McCaffer, R. (2012), "Editorial", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 19 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ecam.2012.28619faa.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 6.
ECAM 19.6 has, as usual, six papers these were produced by 14 authors, one paper has a single author, three papers have two authors and there is one each with three and four authors. One is joint paper between two countries and two papers are joint between two different institutions. So the evidence that there collaboration with a single institution remains strong. In terms of international distribution this is an Australian/UK edition. Three papers are from the UK and two are from Australia with the remaining paper a joint Australia/UK paper. In terms of authors there are five Australians and nine UK authors.
The topics for this edition are “customer satisfaction”, “implementing BIM”, “productivity losses due to smoking”, “work-family interactions”, “sustainable assessment criteria for material selection” and “delays in construction”. These are an interesting mix of subjects starting with a strong reminder of the key role of the customer, together with two papers that are designed to improve the sustainability of family life and the sustainability of the planet through material selection. In terms of key importance these two seem to lead. The papers on implementing BIM and studying delays are intended to improve the industry's performance. Finally the paper on smoking delays which, for some reason, I enjoyed the most is designed to improve productivity but I suspect in the long term should be designed to improve health and lifestyle. Why I enjoyed this is probably as much to do with my own experiences of dealing with absences and breaks due to the local pub being not too far from the main site that I was working on in the 1960s. How do you deal with an inebriated digger driver? Well at 19 I didn’t have the experience, but the site manager said “send him home, he’ll be sober in the morning” my protests of “but, but, but you can’t employ a digger driver that drinks” were swept away with the comment “well you tell me where I can find another digger driver at short notice”. The practical realities and the social behaviour were an interesting conflict.
Forsythe reminds us that the key people in construction are the clients and aims to help contractors manage customer satisfaction in the made to order housing market. The author argues that this can be achieved using marketing theories. A model was developed to formulate the expectations during pre-purchase decision making. The data assembled in this study was from 51 telephone interviews with customers involved in live housing projects. This data lead to a revised model including a set of traits to suit housing construction customers. Strings of traits are then used to develop the customer profile. This model and profiling approach offers a methodology for contractors to produce a better product for their customers meeting their expectations.
What is interesting about this paper is the focus on the customer, a focus that is too rare in our research community. The value of this approach can only be tested in practice; hopefully a follow up paper will provide the evidence that this can provide lasting improvements.
Khosrowshahi and Arayici address the implementation of building information modelling (BIM) by providing a roadmap. The authors argue that it is already established that BIM can lead to improvements in productivity and quality and that increasing complexity and sustainability demands make the need for BIM even greater. The problem, as the authors see it, is the effective implementation given that BIM is a major change management task. The authors set out to catalogue the challenges and barriers and plot a way through these. From literature the authors establish a maturity concept and conduct interviews in Finland, conduct a survey questionnaire of UK contractors and together this led to an understanding of the limitations of the UK industry to absorb BIM. To answer these impediments the authors developed a roadmap that encourages organisations to progress up the ladder of BIM maturity. The authors discuss factors such as external influences that encourage the use of BIM, the lack of perceived benefit which impedes and they argue that the lack of adoption is a threat to UK construction.
What is needed is evidence that the roadmap actually helps organisations progress up the maturity ladder, it sounds plausible but more application is needed to demonstrate its value.
Yung and Agyekum-Mensah address the issue of productivity losses due to smoking breaks on construction sites. I don’t think we have ever addressed this issue before in ECAM so this is a first. Exact time losses through smoking breaks were measured on small-/medium-sized construction company over a period of four months. The time losses due to smoking were calculated and the productivity losses evaluated and compared with published data. The key data is the average of 5.6 cigarettes per smoker leading to 73 minutes lost in an eight-hour shift. This is much larger than additional sick leave taken by smokers or, indeed, published data. The authors argue that there will be variations in smoking patterns and each ought to be measured separately.
I greatly enjoyed this paper, there were no complicated theories or philosophy to cope with, just the simple issue smoking breaks do cause time and productivity losses and these were measured. The question is what to do next, wage penalties do not seem to be working, and there are probably too few construction workers to simply engage non-smokers. I am not sure of the variations between different countries and societies. These authors have flagged up a problem; more studies are needed before any sensible policy approach could be formulated.
Lingard, Francis and Turner return us to life-work balance and analyse work-family interaction. In particular the authors examine demands of work time and the control of work time and the support from the supervisor. The data for the analysis was drawn from a survey of 261 waged and salaried staff in two construction organisations.
The results suggest that work-family conflict and work-family enrichment should be treated as two distinct concepts in work-family research and that the job demands-control theory is helpful in explaining work-family conflict but that alternative theories are needed to explain positive work-family interactions. The originality of this research is that it examines the extent to which different configurations of job demand and resource can explain experiences at the work-family interface.
This paper makes a significant contribution to the research in work-family life balance issues and should provide a platform for the evolution of better practices.
Akadiri and Olomolaiye attempt to develop sustainable assessment criteria for building materials. The authors claim that their investigation of existing building material selection failed on the principles of sustainability and in prioritising and aggregating criteria into the assessment framework. This paper aims to describe the development stages of assessment criteria for sustainable construction. A total of 24 criteria were developed for sustainable selection and a survey of architects and designers was conducted to assess the criteria. The authors believe that their selection criteria widens the understanding of selection and provides a new approach to selecting materials.
This is an important topic and key to developing a sustainable construction industry. The authors now need to demonstrate is value in practice.
Shebob, Dawood, Shah and Xu compare the delays experienced in Libyan and UK construction. Underlying the paper is the aim of developing a method of comparative analysis of delays in construction. The authors developed a delay analysis system and surveyed the industry. Delays recorded in Libya were greater than delays recorded in the UK.
The authors argue that this new methodology of delay analysis will help the construction industry improve its processes. This is not strongly argued as it is not forcefully explained how such comparisons will lead to improvements. Hopefully the authors will follow through their work by developing a clear link to productivity improvements.
Finally, as the last issue for 2012 it is time to thank all our referees. ECAM like all other refereed journals relies on the goodwill of our colleagues who act as referees. This role takes place quietly and is largely unseen but the publishing world would cease to exist if the good will of referees didn’t support their colleagues in helping guarantee the quality of published papers. The Editorial team at ECAM are extremely grateful and offer our referees our profound thanks.