Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 4 July 2008



McCaffer, R. (2008), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 15 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2008.28615daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Volume 15, Issue 4

ECAM Vol. 15 No. 4 has authors from UK, Australia, Singapore and Denmark. The total number of authors is 16 divided as one single authored paper, three papers with two authors, one with four authors and one with five authors. At the risk of repeating myself from previous editorials I always wonder how a paper with many authors gets the agreements of all authors.

The papers in this issue are as follows.

Phillips, Martin, Dainty and Price have researched the social housing sector and this paper addresses the quality attributes used in establishing the best value tenders. The issue is the diversity of the definition and description of quality attributes. The research approach was a questionnaire ranking attributes. Out of them the research team have reduced the attributes to ten core factors. However in their conclusions the authors soften the importance of their conclusions by stating that stakeholders will consider other factors and that cost, time and quality still dominates.

Holt and Edwards, arguably the leading research workers in the operation of construction plant and equipment, a domain they have made their own, address some health and safety issues in this paper. The issue that interests them are the health and safety issues related to what they call “quick-hitch” that is the changing of attachments, e.g. buckets, quickly. Case studies and the examination of safety incidents confirm the significant health and safety risks. The main causes being workers acts or omissions or failure to implement safety mechanisms. The solution they propose is stricter supervision. I am sure these two plants and equipment stalwarts will produce the needed training to eliminate these risks.

Lingard keeps us in the health and safety field. Helen’s research has produced a decision support tool, ToolSHeD to help construction designers integrated occupational health and safety into the design process. The knowledge in the system is modelled to handle uncertainty and discretionary decision making. At present it deals with falls from heights during maintenance work on roofs. The prototype testing demonstrates that the system represents safety risk effectively. Now what we are looking forward to are the case studies of its implementation.

Toor and Ofori are seizing the research agenda in the field of leadership. The authors reviewed 46 studies, which were rigorously selected. In this review they summarised the findings and coded the study according to outlet, authors, nature is study, countries, target population, methodologies and key findings. The results of that most of these studies concentrate on behavioural aspects of leadership and pay less attention to development. The paper examines some past trends and makes an attempt at predicting future trends. They also argue for more research in leadership.

Abdel-Wahab, Dainty, Ison, Bower and Hazlehurst address issues related to skills development. In this paper they address the trend of construction productivity and the trends of skills indicators namely qualification attainments and training from 1995-2006. The conclusion, which could have been stated more strongly is that whilst qualification attainments and participation in training improved over the period there were not improvements in construction productivity. In effect the authors are saying the government skills agenda is not delivering. They present a case for major discussion on construction productivity between government and its agencies and the employers together with the academics who are arguing that this is not delivering.

Jorgenssen and Emmitt ask the question why has the transfer of lean manufacturing to construction got lost. Their review of literature reveals that the characteristics of lean manufacturing have been slow to emerge in construction. However they weaken this bold statement by saying that they appear to be gaining momentum. They argue that “lean” has been interpreted narrowly as meaning the production system, planning and management. They argue a need for a “back to basics” discussion on the reasons “lean” has got “lost”. I am sure they will take steps to organise this discussion and drive our industry forward.

In the editorial of the last issue I returned to the topic of academics demonstrating the worth of their research work. It is clear, to me, that a bigger percentage of academics have to demonstrate the practical application and value of their work. We serve an industry and community, we do applied research, therefore to secure the support of our stakeholders and our continued funding we need to demonstrate value. So in this edition instead of ranting at our community to do better I have adopted a different approach. That is to outline the practical application, that could be achieved by the papers published.

The author(s) of:

  • Paper 1 on quality attributes in tender evaluations in social housing need to get the ten core attributes proposed adopted by a provider of social housing.

  • Paper 2 on health and safety of “quick hitch” in the plant and equipment industry need to implement a national training programme and demonstrate a reduction in accidents.

  • Paper 3, a decision support tool for designers to integrate health and safety in design, need a case study of a real application and then for it to be adopted widely leading to a reduction in accidents caused by falls from roofs and maintenance.

  • Paper 4 argue for a new approach to research leadership. What is needed is a global research institute concentrating on leadership development in construction. This could well be organised in Singapore.

  • Paper 5 expose the inconsistencies in the achievement of government policies in skills development. A grand meeting of government, its agencies, employees and academics is needed to put in place effective policies. The authors should organise this.

  • Paper 6 explains that the principles of lean manufacturing argue for a “back to basics” discussion. That is they have already defined the next step. These authors should implement that step.

If we had six papers in future reporting on the outcomes of these actions then we would be well able to demonstrate our worth.

Ronald McCaffer

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