Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 2 May 2008


McCaffer, R. (2008), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 15 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2008.28615caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Volume 15, Issue 3.

ECAM Vol. 15 No. 3 has its usual eclectic range of topics from international authors. Each of the six papers is from a different country namely: Singapore, Australia, Egypt, South Africa, United States of America and the UK.

A total of 11 authors combined to produce these papers with two single authored papers, three papers with two authors and one with three authors.

The topics range from trying to determine “what inspires leaders”, through “job satisfaction of Quantity Surveyors”, “selecting an Architectural-Engineering Team” to “understanding innovation”, “issues of conservation” and finally “claims management”.

The paper that took my attention was Manley’s paper on innovation. Manley concentrated on manufacturers supplying the industry with innovative patented products. The conclusion was that manufacturers need to promote their products more through networks. Now why I found this of interest is that in our local region I serve on “Innovation East Midlands” the local “Science and Industry Council”. Our work here is to promote innovation throughout the region, not just for construction, and the vehicle is a series of i-hubs which are focussed networks intent on introducing the person or company with the bright new idea to the possible user of that idea. I have argued at conferences that we need a global i-hub for construction and, if anything, Manley’s paper reinforces my view. I would like to see more papers on the topic of innovation in construction until we reach a critical mass of knowledge that equates to knowing how to stimulate and manage innovation.

Mansfield’s paper on conservation was new to me and I enjoyed it because of that.

However there remains two issues that we need to address. The first is the use of questionnaires. Three of this issue’s papers sourced their data from questionnaires. Age has made me increasingly sceptical about the value of questionnaire data and I would like to see a richer variety of research methods employed. Perhaps this is a call for the “Richard Fellows” or the “Peter Lansleys” or others to present a paper on research methodologies.

The second issue is the research work, which ends with an illustration of how it could be. We need to encourage our researchers to go another step or two and demonstrate their work in action in real life. Getting our research community to implement their research in practice would make a step change in innovation. It would also demonstrate beyond dispute the worth of research.

The papers in this issue are:

Toor and Ofori take us into the important topic of “leadership”. Their study of leadership antecedents was conducted amongst graduate project management students at the National University of Singapore. Data collection was by questionnaire. The researchers map the antecedents to leadership skills as teachers, parents, mentors, educational and operational experiences, social events such as marriage, calamities or illness. What this exploratory study illustrates is the many inputs that influence the development of emergent leaders. More work is needed before we can design the effective set of experiences that will guarantee quality leaders and good leadership.

Manley explores what I think is an exciting area namely the implementation of innovation. Manley is particularly interested in innovation, by manufacturers sub-contracting to the construction industry. Innovation has many sources and how innovation is managed in construction is currently pretty undisciplined so Manley’s contribution of exploring the manufacturers’ role is important. The definition of innovation is this paper is restricted to patented products. The researcher reviewed four projects, developed a framework of six innovation determinants and conducted case studies. The findings include that manufacturers could improve diffusion of their innovative products by the use of networks. This is consistent with virtually all major attempts to improve innovation in every field, not just construction, by the creating of networks’ or meeting places or contact nets to bring together the people with the innovative areas with those that need them. Having arrived at the age of knowledge management we are now emerging into the age of knowledge creation through innovation. We need to understand how innovation occurs and how it can be encouraged. This paper is a good contribution. We need more in the field of innovation development and management.

Hassainein and Nemr return us to the recurrent theme of “Claims Management” and in this case in the Egyptian construction sector from the constructor’s perspective. After many decades of pursuing non-adversarial contracts and working towards relationally integrated teams it is a slightly sad comment that claims are still so prevalent to warrant research. Again the data collection was by questionnaire and the respondents were construction companies. The results catalogue the failures in the contractual processes, e.g. lack of notification, poor documentation, oral instructions etc. etc. The pursuit of the claim is recorded as equally unsatisfactory. The authors attempt to make some recommendations but the paper is more of a report of the current state of claims management in Egyptian construction.

Bowen and Cattell explore job satisfaction amongst South African Quantity Surveyors. Data collection was by a WEB-based questionnaire. The purpose that motivated this study was to identify the factors that lead to perceived job satisfaction. What the researchers would really like to achieve is how to design “jobs” that the incumbent would be happy in. Usually jobs are derived from an economic need and the well being of the employees addressed subsequently. The authors have much comment on gender and race and in workplace characteristics such as feelings of personal satisfaction, recognition, degree of supervision and career choices.

Mansfield introduces an area we have not included before, that of conservation. Construction is mainly about new build so conservation is an area that gets little attention. Mansfield’s particular interest in this paper is the ethical dilemmas in cultural built heritage projects with the aim of contributing to conservation scheme management. The data sources are literative and recent policy documents. The paper gives a good background to the ethics of conservation, which was largely new to me and interesting because of that. The paper covers architectural and conservation ethics, some specific dilemmas and a review of the regulatory system leading up to the links between conservation and sustainability. The paper should be of interest to those professionals working in conservation but as a complete non-specialist in this area it was an interesting description.

Nguyen, Shehab and Gao seek a new application of fuzzy set theory by employing it to help select the Architecture-Engineering Team. The researchers argue the importance of the Architect-Engineer Team selection and go on to articulate it as a multi-criteria process. They further argue that many of the criteria are evaluated in conditions of uncertainty and vagueness, hence the use of fuzzy set theory, which is comfortable in dealing with imprecise and incomplete data. Having developed their assessment tool they go on to illustrate its use by presenting an example. What is needed is a real life application to demonstrate its worth.

Ronald McCaffer