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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2009

Jun Ying Liu and Sui Pheng Low

The features of construction projects, characterized by their transient nature, multi‐players, and strong dependency on local natural and human environment, highlight the…

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2418

Abstract

Purpose

The features of construction projects, characterized by their transient nature, multi‐players, and strong dependency on local natural and human environment, highlight the difficulties of risk management in construction firms. This is particularly crucial when a construction firm ventures overseas where the risk exposure is high. However, it is unclear how Chinese construction firms would behave organizationally or if they have adopted appropriate risk management best practices, especially when they operate outside of Mainland China. Moreover, it is also unclear if such firms have formally documented risk management lessons for the purpose of organizational learning to share both success and failure so that similar mistakes can be avoided in the future. This paper primarily aims to establish a conceptual framework linking organizational learning with risk management, focusing on the organizational behavior of Chinese construction firms when they operate in both Mainland China and overseas.

Design/methodology/approach

The research agenda proposes the use of questionnaire surveys and in‐depth case studies of Chinese contractors with operations both in Mainland China and Singapore.

Findings

An outcome of the study is the formulation of a research agenda that will eventually lead to the development of a knowledge‐based decision support system (KBDSS) linking organizational behavior with risk management for supporting organizational learning in Chinese construction firms.

Practical implications

The outcomes of the research agenda can help chinese contractors gain “sustainable competitive advantage” against contractors from other developed countries in the global market.

Originality/value

This is possibly the first ever study to correlate organizational behaviour (OB), technical, organizational, project and external (TOPE) risks, CQ‐SET and mitigate, accept, avoid or transfer (MAAT) within the context of Chinese construction firms operating both in Mainland China and the overseas market of Singapore. As part of the research agenda, theories of organizational behavior and risk management would also be applied to the empirical findings to draw inferences.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2013

Gao Shang and Low Sui Pheng

Kaizen or continuous improvement is a renowned Japanese management philosophy implemented in many industries all over the world. It is geared towards the everyday worker…

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1957

Abstract

Purpose

Kaizen or continuous improvement is a renowned Japanese management philosophy implemented in many industries all over the world. It is geared towards the everyday worker and management, and aims to continually improve the workplace, even on a small scale. The extent of implementation in China is unknown. This paper seeks to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

This study has the objective of filling a gap by addressing the implementation issues facing kaizen in a project setting, and employs qualitative methods to investigate the application of kaizen within large Chinese construction firms. The material for this study is taken from interviews of 27 Chinese building professionals from 16 large Chinese firms in 2011.

Findings

The interview results indicate that different types of activities associated with kaizen have been adopted by Chinese construction firms at the project level.

Research limitations/implications

There are considerable challenges identified in this study. This includes the lack of a supporting culture, compressing schedules, limited resources and especially the lack of professionals with sufficient understanding of kaizen. In order to put Chinese construction firms in a better position to implement kaizen, this study concludes with a number of strategies for overcoming these challenges.

Originality/value

The respondents' perceptions of kaizen, as well as its possible applications in real life projects, were sought. In addition, the infrastructure of kaizen within the Chinese construction project setting was also investigated in this study.

Details

Journal of Technology Management in China, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-8779

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2012

Gao Shang and Low Sui Pheng

Since lean thinking has begun to be successfully implemented in manufacturing, the concept and its associated principles have become increasingly popular in the…

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1901

Abstract

Purpose

Since lean thinking has begun to be successfully implemented in manufacturing, the concept and its associated principles have become increasingly popular in the construction industry. The purpose of this research is to present an empirical study of the Toyota Way model in China's construction industry.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents the results of a study conducted in China using a questionnaire survey to examine the extent to which the Toyota Way principles have been adopted by large Chinese construction firms. A total of 93 Chinese building professionals participated in the survey in China.

Findings

The Toyota Way is the “mother platform” of lean thinking, cutting across operational improvement strategies, people management, proactive problem‐solving approaches, and organizational culture elements. The results show some encouraging findings, in that a number of actionable attributes derived from Toyota Way principles have been adopted at least to some extent. However, implementing firms may still be subject to falling into the same traps and making the same implementation “mistakes” as have been seen elsewhere, as they often deployed this comprehensive management model in less than systematic ways.

Originality/value

The results also indicate that all the Toyota Way attributes were perceived as important by the respondents. The focus of the study is to discuss those attributes perceived as being highly important, yet less implemented. It is suggested that direct efforts and resources are needed to enhance these practices at the beginning. The results are also discussed in connection with their possible implications and suggestions for further research.

Details

Journal of Technology Management in China, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-8779

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2016

Igor Martek and Chuan Chen

Firms compete using a variety of strategies. Typically they aim to provide something different, to be better, or simply cheaper. In the construction industry, the…

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2806

Abstract

Purpose

Firms compete using a variety of strategies. Typically they aim to provide something different, to be better, or simply cheaper. In the construction industry, the performance characteristics, quality and cost of the final delivered project will be the outcome of the interplay of capabilities of all the firms involved in the project. Consequently, in order to improve competitiveness, firms must pay attention to not only their own competitive advantage but to those of the firms, both up-stream and down-stream, on whom they depend in delivering their projects. For foreign constructors in China, those competitive considerations will be informed by circumstances different from home. How then do foreign constructors adapt themselves to the problem of sourcing competitively when located within a China-based supply chain? The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study 60 foreign enterprises operating within the Chinese construction sector were investigated by using a comparative case study approach.

Findings

Four generic procurement strategies were identified. First, firms adapt themselves in the search for optimal supply sources by replicating home-based suppliers, controlling local suppliers, or by remaining agile and non-aligned. Second, firms develop niche supply monopolies through market dominance, uniquely differentiated offerings, or by integration with down-stream providers. Third, firms find opportunities to bring in off-shore technology intensive procurements, where that technology is either protected, improved upon, or sold. Finally, firms also seek to transit to China as a procurement base in order to reduce local supply cost, service world-wide operations, or as part of a total strategy of China relocation.

Originality/value

The identification of this rich range of procurement approaches will be of interest to internationalization strategists, as well as to industry practitioners looking to find appropriate business models for off-shore operations.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 54 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 20 July 2015

Francesca Spigarelli, Ilan Alon and Attilio Mucelli

This paper aims to examine the global competitiveness of an emerging market multinational (EMM) from China through the case of a major European acquisition, in Italy, in…

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2052

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the global competitiveness of an emerging market multinational (EMM) from China through the case of a major European acquisition, in Italy, in the heavy construction industry. Country- and firm-specific factors are considered. Horizontal integration in this oligopolistic industry changes the industry dynamics, with significant implications for its players.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper follows case study methodology and triangulates data through a literature review, an examination of available company data and interviews of key personnel. Firm- and country-specific factors, both advantages and disadvantages, including the business environment in the construction industry, globally and regionally, are analyzed.

Findings

The paper identifies several key success factors at the firm level, including the integration of research and development, marketing and sales; the development of extensive communication and trust among the managers of both companies; the exploitation of the Chinese market as a source of demand; and the shifting of selected production lines to the Chinese market.

Research limitations/implications

The traditional models of country-specific advantages/disadvantages and firm-specific advantages/disadvantages are augmented by examining the host market and industry task environments. Host country-specific factors for successful integration include favorable local conditions, both in terms of endowments and institutions, and an industrial cluster with supporting firms and services.

Practical implications

Following the case study, managers can refer to the key success factors to emulate “best practices”. The paper concludes with a heuristic developed by the Chairman of Zoomlinon, Chunxin Zhan, underlining five principles for a successful EEM acquisition: understanding, sharing, responsibility, compliance and coordination.

Originality/value

This paper develops a deep case study analysis and provides useful theoretical and practical implications with reference to Chinese acquisition in the Western markets.

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Article
Publication date: 23 January 2007

Jian Kang, Charles Y.J. Cheah, David A.S. Chew and Guozhi Liu

The purpose of this paper is to examine a series of environmental factors and industrial conditions governing the construction industry in China. The outcome of this part…

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1744

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine a series of environmental factors and industrial conditions governing the construction industry in China. The outcome of this part of the analysis sheds light on the development of appropriate competitive strategies and important resources and competencies (IRCs) to establish long‐term competitive advantages.

Design/methodology/approach

The overarching conceptual framework consists of both external and internal analyses. Since, the scope of work is very broad, the materials presented in this paper is limited to external analysis of environmental factors. The study is primarily derived from a literature review and synthesis of data gathered from various public sources. Certain parts of the analysis utilize frameworks developed by other researchers and selective statistical methods.

Findings

Some environmental factors, such as government intervention and legal and regulatory systems require the development of Guanxi (relationships) to cope with. Other factors including market structure, project procurement systems, horizontal market segments related to construction, regional characteristics and upstream and downstream functions within the construction value chain are suggestive of five potential types of competitive strategies: cost leadership, differentiation, market/product diversification, geographical diversification, and vertical/functional integration.

Research limitations/implications

The research study as a whole is targeted at large construction firms in China that belong to the First class qualification category. Therefore, the proposed competitive strategies and IRCs may not be applicable to small and medium construction enterprises.

Originality/value

Application of strategic management theories and empirical findings related to the Chinese construction industry is lacking. This research fills this gap and builds a foundation for future studies related to this industry.

Details

Chinese Management Studies, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-614X

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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2015

Yomi Babatunde and Low Sui Pheng

The purpose of this paper is to design and test a model integrating the attributes of national culture and total quality management (TQM) principles for successful TQM…

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1637

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to design and test a model integrating the attributes of national culture and total quality management (TQM) principles for successful TQM implementation in international projects involving Chinese construction firms in Nigeria.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the culture-specific relationship between TQM implementation and national culture and ISO 9001 being a stepping stone to TQM implementation, a model in the form of a matrix was designed integrating Hofstede’s five national cultural dimensions (NCD) and ISO 9001 eight quality management principles. The model was then tested through a three-phase research process including cross-sectional surveys of the Chinese (n=48) and the Nigerians (n=80) (Phase 1), Delphi study involving TQM experts (n=12) (Phase 2), and case studies of Chinese projects in Nigeria (n=6) (Phase 3).

Findings

The model predicts important attributes of national culture and TQM principles for achieving good-quality performance, the management of which leads to a Chinese firm being perceived as delivering good or poor-quality services in Nigeria. Statistical testing using κ statistics revealed significant agreement between two perceived good-quality Chinese firms on the important attributes and significant disagreement between perceived good-quality and poor-quality Chinese firms in Nigeria.

Research limitations/implications

The model designed is based on ISO 9001: 2008 version.

Practical implications

International businesses in Africa will benefit from this study’s findings.

Social implications

Overseas Chinese firms’ service quality perceptions can be better managed.

Originality/value

This empirical study presents a model for successful TQM implementation through ISO 9001.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 27 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2011

Jun Ying Liu, Sui Pheng Low and Miaomiao Niu

In recent years, several high‐profile cross‐border acquisitions made by Chinese enterprises have attracted the world's attention. However, none of these acquisitions were…

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1550

Abstract

Purpose

In recent years, several high‐profile cross‐border acquisitions made by Chinese enterprises have attracted the world's attention. However, none of these acquisitions were related to Chinese construction enterprises despite their expanding role in the international construction market. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the objectives and impediments faced by Chinese construction enterprises in cross‐border acquisitions based on existing theories and research studies.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a literature review and the analysis of the current status of cross‐border acquisitions in China, an industry‐wide questionnaire survey was conducted to investigate the objectives and impediments of cross‐border acquisitions faced by Chinese construction enterprises.

Findings

The main objective of Chinese construction enterprises towards cross‐border acquisitions is to create new markets and to optimize the industrial structure. Although a majority of the construction enterprises demonstrated an intention for cross‐border acquisitions which is driven by their past and current overseas activities, their preparation for cross‐border acquisitions is impeded by concerns over post‐acquisition issues and a lack of knowledge and experience.

Originality/value

The paper originally contributes to a better understanding of the current status of cross‐border acquisitions by Chinese construction enterprises based on an analysis of their objectives and impediments, which will be useful for researchers and practitioners.

Details

Journal of Technology Management in China, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-8779

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Article
Publication date: 30 August 2011

Dehai Liu, Weijun Xu, Hongyi Li, Weiguo Zhang and Weiguo Wang

The purpose of this paper is to understand the root cause of a large number of quality problems in the current Chinese construction market.

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1286

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the root cause of a large number of quality problems in the current Chinese construction market.

Design/methodology/approach

Information economics theory is used to analyze the cause of construction quality problems related to the specific case of the Wenchuan earthquake of China.

Findings

The single low price competition in the construction tender market leads to the serious adverse selection and moral hazard behavior of bidding firms. The main solution to this problem is the introduction and improvement of an independent inspection/supervision mechanism.

Originality/value

The paper systematically analyzes the evaluation method of the lowest price winning bidding policy, which is the fundamental cause of adverse selection and moral hazard problems in the Chinese construction market.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 April 2020

Guangbin Wang, Chen Xia and Dongping Cao

Due to the lack of industrywide data, now there is only perceptual knowledge, through survey data, that construction firms may face great challenges in geographical…

Abstract

Purpose

Due to the lack of industrywide data, now there is only perceptual knowledge, through survey data, that construction firms may face great challenges in geographical diversification. The article aims to provide an objective description on the state of interregional market entry practices in the Chinese construction industry. How these practices are influenced by related set of regional and industry-related factors is further studied.

Design/methodology/approach

Description analysis of the practices is first performed based on a first-hand industrial data set including 1,020 projects and 404 construction firms. Combining provincial panel data in the National Bureau of Statistics of China, related regional and industry-related factors on these practices are further analyzed through hierarchical regression models.

Findings

(1) Interregional market entry practices are not quite prevalent during the past two decades, only involving 271 projects and 111 firms which accounts for 26.57% and 27.47% of the analyzed subjects respectively; (2) Large, state-owned and experienced firms are more frequently involved in the practices; (3) A number of regional factors such as local market protection and industry scale also significantly impact the practices.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical analysis of this study was conducted using the specific dataset from the National Quality Award Projects where firms tend to be national, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to the whole industry contexts.

Originality/value

While most of the research on market entry practices in the project-based construction industry is undertaken at project or firm level based on survey data, this research represents an exploratory effort of using objective data to provide a macro overview of the practices at the industry level. The findings could contribute to a deepened understanding of how these practices are impacted by related regional- and industry-level factors.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 27 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

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