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Article
Publication date: 2 July 2021

Christopher Amoah, Emmanuel Bamfo-Agyei and Fredrick Simpeh

COVID-19 came as a surprise to the global economy and devastated many sectors worldwide, including the construction sector. Small construction firms are believed to be an…

Abstract

Purpose

COVID-19 came as a surprise to the global economy and devastated many sectors worldwide, including the construction sector. Small construction firms are believed to be an engine of growth in many developing countries, including Ghana; thus, their survival cannot be trivialized. This study explored the impact of the COVID-19 on the businesses of the small confirms in Ghana.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research approach was adopted for this study. Open-ended interview questions were distributed via email to 45 small construction firms (D3K3 and D4K4) purposefully selected. Thematic contents analysis was used to analyze 30 interview questions received.

Findings

This study has revealed that the COVID-19 has severely affected small construction firms in Ghana. Small construction firms are struggling in their finances; their cash flow/payments for work done are severely affected; they cannot secure contracts and management site efficiently. Their worker's productivity level has dwindled, which has subsequently escalated their project cost and completion time. These effects identified are significantly affecting the survival of these small construction firms.

Research limitations/implications

The study included small construction operating in the Central, Western and Greater Accra regions of Ghana during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the findings may be applicable to construction sites outside these regions.

Practical implications

The implication is the COVID-19 pandemic hugely impacts the small construction firm's business operations. Therefore, they must be mindful of the new norm (COVID-19) and institute strategies to help them overcome the challenges and sustain their businesses.

Originality/value

The study gives insight into the effects of the COVID-19 on the businesses of small construction firms in Ghana and proposes strategies that they must implement to overcome their challenges and sustain their businesses.

Details

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6099

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2021

Sunan Babar Khan, David G. Proverbs and Hong Xiao

Health and safety in small construction firms is often neglected by owners leading to poor health and safety performance and unacceptably high fatality and injury rates. A…

Abstract

Purpose

Health and safety in small construction firms is often neglected by owners leading to poor health and safety performance and unacceptably high fatality and injury rates. A body of knowledge has established significant links between the motivational behaviours of operatives towards health and safety. Motivation is also considered as a key tool for improving operative productivity as when operatives experience safe worksites, they can carry out their work in a more productive manner. The purpose of this research is to develop a framework to examine the motivational factors that affect operative health and safety in small construction firms.

Design/methodology/approach

A critical review and synthesis of the body of knowledge incorporating motivational theory, health and safety literature and the factors which characterise small firms, is used to develop the framework.

Findings

Key components of the framework include the presence of intrinsic and extrinsic components, appropriate health and safety policies and procedures, the type of work environment, the operatives (i.e. attitude, experience and training) as well as the presence of appropriate management and supervision. The study revealed that operatives in small firms are less likely to be extrinsically motivated due to the absence of training, management commitment, policies and the wider working environment

Research limitations/implications

Failure of motivational support can result in increased danger and risk in exposing operatives to injury in the small firm environment. In this context, the damage caused to operative's health and safety in small construction firms is dependent mainly on the extrinsic factors.

Practical implications

The framework provides a basis for improving our understanding of how to motivate operatives to act safely and will help to improve the health and safety performance of small firms. It is therefore vital to emphasise enhancement efforts on these extrinsic strategies in the small firms' environment especially in the initial stages of the project (or activity), so that the health and safety of operatives in small firms can be improved.

Originality/value

This study proposes a contribution in developing an understanding of the motivational factors and their influence on the health and safety of operatives in small construction firms. The study revealed that operatives in small firms are less likely to be extrinsically motivated and have only intrinsically motivated elements in their workplace. The study proposes an indirect link between the extrinsic and intrinsic factors that affect motivation.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Rosman Mahmood, Ahmad Suffian Mohd Zahari, Najihah Marha Yaacob and Sakinah Mat Zin

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the importance of innovation for the performance of small firms in the construction sector. Furthermore, this paper also examines…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the importance of innovation for the performance of small firms in the construction sector. Furthermore, this paper also examines the influence of several factors related to entrepreneurial capital (entrepreneurial value, business strategy, experience and training) on small firm performance in the sector.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses primary data of 255 small firms in the construction sector under the category of small contractors (G1). Stratified sampling method was utilized for data collection, which is then analyzed using the descriptive and multiple regression analysis to achieve the objectives of the study.

Findings

The findings showed that the factor of innovation and several factors related to entrepreneurial capital (entrepreneurial value, business strategy and business experience) have a significant positive relationship with the performance of small firms in the construction sector. However, factor of training indicated a significant negative correlation with small firm performance.

Research limitations/implications

Although this study found a significant impact in explaining the factors that affect performance, particularly in the construction sector, it only takes into account only some internal factors (entrepreneurial capital and innovation). Proposed future research should consider a variety of other factors mainly related to external factors, such as economic development, growth potential, industry structure, internal social capital and government policy.

Practical implications

This study provides clear implications related to the theory and contributions to the literature related to research in the construction sector. The study also provides invaluable insightfulness to various stakeholders including policy makers, institutional support and small contractors about the importance of innovation and entrepreneurial capital in determining the performance of small firms in the sector.

Originality/value

The results provide supportive evidence that entrepreneurial values and business strategy are important internal factors in determining the performance of a firm, which is consistent with the theory of resource-based view. Experience and training factors, as indicators of firm performance, are articulated in the theory of human capital. Hence, the findings not only can strengthen both the theories but also make a significant contribution to the literature of the study, particularly in the construction sector.

Details

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8270

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2017

Ayirebi Dansoh, Daniel Oteng and Samuel Frimpong

The purpose of this research is to identify the conditions under which the internal environment of small construction firms makes them either develop or adopt an innovation.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to identify the conditions under which the internal environment of small construction firms makes them either develop or adopt an innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

The research described in this paper adopted a qualitative case study approach. The data were obtained from multiple sources such as face-to-face semi-structured interviews with company representatives and from project reports.

Findings

The study identified that firms’ decision to either adopt or develop an innovation is determined by a complex interaction between their internal environment and 12 different conditions. Some of the findings contrast widespread perceptions in broader literature on innovation development and adoption in small construction firms.

Research limitations/implications

The study focused only on firms from two regions in Ghana. Additionally, adopting a purely qualitative approach meant that the quantitative impacts of the different factors were not presented.

Practical implications

The results can inform the decisions of agencies and persons wishing to invest their resources in innovation activities of small construction firms. It can also inform the policy debate and directions of government and industry associations looking to create innovation-friendly environments in the small business sector.

Originality/value

This research provides a better understanding of innovation development and adoption by small construction firms. Given that there is little previous research on innovation by small construction firms, especially in developing economies, the paper complements existing studies that generally focus on much larger firms and developed economies.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2015

Helen Lingard, Michelle Turner and Sara Charlesworth

The purpose of this paper is to compare the quality of work-life experiences of workers in construction firms of differing sizes and explored the work conditions and…

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1442

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the quality of work-life experiences of workers in construction firms of differing sizes and explored the work conditions and circumstances that impact upon the work-life experiences of workers in small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Australian construction industry.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected in two stages. First, data from a sub-set of construction industry workers were extracted from a large scale survey of workers in Victoria, Australia (the VicWAL survey). The survey measured work-life interference using the Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI). Next a subset of survey respondents was identified and interviewed to gain more detailed explanatory information and insight into work-life experiences.

Findings

The survey results indicated that respondents who reported working for a construction firm with between 16 and 99 employees reported significantly higher AWALI scores (indicating high work-life interference) than workers in organisations employing 15 or less or more than 100 workers. The follow-up interviews revealed that workers in small construction organisations were managed directly and personally by the business owner/manager and able to access informal work-life supports that were provided on an “as needs” basis. In comparison workers in medium-sized firms perceived higher levels of work pressure and an expectation that work would be prioritised over family life.

Research limitations/implications

The research shows that the findings of work-life balance research undertaken in large construction organisations cannot be generalised to SMEs. Organisation size should also be treated as an important variable in work-life balance research in construction.

Practical implications

The research suggests that a better understanding of how workers in SME construction firms experience work-life balance is important in the design and development of work-life balance programs. In particular the challenges faced by workers as companies grow from SMEs require careful consideration and management.

Originality/value

Previous research has focused on the work-life balance experiences of employees in large construction firms. Little was previously known about the experiences of workers in SME construction firms. The research provides new insight into the work-life experiences of construction workers in organisations of varying sizes.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2018

Xianhai Meng and Andrew Brown

The importance of innovation has been increasingly highlighted in construction as a large and complex industry sector that is more challenging than ever before. To bridge…

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1259

Abstract

Purpose

The importance of innovation has been increasingly highlighted in construction as a large and complex industry sector that is more challenging than ever before. To bridge the knowledge gap about how firm size affects innovation in construction, the purpose of this paper is to explore firm-level innovation through an empirical investigation and compare innovation in construction firms of different sizes in terms of drivers and strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

This research adopts a combination of a literature review, a group of qualitative interviews and a quantitative questionnaire survey. In this research, the questionnaire survey is the main instrument to collect empirical data. Main contractors, subcontractors and specialist contractors as well as suppliers of labor, material and equipment are used in this research to represent construction firms of different sizes. On the other hand, client organizations, design firms and management consultants are not included in this research.

Findings

This research provides clear evidence for the embrace of innovation in construction. Many forces can drive construction firms to innovate and many strategies can be applied to construction innovation. Innovation drivers can be either internal or external. On the other hand, innovation strategies fall into four categories: technology, resource, marketing and management. For innovation drivers and strategies, both commonalities and differences can be found among construction firms of different sizes.

Originality/value

The finding of commonalities describes the general trend of innovation development in construction. It also encourages all construction firms to innovate regardless of firm size. On the other hand, the finding of differences enables construction firms of different sizes to realize what forces better drive their innovation and what strategies are more appropriate for their innovation. A thorough understanding of innovation drivers and strategies offers an important framework for construction organizations and practitioners to pursue best practice.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 25 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2005

G. Packham, C.J. Miller, B.C. Thomas and D. Brooksbank

Entrepreneurship and small business development has been subject to a considerable amount of academic speculation. Previous studies contend that small fast growth firms

Abstract

Entrepreneurship and small business development has been subject to a considerable amount of academic speculation. Previous studies contend that small fast growth firms are more likely to have developed or acquired managerial practices in areas such as human resource management, finance and marketing. Despite this evidence there is little known as to why growing construction firms adopt key management practices. This paper examines how small growth oriented construction firms have adopted management practices to sustain growth. A group interview technique was utilized to examine the management development process within small construction firms in the South Wales area. The research revealed that while management practices such as marketing, financial management and planning had been implemented to facilitate growth, the importance of these practices often varied across firms. Nevertheless, firms that continued to be growth oriented were more inclined to consider the strategic benefits that certain practices provide. Based on these findings the paper concludes that management training initiatives aimed at improving firm development in the construction industry must be tailored to fit the strategic goals of the firm if they are to engender sustainable growth.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 17 April 2009

David Thorpe, Neal Ryan and Michael B. Charles

Through investigating the innovation‐adoption process in smaller construction industry firms, this paper aims to ascertain the drivers of innovation in Australian small

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1927

Abstract

Purpose

Through investigating the innovation‐adoption process in smaller construction industry firms, this paper aims to ascertain the drivers of innovation in Australian small residential building firms, and determine how such firms develop or adopt innovations. The research thus provides a more thoroughly nuanced understanding of the innovation‐adoption process within these firms.

Design/methodology/approach

The research described in this paper was conducted among small residential housing contractors in South‐East Queensland, Australia. This was undertaken by means of a semi‐structured interview process, based on a questionnaire requesting information from owners or managers.

Findings

Innovation in this sector is driven by general business concerns pertaining to maintaining overall competitiveness rather than specific client needs. The same firms also utilize supply‐chain relationships and broader industry associations as sources of external knowledge. Despite this, better pathways to transfer externally generated knowledge require implementation, especially as a means to ensure continued sector growth and deliver public goods such as enhanced worker health and environmental sustainability.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the current communication and informational disjuncture between research institutions and practitioners. As a result, workable suggestions for enhanced and meaningful interaction among firms, peak bodies and key research institutions are advanced.

Originality/value

The study complements previous research on innovation development and adoption. Given that there is little previous research on the innovation‐adoption process in the residential building sector, the paper provides an important counterpoint to studies that generally focus on much larger construction firms.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2004

Martin Sexton and Peter Barrett

Findings were drawn from an 18 month research project involving in‐depth case study and action research fieldwork with seven small construction companies to understand the…

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4445

Abstract

Findings were drawn from an 18 month research project involving in‐depth case study and action research fieldwork with seven small construction companies to understand the role and significance of innovation for them. A key finding of the work has been the importance of the role of effective technology transfer in the innovation process. The “organizational factors of innovation” model is presented as an analytical and prescriptive tool to assist small construction firms to understand better and manage the technology transfer process. The utility and application of the model is illustrated with a case study.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2019

Mohd Rosli Mohamad and Normayuni Mat Zin

This paper aims to discuss the mediating effects of innovation on the relationship between knowledge management and firm competitiveness.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss the mediating effects of innovation on the relationship between knowledge management and firm competitiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from small construction firms in the Eastern Region of Peninsular Malaysia. Out of the 190 construction firms surveyed, 153 (80.5%) respondents returned their completed questionnaire. These were used for data analysis. The data were then analyzed using the covariance-based structural equation modeling (SEM).

Findings

Knowledge management had a direct and significant positive effect on firm competitiveness. Nonetheless, the effect of knowledge management on firm competitiveness was mediated by innovation. This indicates that knowledge management should be supported by technical and administrative innovations in the firm.

Research limitations/implications

The data collected were from a limited sample of construction firms. In addition, conducting a study on a region of Malaysia may limit the generalizability of the model.

Practical implications

While knowledge management is crucial for a firm’s competitiveness, technical and administrative innovations must be concurrently improved for a stronger firm competitiveness. This is especially true in terms of financial strength and core competence.

Originality/value

This paper provides some empirical evidence that technical and administrative innovations fully mediated the relationship between knowledge management and firm competitiveness. The results consolidate the resource-based view on the importance of internal resource and capability of the firm and improve KM research area. It also strengthens the view that KM is a critical factor for firm competitiveness, but a good KM without strong innovation will not increase the competitiveness of small construction firms.

Details

Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal , vol. 29 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1059-5422

Keywords

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