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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2018

Arshad Ali Javed, Wei Pan, Le Chen and Wenting Zhan

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the complex interdependence of the factors in driving or hindering construction productivity at the industry, project and…

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1564

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the complex interdependence of the factors in driving or hindering construction productivity at the industry, project and activity levels in a systemic manner.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed-methods design, which combines a critical literature review, an interview-based survey with 32 industry experts and five focus group meetings participated in by 109 representatives of a wide range of industry stakeholder groups, was employed to identify the drivers for and constraints on construction productivity enhancement in Hong Kong and explore the interrelated insights into the drivers and constraints.

Findings

The study conceptualised and validated a systemic framework for examining construction industry productivity, and developed three causal loop diagrams (CLDs) for illustrating the dynamic structures that underpin the complex systems of the drivers and constraints.

Research limitations/implications

Although the scope of the study was limited to Hong Kong, the results could be interpreted for critical learning in other urban contexts.

Practical implications

The systemic perspective of construction productivity and the CLDs of the drivers and constraints support the systems thinking of industry stakeholders in the formulation of holistic strategies for long-term construction industry productivity enhancement.

Originality/value

The study conceptualises construction productivity from a systemic perspective and provides empirically supported CLDs to facilitate future investigations into the complex system of construction productivity.

Details

Built Environment Project and Asset Management, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2044-124X

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2020

Wenting Zhan, Wei Pan and Le Chen

While the investment in construction projects has increased over the past few decades, low construction project productivity (CPP) appeared to be persistent, thereby…

Abstract

Purpose

While the investment in construction projects has increased over the past few decades, low construction project productivity (CPP) appeared to be persistent, thereby reflecting an “investment-in-failure” paradox between the investment and CPP. Hence, this paper aims to develop a systematic and holistic CPP evaluation framework to explain the apparent paradox in the construction industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first reviews the literature about the theories of system, production, principal–agent and project success evaluation to re-conceptualise the CPP and proposes a two-stage CPP evaluation framework. The framework is subsequently explored through a sequential qualitative mixed-methods design within the context of the Hong Kong construction industry by combining 32 semi-structured interviews with senior industry experts and exploratory case studies, with three real-life construction projects.

Findings

The paper identifies three system boundaries for CPP evaluation, that is, parameter, timeframe and stakeholder, and develops a two-stage CPP evaluation framework to indicate site efficiency and utilisation effectiveness, thereby accessing the productivity of both the construction and post-construction stages. The “investment-in-failure” paradox associated with current CPP evaluation approaches is primarily attributed to the narrowly defined CPP boundaries.

Research limitations/implications

The qualitative exploration of the evaluation framework only focusses on the Hong Kong construction industry. Further case studies within other urban contexts could be used to improve the generalisability of the findings. Quantitative research is also necessary to advance theoretical development of the two-stage CPP evaluation.

Practical implications

The systemic CPP conceptualisation and the two-stage CPP evaluation framework support the systems thinking of industry stakeholders and enable them to formulate holistic strategies for long-term CPP enhancement.

Originality/value

The research demonstrates the needs to expand the system boundaries of CPP to reflect its systemic value and to shift the paradigm of CPP evaluation from being output-orientated and quantity-focussed to being outcome-orientated and value-focussed.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2021

Wei Pan, Le Chen and Wenting Zhan

This paper explores the vocational training of construction workers in Guangdong Province of China and identifies its position in the global political-economic spectrum of…

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242

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the vocational training of construction workers in Guangdong Province of China and identifies its position in the global political-economic spectrum of skill formation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews construction vocational education and training (VET) of major political economies to develop a theoretical framework that guides an in-depth case study of Guangdong. Document analysis, field trip observations, meetings and semi-structured interviews were combined to explore the political-economic environment, political stakeholders and quality assurance mechanisms of industrial training in Guangdong's construction sector. The findings were compared with construction VET of other economies reported in the literature.

Findings

Construction training in Guangdong is deeply rooted in the local history and culture, under strong dominance of the state, while continually evolves to respond to the fluid market and therefore can be conceptualised as “market-in-state”. The political stakeholders are embedded within the state to ensure that skills policies are implemented in-line with industry policies. The differences between the training of Guangdong and its foreign counterparts are attributed to their divergent political-economic models.

Research limitations/implications

As the case study was undertaken only with Guangdong, the generalisability of its findings can be improved through future research within a broader context of multiple provinces of China through both qualitative and quantitative research approaches.

Practical implications

Plausible foreign VET approaches are likely adaptable to the Chinese context only when conducive political-economic environment could be enabled. The findings are useful for developing countries to learn from the VET experience of industrialised economies. Construction workers' training in Guangdong can be improved by strengthening labour regulation at lower subcontracting levels and ensuring the presence of industrial associations and unions for collective training supervision.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the field of construction engineering and management with a theoretical framework that guides empirical studies on the influence of the political-economic environment upon the ways political stakeholders develop and participate in construction VET. The exploration based on this framework revealed the position of the vocational training of construction workers in Guangdong in the global political-economic spectrum of skill formation.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 28 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Globalization, Political Economy, Business and Society in Pandemic Times
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-792-3

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2007

Le Chen and Sherif Mohamed

Recent knowledge management (KM) literature suggests that KM activities are not independent of each other, rather they interact with each other to form a process which…

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1247

Abstract

Purpose

Recent knowledge management (KM) literature suggests that KM activities are not independent of each other, rather they interact with each other to form a process which receives input from both external and internal business environments, and then produces new knowledge for future utilisation. The purpose of this paper is to empirically investigate the relationships between KM activities within the construction business context in order to identify and map the pattern of their interactions.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of contracting organisations operating in Hong Kong to elicit opinions of construction professionals on the intensity of KM activities currently being executed by their organisations in order to facilitate knowledge capture, sharing and utilisation. More than 150 respondents from 99 organisations responded to the survey. Additionally, a total of 15 semi‐structured interviews were undertaken to provide a unique perspective on many of the challenges facing local construction organisations when dealing with KM activities.

Findings

Knowledge acquisition and utilisation play paramount roles in the development of the organisational knowledge asset. The higher the intensity of these two activities, the larger the organisational knowledge pool which, in turn, demands greater knowledge dissemination capacity. This dissemination capacity enables more active and intense responses to market changes and clients' needs, thus facilitating and stimulating acquisition and utilisation of new tacit knowledge, thus improving organisational business performance.

Originality/value

Interactions between KM activities were empirically investigated, from a strategic perspective, in the construction business context.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 18 July 2016

Karen Manley and Le Chen

Collaboration is thought to offer significant benefits over traditional contracts, however there is little existing research concerning how these benefits can be…

Abstract

Purpose

Collaboration is thought to offer significant benefits over traditional contracts, however there is little existing research concerning how these benefits can be optimized. To address this gap, a survey investigated the impact of client characteristics on the time and cost efficiency of collaborative infrastructure projects. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The survey of experienced senior practitioners of Australian collaborative infrastructure projects yielded 320 valid responses. Cluster analysis, one-way between group ANOVA tests and independent sample t-tests were used to confirm that three client characteristics are critical to time and cost performance: client sector (public/private); client experience with asset procurement; and client approach to price competition.

Findings

Projects procured by experienced private sector clients were found to meet targeted levels of performance, regardless of their approach to team selection. Among projects procured by experienced public sector clients, groups of relatively low and high performing projects could be distinguished, regardless of their approach to team selection. Projects run by teams selected competitively on non-price criteria prior to the pricing stage exhibited significantly better performance than those run by teams that competed on the price of the project to win the work.

Research limitations/implications

This study focussed only on analysis of three client characteristics. Future research may consider a broader range of contextual variables. Results are based on perceptual data rather than objective data.

Practical implications

The findings show collaborative infrastructure clients in the construction sector should be less concerned about inexperience than they might have been, and more interested in single-team selection approaches than they might have been.

Originality/value

The results indicate significant performance differences between client types. In particular, experienced public sector clients had more polarized performance outcomes, compared to the private sector.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Karen Manley and Le Chen

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new model to show how continuous joint learning of participant organisations improves project performance. Performance…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new model to show how continuous joint learning of participant organisations improves project performance. Performance heterogeneity between collaborative infrastructure projects is typically examined by considering procurement systems and their governance mechanisms at static points in time. The literature neglects to consider the impact of dynamic learning capability, which is thought to reconfigure governance mechanisms over time in response to evolving market conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

There are two stages of conceptual development. In the first stage, the management literature is analysed to explain the standard model of dynamic learning capability that emphasises three learning phases for organisations. This standard model is extended to derive a novel circular model of dynamic learning capability that shows a new feedback loop between performance and learning. In the second stage, the construction management literature is consulted, adding project lifecycle, stakeholder diversity and three organisational levels to the analysis to arrive at the collaborative model of dynamic learning capability.

Findings

The collaborative model should enable construction organisations to successfully adapt and perform under changing market conditions. The complexity of learning cycles result in capabilities that are imperfectly imitable between organisations, explaining performance heterogeneity on projects.

Originality/value

The collaborative model provides a theoretically substantiated description of project performance, driven by the evolution of procurement systems and governance mechanisms. The model’s empirical value will be tested in future research.

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Article
Publication date: 10 October 2008

Le Chen and Sherif Mohamed

Within the construction industry there is a growing awareness of the need for linking knowledge management (KM) to business strategy, organisational objectives and…

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1412

Abstract

Purpose

Within the construction industry there is a growing awareness of the need for linking knowledge management (KM) to business strategy, organisational objectives and existing performance measures. This study was undertaken within the context of construction organisations, and attempts to provide the empirical evidence about the relationships between KM activities and organisational business performance.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of construction contractors operating in Hong Kong to investigate the opinions of construction professionals regarding the intensity of KM activities and business performance within their organisations. In parallel to the survey, semi‐structured interviews were undertaken to provide qualitative insights that helped to clarify and deepen understanding of the KM process within the context of the research target.

Findings

The investigation shows that knowledge utilisation is the strongest contributor to general business performance. In addition, the impact of KM activities on the lagging performance indicators of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), such as “financial performance”, is in an indirect manner, and through the leading indicators such as performance from “internal process” as well as “learning and growth” perspectives.

Originality/value

The study empirically establishes the linkage between intensity of KM activities and business performance, and demonstrates that KM strategies need to be explicitly formulated and measured according to organisational business objectives.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 January 2008

Le Chen and Sherif Mohamed

Recent knowledge management (KM) literature suggests that KM activities are influenced by the elements of the internal business environment (BE) of organisations. This…

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4339

Abstract

Purpose

Recent knowledge management (KM) literature suggests that KM activities are influenced by the elements of the internal business environment (BE) of organisations. This paper attempts to provide some unique insights into the contextual input of the KM process through empirically identifying the major factors (i.e. “forces”) within the internal BE of construction organisations operating in Hong Kong, and investigating their impact on the intensity of KM activities.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of construction contractors operating in Hong Kong to elicit opinions on the internal BE and intensity of KM activities as executed by targeted organisations. A total of 149 usable responses were received from 99 organisations representing about 38 percent of the research population. In parallel, to the survey, a total of 15 semi‐structured interviews were undertaken to provide more insights into the phenomenon under investigation.

Findings

Supported by the empirical and qualitative evidence, this study established that firstly, both organisational and technical environments have the capacity to either positively or negatively impact the intensity of KM activities, and both environments serve as stimuli in increasing each other's dynamism; secondly, certain types of KM activities are stronger “energy receivers” and easily to be “powered up” by manipulating factors representing these two environments. Then, through interactions between KM activities, the intensity of the whole strategic KM cycle will be increased thus helping to strengthen organisational competitive advantage.

Originality/value

The impact of internal BE on KM activities was both empirically and qualitatively investigated, from a strategic perspective, within the construction business context.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 8 September 2020

Vladimir C.M. Sobota, Geerten van de Kaa, Toni Luomaranta, Miia Martinsuo and J. Roland Ortt

This paper addresses the most important factors for the selection of additive manufacturing (AM) technology as a method of production of metal parts. AM creates objects by…

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1380

Abstract

Purpose

This paper addresses the most important factors for the selection of additive manufacturing (AM) technology as a method of production of metal parts. AM creates objects by adding material layer by layer based on 3D models. At present, interest in AM is high as it is hoped that AM contributes to the competitiveness of Western manufacturing industries.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature study is conducted to identify the factors that affect the selection of AM technology. Expert interviews and the best–worst method are used to prioritize these factors based on relative factor weights.

Findings

Technology, demand, environment and supply-related factors are categorized and further mapped to offer a holistic picture of AM technology selection. According to expert assessments, market demand was ranked highest, although market demand is currently lacking.

Research limitations/implications

The composition and size of the expert panel and the framing of some of the factors in light of previous literature cause validity limitations. Further research is encouraged to differentiate the selection factors for different AM implementation projects.

Originality/value

The paper presents a more complete framework of factors for innovation selection in general and the selection of AM technology specifically. This framework can serve as a basis for future studies on technology selection in the (additive) manufacturing sector and beyond. In addition to AM-specific factor weights, the paper explains why specific factors are important, reducing uncertainty for managers that have to choose between alternative manufacturing technologies.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 32 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

Keywords

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