (WEKA), a machine learning tool which predicts Project manager’s performance as “Higher than expected,” “Expected” or “Lower than expected” for the medium complexity construction projects of Nepal (from US$200,000 up to US$10M).

Design/methodology/approach

The data collection procedure for this research is based on an expert opinion method and survey. Expert opinion method is conducted to find the characteristics of a competent project manager by validating the top 15 competency factors based on literature review. The survey is conducted with the top management to assess their project manager’s competency level. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are used to collect data for classification and prediction in WEKA, a machine learning tool.

Findings

The results illustrate that the project managers in Nepal have a high score in leadership skills, personal characteristics, team development and delegation, communication skills, technical skills, problem-solving/coping with situation skills and stakeholder/relationship management skills. Furthermore, among the seven classifiers (naïve Bayes, sequential minimal optimization [SMO], multilayer perceptron, logistic, KStar, J48 and random forest), the accuracy given by the SMO algorithm is highest of all in both the percentage split and k-folds cross validation method. The model developed using SMO classifier by k-folds cross-validation (k = 10) is acknowledged as a final model.

Research limitations/implications

This research focuses to develop a prediction model to predict and analyze the competency of project managers by applying a supervised machine learning approach. Seven extensively used algorithms (Naïve Bayes, SMO, multilayer perceptron, logistic, KStar, J48, random forest) are used to check the accuracy of models and an algorithm that gives the highest accuracy is adopted. Data collection for this research is carried out by expert opinion method to validate the characteristics (factors) essential for competent project managers in the first round and the description of each factor as high, medium and low is inquired with the same experts in the second round. After an expert opinion, a structured questionnaire is prepared for the survey to assess the competency level of project managers (PMs). The competency level of PMs working under government funded, foreign aided or private projects from the contractor’s side is measured. This research is limited to the medium scale construction projects of Nepal.

Practical implications

This model can be a huge asset in the human resource department of construction companies as it helps to know the performance level of project managers in terms of “Higher than expected,” “Expected” or “Lower than expected” for the medium complexity construction projects of Nepal. Also, the model will assist human intelligence to make the decision while recruiting a new project manager/s for different types of projects at a time. Moreover, the model can be used for self-assessment of project manager/s to know their performance level. The model can be used to develop a user friendly interface system or an application such that it can be conveniently used anywhere any time.

Social implications

This research shows that most of the project managers working in a medium complexity construction project of Nepal are male, maximum of them hold bachelor’s degree and study for road projects. Furthermore, most of the project managers scored high in leadership skills, personal characteristics, communication skills, technical skills, problem-solving/coping with situation skills, team development and delegation and stakeholder/relationship management skills. The model has given the “Personal characteristics” attribute the highest weightage. Likewise, other attributes having high weightage are communication skills, analytical abilities, project budget, stakeholder/relationship management, team development and delegation and time management skills.

Originality/value

This research was conducted to find the competency factors and to study the competency level of project managers in Nepal to develop a prediction model to predict the PM’s performance using a machine learning approach in medium scale construction projects. There is a lack of research to develop a model that predicts project manager’s competency using the machine learning approach. Therefore, the predictive model developed here helps in the identification of a competent project manager as it will be advantageous for project completion with a high success rate.

Keywords

Citation

Karki, S. and Hadikusumo, B. (2023), "Machine learning for the identification of competent project managers for construction projects in Nepal", Construction Innovation, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/CI-08-2020-0139

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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