Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 5 July 2011



McCaffer, R. (2011), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 18 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2011.28618daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Volume 18, Issue 4

The 14 authors that contributed to this edition are three from Australia, three from France, one from Holland, three from Korea, and one each from Singapore, Sweden and the UK.

It was almost a UK free edition with the single UK author contributing jointly to a paper with three Australian colleagues. There are two single authored papers, one paper with two authors, two papers with three authors and one paper with four authors. One paper shares two institutes and one paper is jointly between academia and industry.

The rich variation of topics includes research approach, maintenance planning, culture diversity, contractor-supplier relationships, construction waste management and construction and macroeconomics.

The research methodologies are equally rich and varied including literature, face to face interviews, surveys, simulations and data analysis.

The papers in this issue are:

Voordijk explores an interesting interface between construction management research and explanatory science. The author relates construction management research to the field of natural science, design science and its interface. This has been achieved by identifying studies published in high quality construction management journals. The author argues that the focus should be on technological rules and that testing the technological rules is similar to replicating the logic recommended for comparative case studies.

This is an interesting article that researchers should consider when contemplating their approach to research.

Taillandier, Sauce, and Bonetto, explore methods and tools for building maintenance plan arbitration. The problem the authors see is the complexity and diversity of planning building maintenance for facility management. Most existing tools fail to provide answers that match the complexity of the issues. The approach is to use simulation to compare the situation of risk with or without taking action on maintenance. The simulation requires efficient software tools. The approach was tested in a leading French company. The authors believe they offer a viable solution. This is a good paper which identifies a problem, develops a solution and tests it with a real user.

Loosemore, Phua, Dunn and Ozguc compare operative and manager attitudes towards cultural diversity. Construction sites are culturally diverse workplaces. Using face-to-face questionnaires the researchers surveyed 1,155 construction operatives and 180 supervisors in Australia construction sites.

The anxieties identified related to safety and racism and the concerns were greatest amongst the operatives. Both operatives and managers expected some discrimination as inevitable, and cultural diversity policy and programs were not seen as a priority by managers. Some see such strategies as unfair. This paper is potentially a wakeup call to the limits of tolerance that exists within our culturally diverse industry. Although the research is Australian based, cultural diversity is pretty much universal. Evidence in the UK would be the various languages and symbolic substitutes used to convey safety messages.

Frodell returns us to the issue of achieving efficient contractor-supplier relationships. The author argues that the construction industry still lags behind manufacturing in areas such as long-term relationships with suppliers and the drive for constant cost reduction.

The paper is based on a two-year case study involving participatory observations and interviews in a large Swedish contractor.

Whilst admitting that it is not always possible to achieve an interface that drives the value creating process the gains to be made are in adopting a long-term approach to supplier relationships. Crucially the author is clear that this is the contractor’s responsibility in order to be an attractive customer to the supplier.

If this paper achieves anything it is the clear establishment that responsibility for establishing good supplier relationships rests with the contractor. Although the research was based in Sweden the message is globally applicable.

Hwang and Yeo examine the benefits of waste management in Singapore construction. Driven by increasing disposal costs and a reduction of landfill sites there is now a need for waste management in construction. The authors surveyed 66 industry experts and established the key materials used in projects and project size, costs, type, etc. The authors have related these project characteristics to waste management strategies.

This paper addresses a real issue that is acute in Singapore and growing in importance elsewhere. The London Olympics site would provide a good case study.

Kim, Lee and Kim examine the financial crisis in Korean construction firms in relationship to macroeconomic fluctuations. The researchers compared company financial ratios with macroeconomics ratios. The index of liquidity emerged as the highly influencing variable.

This is a snap shot of the performance of Korean construction companies in relation to financial variables. It establishes that construction is dependent on a good financial environment. Also it is clear that there is little construction can do and is vulnerable to wider economic movements.

Ronald McCaffer

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