To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Product diversification and large construction firm productivity: the effect of institutional environments in Malaysia

Mohd Azrai Azman (Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sarawak Branch, Kota Samarahan, Malaysia)
Carol K.H. Hon (School of Built Environment, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Bo Xia (School of Built Environment, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia) (School of Civil Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, China)
Boon L. Lee (QUT Business School, Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Martin Skitmore (School of Built Environment, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 25 July 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2021

280

Abstract

Purpose

Many large construction firms (LCFs) adopt product diversification (PD) to counter downturns and spread risks. However, no detailed information is available concerning the type of PD that improves their performance. In addition, it is still uncertain how much changes in institutional dimensions influence the effectiveness of PD. Therefore, the aim is to resolve this issue by establishing a model that shows the extent of this influence.

Design/methodology/approach

The generalised method of moments (GMM) estimator is used to model the PD strategies of 86 LCFs in Malaysia over 14 years (2003–2016) and its impact on productivity and profitability performance.

Findings

Unrelated diversification (UD) decreased firm performance in 2003–2016, while related diversification (RD) had a positive impact during the more liberal 2010–2016 phase. The models show that the impact of PD is highly dependent on changes in institutional dimensions.

Practical implications

Firstly, managers may adjust the type of PD and its level of diversification to improve firm performance. Secondly, they may devise PD strategies based on changes in institutional dimensions to maximise their effectiveness.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the literature by determining the optimal amount of PD (including RD and UD) and its impact on performance. Secondly, the study is the first to investigate the moderating relationship of the institutional dimensions of economic and regulatory institutions on PD-firm performance. Thirdly, the study is the first to explore the components of technical-scale-scope economies (movement towards and around the production frontier), this being crucial to the strategy that was only conjectured in previous studies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The first author acknowledges the support of the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, for the postgraduate scholarship. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript.

Citation

Azman, M.A., Hon, C.K.H., Xia, B., Lee, B.L. and Skitmore, M. (2021), "Product diversification and large construction firm productivity: the effect of institutional environments in Malaysia", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 994-1013. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-05-2020-0288

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles