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Is the construction industry aware of supply chain management? The Portuguese contractors’ perspective

Amílcar Arantes (Superior Technical Institute, University of Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)
Luís Miguel D. F. Ferreira (Department of Economics, Management and Industrial Engineering, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)
António Aguiar Costa (Superior Technical Institute, University of Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 8 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the understanding and behaviour of construction companies in relation to supply chain management (SCM) and how those relationships can impact the adoption of the SCM concept.


This paper adopted a descriptive study method based on a cross-section survey. A literature review and focus group interviews were used to design the survey questionnaire. The focus group interviews were also used to discuss the results of the survey and draw conclusions.


The results show that the global awareness level of SCM and the relationships level among the entities in the Portuguese construction industry are low, which is in alignment with previous research work. These results also show that SCM in the construction industry is a complex task due to the fact that the relationships between the entities are different, and also often contractors and subcontractors change roles from project-to-project.

Research limitations/implications

The limited number of valid responses in the research, particularly when considering categories based on the size of the contractors, can be considered a major limitation of this research, which might have reduced the quality of the statistic tests performed.

Practical implications

Construction companies should foster a proper understanding of “the language” and core concepts underpinning SCM practices and should pay particular attention to a systemic and network perspective, avoiding the traditional focus on the management of dyadic relationships. Accordingly, care must be taken to avoid the “simple and direct” transfer of the SCM concept to the construction sector.


This paper provides contributions to understanding the awareness of SCM within the construction industry and to the field of SCM, confirming that it is the specifics, and not the context, of the construction sector that are not well-adapted to the assumptions underpinning SCM and related concepts.



The authors would like to thank the Portuguese Association of Construction and Public Works and Services Companies (AECOPS) for their support in providing and facilitating the contacts with contractors, and the experts who made up the focus groups, whose contributions were essential to carrying out this study. The authors also acknowledge Margarida Lourenço’s contribution to the successful administration of the survey.


Arantes, A., Ferreira, L.M.D.F. and Costa, A.A. (2015), "Is the construction industry aware of supply chain management? The Portuguese contractors’ perspective", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 404-414.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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