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From Industry 4.0 to Construction 4.0: barriers to the digital transformation of engineering and construction sectors

Kaiyang Wang (Department of Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China) (School of Engineering, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Fangyu Guo (Department of Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China)
Cheng Zhang (Department of Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China)
Dirk Schaefer (School of Engineering, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 31 August 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to systematically identify, assess, and categorize the barriers to digital transformation (DT) in the engineering and construction sectors, and thus to better understand the impact and how these sectors might be overcome.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a sequential mixed qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis approach. DT barriers were first identified from relevant literature and verified by an expert panel. Then, a questionnaire survey assessing the impacts of the identified DT barriers was distributed to construction professionals in China, and 192 valid responses were retrieved. Further, the data obtained were analyzed using ranking analysis, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM).

Findings

Based on the ranking analysis, the top three barriers are “lack of industry-specific standards and laws,” “lack of clear vision, strategy and direction for DT,” and “lack of support from top management for DT.” EFA enabled the grouping of the 26 barriers into 3 categories: (1) lack of laws and regulations (LLR), (2) lack of support and leadership (LSL), and (3) lack of resources and professionals (LRP). The PLS-SEM analysis revealed that LLR, LSL, and LRP were found to have significant negative impacts on DT.

Originality/value

These findings contribute to the body of knowledge on DT in the construction industry and help construction firms and government bodies improve the understanding of these barriers to DT and put forward relevant policies and incentives, thus seizing the DT benefits as a way to enhance construction project management.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to appreciate the support from Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University under the research projects PGRS1906023 and REF-21-01-006. In addition, the authors would like to thank Professor Charles T. Jahren's valuable suggestions for paper improvement.

Citation

Wang, K., Guo, F., Zhang, C. and Schaefer, D. (2022), "From Industry 4.0 to Construction 4.0: barriers to the digital transformation of engineering and construction sectors", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-05-2022-0383

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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