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Clustering of host countries to facilitate learning between similar international construction markets

Beste Ozyurt (Department of Civil Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)
Irem Dikmen (Department of Civil Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)
M. Talat Birgonul (Department of Civil Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 26 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

In the global construction industry, experience gained in various countries is a major source of competitive advantage. By transferring the knowledge gained in previous projects using an effective knowledge management strategy, they can increase their competitiveness by adopting best practices and by not repeating the same mistakes under similar conditions. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how similar countries can be clustered to facilitate learning in global markets.

Design/methodology/approach

Initially, country factors that can affect success in international projects and can be used to assess the similarity of markets were identified by an extensive literature review and prioritised by a web-based questionnaire. A country evaluation form was prepared to collect country-specific data to be used in the cluster analysis of 39 countries where the Turkish contractors have been frequently working since the last 45 years. Cluster analysis was performed with SPSS 23.0.

Findings

Three country clusters were obtained and validated. Ultimately, how obtained country clusters may be used to facilitate learning from international construction projects was demonstrated by using an illustrative example.

Research limitations/implications

The findings depend on the experience and perspective of Turkish contractors doing business abroad. Thus, the identified clusters are not generic. Moreover, country clusters were not identified considering only the country factors such as economy, culture, politics, etc.; thus, countries in the same cluster do not necessarily represent “similar” countries in terms of macro-factors. Clusters were identified so that the lessons learned can be effectively transferred within the same cluster considering construction and project-related factors as well as country-related factors. Although the findings cannot be generalised and clusters are not static, it is believed that the methodology used in this research is repeatable for different countries considering different timeframes.

Originality/value

Theoretical contributions include the identification of factors that can be used for similarity assessment of countries for transferring lessons learned as well as a methodology for clustering. Findings may also have a practical value for the Turkish contractors.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is funded by a grant from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) Grant No. 213M493. TUBITAK’s support is gratefully acknowledged.

Citation

Ozyurt, B., Dikmen, I. and Birgonul, M.T. (2019), "Clustering of host countries to facilitate learning between similar international construction markets", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 66-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-11-2018-0495

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited