Jayshree Lakha (Department of Civil Engineering , Loughborough University, Leicester, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 17 November 2014


Lakha, J. (2014), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 21 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-09-2014-0113



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Volume 21, Issue 6.

ECAM 21.6 has four papers which took nine authors to produce. Three papers had two authors each and the other has three authors. The international spread of authors was from Hong Kong, New Zealand and Sweden and the UK.

The range of topics in this edition include negotiations, selecting delivery methods, alliancing within public-private partnerships and the relationship between theoretical research and impact.

The underpinning research data collection methodologies were questionnaires (inevitably), interviews and case studies. The papers that impressed were the case studies; they seemed to leave some good sound observations. The paper that intrigued me was the use of face saving tactics in negotiations; maybe my approach to negotiation over my lifetime was too brutal!

The papers in this edition are:

Tak Wing Yiu and Yuet Nog Chung present an interesting aspect of negotiations, how face saving tactics governs the behavior of negotiating parties.

This paper identified the generic types of face-saving tactics used by construction negotiators, investigated the tactic-outcome relationships and examined the effects of face saving inducement factors.

The authors argue that the use of face-saving tactics in construction negotiations would result in an achievement of mutual agreement, maintenance of harmony and avoidance of offending situations.

Tran and Molenaar examine the risk of delivery on the three primary methods used in the USA, namely design-bid-build (DBB); design-build (DB); and construction manager/general contractor (CMGC). Risk factors were identified from literature and the data were collected by questionnaire.

The work identified the risk factors for the three methods. The authors argue that transport agencies and others can use this data to make more defensible decisions on delivery methods. Well perhaps, I think the authors need to issue guidance as to how these data are used and produce a case study to demonstrate the value. I cannot see transport agencies being motivated to use these data unless the benefits are made more explicit.

Walker and Jacobsson present a case study of alliancing within a public-private partnership. The data were collected through interviews with the key participants. The paper makes three contributions. Primarily, it pioneers analysis of a project alliance within a PPP. Second, it provides important insights into the reasons and emergence of this phenomenon. Finally, it provides an understanding of this how this novel form of early contractor involvement with a PPP special purpose ownership vehicle that combines competition and collaboration may function operationally. This is a valuable paper intended to capture, what the authors claim is a unique experience, and record for the benefit of others.

Holt, Goulding and Akintoye analyze the perceptions of the research community on the impact of their research. This is as a result of the UK's Research Excellent Framework including a section on impact.

There is a self-reported high understanding of impact and theory as separate concepts, but variance among perceptions as to their interrelationships. In addition, there is greater acceptance of the role of impact relating to research grants, but less so in relation to the REF. Respondents were ambivalent regarding possible effects, that an increasing emphasis on impact may have for the future. There was �slight agreement� that impact was good for CMR and, that existing theory must always be considered in research design.

There was �slight agreement� that impact was good for CMR. Well that seems a reluctant acceptance. Also whilst the research community accepted impact measures on work undertaken in research grants they were less accepting in the case of the REF.

I was quite involved in the REF with a number of universities. What we witnessed was the research community undergoing a transition. At the start the research community didn�t understand impact and wanted to redefine it as citations and journal impact factors. Surely they argued that is what they meant. However, the REF document was very clear it was impact on the wider community of industry and society. Slowly our community adjusted to this concept. What was inhibiting them was that the research community had not been collecting data on the impact of their research so were struggling to describe their achievements. Indeed many had not previously thought of their research in terms of impact. Some were even reduced to attempting to describe the future impact rather than the provable achieved impact.

I have lived through all UK research assessment exercises and can remember the outcry at the beginning on being asked for your four best papers. Many did not have four papers and postured indigence at being expected to produce four papers in five years. Those days are long gone. All academics accept the minimum four papers requirement as part of the research element in their job description. Deans and pro-vice chancellors for research have put in place, in every university in the land, systems to ensure that staff have research plans and deliver them including their four papers. These academic managers do not, as yet, have systems in place to measure impact and collect the evidence to demonstrate it. But they will install such systems and accounting for the impact of research will shortly become the expected norm.

Will this affect the quality of research? I hope so. There will be more research done jointly with industry, researchers will take more responsibility to see their research implemented and the impact of academic research will grow in real terms. This can only be good for our industry and our research community and is therefore to be encouraged.

The aspect of this paper is the affect on theoretical research. Construction management is not a theoretical subject. It is an applied subject. The scope for theoretical work is limited. Even those who engage in clear social science work are using the theories of trained and educated social scientists and probably do not have the background to truly develop a new theory. Similar arguments apply with those using the theories of economics. Thus I genuinely doubt that the theoretical output of construction management researchers will be inhibited. True theoretical work is hard to find. If someone is undertaking theoretical work it must surely be in an applied subject and intended to be used in an applied way. So the theoreticians only need to be clear what application their theory will support.

I welcomed the impact section in the REF as I believe it to be a move in the right direction. I would argue in an applied subject for a bigger weighting.

As this is the last edition for the year 2014 we offer our traditional thanks and gratitude to the unsung heroes of the publishing system, the referees. Without referees the system would grind to a halt. The reward for referees is not high, just editors� gratitude. To all those who refereed papers, published and rejected in this last year we repeat our grateful thanks.

This is a more poignant edition than simply the last of the year. In 1994 with my colleagues at Loughborough we launched ECAM and have tended every edition in the last 21 years.

This edition is our last as the editing of ECAM will shortly pass to a new team. So from the Loughborough team we would like to extend our thanks beyond the referees to include all the researchers that have offered us papers and to the members of the editorial boards that have supported ECAM over these years. ECAM set out to offer an outlet for applied and practical research that could demonstrate impact, well in advance of the REF. We have encouraged joint work with industry. We have encouraged a rich and varied approach to research methodologies. We have been keen to see research valued by the users. We have built an international community of authors. We leave ECAM in good heart.

Ron McCaffer