McCaffer, R. (2012), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 19 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2012.28619baa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Volume 19, Issue 2
ECAM 19,2 took 12 authors to produce the six papers published, with five from Sweden, four from the UK, two from Singapore and one from Nigeria. Four papers had two authors, one paper had three authors and one had a single author.
Two of the papers in this issue relate to the issues between environmental management and project management. The first by Gluch and Räisänen set out to study this issue whereas the second by White and Fortune found these conflicts as one reason for the Gateshead Millennium Bridge being over budget and over time. What also bind these two papers together were the rich and varied sources for their data collection that supported their analysis. Both I think are a good example to others.
Other topics in this issue are: evaluation of lean management; and a paper evaluating the benefits of pre-qualification of contractors, both these papers use data derived from questionnaires; a study of career development based on open ended interviews; and the development of a method of introducing health and safety issues at the strategic level of project planning as well as at the detailed planning level, this work was based on individual and group interviews.
In terms of immediate impact, the health and safety paper, which set out to explore practical issues, is likely to find the most immediate application. The papers on environmental management and project management should lead to consideration as to how projects are set up, so that the project management takes account of the main client’s environmental responsibilities, and that this is built into the project management and not left to disrupt it.
The papers in this issue are:
Gluch and Räisänen explore the tensions that exist between project management practices and environmental management practices. The data collection for this exercise was rich and impressive involved: two case studies, on-site observations, text analyses, 20 structured interviews, one group interview, time spent on site and 15 weekly environmental site inspections monitored and document.
Evidence is produced that shows that project practices seem to exaggerate the conflict with environmental management. That is that project team members and organisation team members seem to strive for different goals. There is a lack of fit been an organisation and its projects whereby long term environmental strategies and goals are not understood in the project setting.
The challenge is aligning the permanent organisation structures with the temporary project organisation.
This is a very interesting paper and takes us into a field that has not been well explored by our research community. This research team conducted a well-researched investigation and did not rely on simple data sets but drew their information from a variety of sources. It is to be wished that all researchers would be as thorough. With equally extensive and varied data sources White and Fortune (see below) evaluated a project and found the conflicts between the environmental issues and project management.
Meiling, Backlund and Johnsson evaluates lean management. They attempted to measure the degree to which lean management principles have been adopted by companies basing their production on off-site manufacture. Questionnaires were distributed to management and to factory personnel in two off-site manufacturing firms in Sweden. The aim of lean management is to seek continuous improvement and this research aimed to test if that was achieved.
The study showed that both companies studied showed similar patterns and similar differences between management and factory personnel responses. The conclusion re-iterates the need for simultaneously focussing on processes, people and long-term thinking.
The output of this paper seems constrained by the research method. Some direct interviews with management and factory personnel, some observations in the factories, perhaps some joint discussions with management and factory personnel together would have produce a much richer description on what the companies were trying to achieve.
Aje examines the impact of pre-qualification of contractors on project delivery in Nigeria. The data sources were a survey to clients, consultants and contractors as well as archival data on 77 completed building projects.
The paper claims that contractors’ pre-qualification has a significant impact on both the time of project delivery and of quality.
This paper seems to offer re-assurance that the good practice of pre-qualification can be demonstrated to have an effect.
Ling and Lee explore issues of career development and examine the relevance of Sun Tzu’s Art of War in setting strategies that could be adopted in career development.
The data sources are 32 in-depth interviews. The 13 open-ended questions used in the interviews were developed from the Art of War findings.
The conclusions are that effective career development strategies are: out-performing peers; developing deep job experience; delivering performance; adopting team member posture and then move to team leader; handle office politics maintain flexibility and manoeuvrability; networking; and acquiring knowledge.
The adoption of military strategies to aid career development likens career progression to war where winning is important.
The subject is of great interest to all except those that have reached the status of “emeritus” the research methodology adopted of interviewing 32 individuals is commendable. My empathy with the paper was not sustained by the approach to draw on the Art of War for guidance. I think that this declared a bias in the researchers’ minds as they set out on this work. Perhaps a more open-minded approach would have seen more strategies. It isn’t about winning it’s about achieving satisfaction.
Hare and Cameron whose research commitment is to health and safety examine the gateways to project planning. This research project was commissioned by the UK Health and Safety Executive. The data sources were group and individual interviews and the aim was to explore the integration of health and safety with construction planning.
The work developed “gateway” decision points at which the integration of health and safety with construction planning could take place at a strategic level. Previous health and safety work had concentrated on site activities and this work takes health and safety into the planning stages.
This is a good practical piece of work that should have an immediate impact with practioners. However, how much integrating health and safety with planning will improve safety will have to wait until another study after this has been implemented. It seems a justifiable act of faith that integrating health and safety with planning will improve safety. Now having the means to integrate it will provide the means, in future, to demonstrate that this assumption is true and perhaps will allow the quantification of the effect of integration.
White and Fortune evaluate the project that was the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The project was over-budget and late. The problems encountered during construction were caused by unforeseen environmental influences and a failure to appreciate the viewpoints of those involved. This project could well be regarded as another case study to the Gluch and Räisänen paper, which specifically studied the issues between projects and environment management. The data collection for this research was in real time by a series of interviews with the staff of the project partners Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council and Harbour and General. Visits to the main site and the pre-fabrication site were also supported by data from newspaper articles, Council Minutes and memoranda and other literature. So like the Gluch and Räisänen paper the data sources were extensive and varied and the quality of the work reflects this.
The method of project evaluation could well provide a template for future exercises. I do hope these researchers find other projects to evaluate and add to the body of knowledge as to what can be managed better. I’m sure that they and Gluch and Räisänen will exchange views on the impact of environmental management on project performance. Perhaps when they have conferred there will be another paper with their comparisons, which we would be pleased to publish.