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Universiti Sains Malaysia Press

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Volume 20, No. 2, 2015

Title: Determining Significant Factors Influencing Malaysian Construction Business’ Performance in International Markets
Author: Che Maznah Mat Isa, Hamidah Mohd Saman and Christopher Preece
- Abstract  

Market expansion into foreign markets has become increasingly important for construction businesses including Malaysian contractors. Hence, it is imperative that these firms are able to sustain performance in international markets. This paper aims to determine the significant factors influencing the Malaysian contractors’ performance in international markets. This research adopts a mixed method adopting questionnaire surveys that were sent to 115 construction firms as a sampling frame. The quantitative findings were further validated through in-depth interviews with five firms currently operating at international level. It was found that the firms’ profit targets based on return on investment and revenues supported by the firms’ competitive advantages due to employees’ capabilities and competencies have significantly influenced the firms’ performance. However, further insights disclosed that having strong and stable human relationships were very important to enhance the firms’ performance in international markets. The findings build further understanding of international strategies for construction in developing countries. Finally, the study identifies the need for developing a suitable tool to measure firms’ performance by taking into consideration the complex elements within the identified significant influencing factors.

Keywords: Construction firms, Factors, International market, Performance, Quantitative, Qualitative

Title: Contractor Capacity and Waste Generation: An Empirical Investigation
Author: Krisanthi Seneviratne, Rameez Rameezdeen and Dilanthi Amaratunga
- Abstract  

This paper aims to test the hypothesis that an inverse relationship exists between the capacity of a contractor and the amount of waste generated in a construction site. In Sri Lanka, contractors are graded by an independent government agency, and this study uses fifteen projects undertaken by grade M1 to M5 contractors. M1 contractors constitute the highest grade and they have higher technical, financial, and managerial capabilities. These projects are examined to obtain cement wastages and link them to these respective grades in order to establish how their relationships work. The major finding is that upper grade contractors, who are more capable, generate less waste compared to their lower grade counterparts. It suggests that contractors’ capacity not only has desirable outcomes for better time, cost and quality objectives, but also benefits a client’s environmental objectives. While the present grading system in Sri Lanka does not take waste management into consideration, it is suggested that contractors’ waste management practices could vary immensely from M1 to the lower grades. Consequently, future revisions in the grading system should seriously consider incorporating waste management practices in order to provide an incentive to contractors who manage their waste appropriately. This will encourage more efficient waste reduction in construction sites.

Keywords: Construction waste, Contractor capacity, Waste reduction, Sri Lanka

Title: Unveiling the Challenges Faced by Malaysian Housing Developers Through Government Policy Changes
Author: Azlan Raofuddin Nuruddin, Syed Putra Syed Abu Bakar and Mastura Jaafar
- Abstract  

Despite being receptive to new ideas, Malaysian housing developers need to be responsive to the demands imposed upon the industry. One of the external factors that influence the growth of housing development firms is the intervention of government. The role of government in shaping the housing industry is especially pertinent since most land matters deal directly with local and state authorities. The regulations imposed by the government are perceived as imbalanced and serve only to increase the challenges confronted by housing developers to maintain their survivability. This paper is therefore aimed at disclosing the related challenges faced by housing developers with respect to current government issues. Appropriately, ten Malaysian housing developers were interviewed to unravel the reasons of their success in achieving business sustainability, including eliciting responses for the myriad of challenges faced. In order to analyse the findings, the qualitative approach was adopted through the content analysis method. All the interviewees highlighted several challenges that have impeded their progress in the management of the housing development business. Interestingly, the most notable challenge revealed by the respondents related to the vagaries of government rules and processes. Among the grievances mentioned by the participants were late approvals, sudden change of rules, non-uniform compliances and others of the ilk. Hence, there is a serious need for housing developers and the government to work in tandem, not only to minimise complaints directed towards the government, but to concertedly embrace changes in terms of policies and laws. A mutually beneficial wave of innovation is thus advocated, where the vested interests of both housing developers and house buyers will be protected accordingly. Also, with good comprehension of government procedures, the creation of economic empowerment and development will be easily realised.

Keywords: Challenges, Housing developers, Government regulations, Late approval, Qualitative approach

Title: Nature of Construction Industry, Its Needs and its Development: A Review of Four Decades of Research
Author: George Ofori
- Abstract  

The construction industry is not well understood. There is no common definition, and there are even arguments on whether it is an industry or a sector (comprising many industries). The contribution of the industry to economic growth and long-term national development is widely acknowledged. This highlights its importance, particularly to the developing countries. For the benefit of these countries, it is important to investigate the nature, essential characteristics and particular requirements of the construction industry, and use them to develop programmes for its improvement. A research programme which started in 1974 and is still continuing is discussed. The subjects studied in the research programme have included the nature of the construction industry, its importance in development, its needs and its development. Elements of the process of construction industry development which have been studied include ways and means of improving the performance of construction firms, focusing on contractors, and technology development. The findings from these early studies influenced the formulation of policies and legislation for establishing construction industry development agencies in a number of countries. Other aspects of the construction industry which are studied in the research programme include the parameters of performance in the industry, such as productivity and environmental performance. An information technology framework for construction was also developed. As the world was entering the information age, the implications for the industry were also studied. Finally, the concepts of leadership, ethics and transparency, and their importance on construction projects and in the construction industry have also been studied. The focus here is on industry development and its application to the delivery of housing. It is suggested that effective ways should be found to reduce the tendency to duplicate studies on the subjects, and to effectively build on relevant findings over time. A research agenda is proposed.

Keywords: Industry development, Technology development, Environmental performance, Leadership

Title: Documentation Management Based on ISO for Construction Industries in Developing Countries
Author: Sepani Senaratne and Jeevana Mayuran
- Abstract  

Improper document management (DM), which produces poor and erroneous documents, causes major issues such as claims and disputes in construction projects. Adopting proper documentation management system (DMS) will enable smooth running of construction projects and overcoming such issues. Quality management systems such as ISO standards are designed with generic DM requirements. In developed countries, it is seen that standard project management procedures and manuals are often used to guide such document requirements. However, construction industries in developing countries are still behind in this regard. Hence, this research aimed to explore the current DM requirements in the Sri Lankan construction industry with reasons for poor DM and suggestions to overcome. A questionnaire survey was conducted to a sample of 30 large construction contracting organisations operating in Sri Lanka, which had ISO certification. The findings revealed 40 DM related construction activities and their need and usage by the selected companies. Based on the suggestions given by respondents, this study offers a proposal on how to implement these activities and thereby develop an appropriate DMS for construction industry. This research will offer useful implications for developing countries, which use similar standards and encounter similar DM issues.

Keywords: Documentation Management, ISO, Quality Management System, Construction industry, Contractors

Title: Framework for Managing the Traffic Impacts of Building Construction Projects
Author: Khaled Hesham Hyari, El-Mohammad Mashaleh and Shaher Rababeh
- Abstract  

Major building construction projects are important to the economic development of urban areas. However, such projects have negative impacts on their surroundings, particularly on traffic. This paper presents a framework for mitigating the traffic impacts of building construction projects in urban areas. The proposed framework consists of two stages: identification of the logistical requirements of construction, and development of an impact mitigation plan to control the negative effects of construction traffic on the road network and the surrounding community. The adopted methodology includes: 1) review of available construction traffic management plans for twenty large building projects worldwide; (2) site visits to seven large building construction projects in urban areas; and (3) multidisciplinary focus group sessions to extract knowledge and synthesize the proposed framework for managing traffic impacts of building construction projects. The suggested framework provides systematic guidance for construction planners and site managers in developing a traffic management and impact mitigation plan for building construction projects. It could also help construction planners and site managers to better plan and manage construction activities so that they will have minimal impact on the surrounding roads and minimize unnecessary delays by organizing timely movement of resources to and from the construction site.

Keywords: Building construction, Project planning, Construction site, Impact mitigation, Traffic impact

Title: Key Stressors Leading to Construction Professionals Stress in Gaza Strip-Palestine
Author: Adnan Enshassi
- Abstract  

The aim of this paper is to investigate the key stressors which lead to stress among professionals in construction projects. A total of three hundred twenty questionnaire were distributed randomly to construction professionals in the Gaza Strip and 183 were returned yielding 51% response rate. Exploratory factor analysis was employed to explore the intererelationships among stressors attributes in four stressors groups (task, personal, physical, and organizational). The results of this study indicated that personality, and home-work conflicts are the most prevailing personal stressors caused stress to Gaza Strip construction professionals. This type of stress was induced because construction professionals did not give attention to their personal lives besides their job. Task stressors resulted from work overload of two types quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative overload came from working for long hours with too much work to do while qualitative overload resulted from wide range of responsibilities. Physical stressors were not recognized by Gaza Strip construction professionals as an important source of stress. Regarding organizational stressors it was found that policies, treatment, and reward were inadequate. Politicized environment and lack of feedback from supervisor were responsible for organizational structure stressors. This study will add value to the existing body of knowledge concerning Palestinian professionals’ perspectives of stressors in the construction industry. Professionals can take key stressors factors into consideration in managing stress in construction projects, so that stress can be minimized. Training sessions for construction professionals in managing and coping with stress is recommended.

Keywords: Stressors, stress, construction, professionals, factor analysis

Volume 21, No. 1, 2016

Title: Understanding Management Roles and Organisational Behaviour in Planning and Scheduling Based on Construction Projects in Oman
Author: Hammad Al Nasseri and Radhlinah Aulin
- Abstract  

There are many challenges associated with the construction processes of planning and scheduling. These challenges are relevant to all project parties or stakeholders and therefore management roles or organisational behaviours of those parties have to be properly considered and assessed. With this in mind, this study is aimed at assessing practitioners’ perspectives on the current significance and applicability of a set of criteria or factors concerned with management roles and organisational behaviour of the different parties based on construction projects in Oman. The study has adopted a quantitative approach in which a questionnaire-based survey was chosen and conducted to gather responses from construction projects in Oman. A total of 67 valid responses were analysed based on the rankings and means of the respondents’ perspectives on the significance and applicability of the identified factors to current practice. The overall findings indicated that all investigated factors should be critically considered as equally important to the development process of planning and scheduling. Nevertheless, the findings implied that a management priority should be given to the most important factors significantly affecting project planning and scheduling. The study provides some useful recommendations on how to improve project management (PM) roles and organizational behaviours (OB) in planning and scheduling on the part of key project parties.

Keywords: Project control, management roles, organisational behaviour, planning, scheduling, project parties, Oman

Title: Factors Influencing Success Rate of Contractors in Competitive Bidding for Construction Works in South-East, Nigeria
Author: Olugbenga Oladinrin, Olaniyi Aje and Chibuike Nwaole
- Abstract  

The focal point of this study was to assess the perspectives of construction professionals on factors influencing tender prices of construction works and the contribution of the factors to the success rate of contractors. Using literature review and questionnaire survey, fifteen factors were identified in respect to contractors’ tender price and success rate in Nigeria. The findings of this study based on the results of statistical analyses (mean score and chi-square) reveal that all the construction professionals (Architects, Builders, Engineers and Quantity Surveyors) are of the opinion that material availability, labour productivity and level of profit are the most significant factors that highly influence tender price of construction works and consequently affect the success rate of contractors in competitive bidding. Project definition and construction plan have least influence on contractors’ tender price. Also, it was found that government policy does not have significant effect on contractors’ success rate in competitive bidding in Nigeria. It is hoped that the information presented in this paper will be of interest to all parties concerned, including Nigerian construction companies and foreign companies planning to enter the Nigerian construction market. In addition, while the research focused on a particular country, Nigeria, the study can be replicated in other countries particularly developing countries and the results can be compared.

Keywords: Contractors; Bidding; Construction; Tender; Nigeria

Title: Evaluation of SPV Organization Skill Sets Taxonomy for Effective PPP Infrastructure Project Delivery
Author: Christy Gomez and Muhammad Gambo
- Abstract  

The necessary skill sets that public private partnership (PPP) stakeholders bring together is recognized as being paramount to the success of any PPP project. From preliminary research findings it is clear that there is a strong bias towards business-oriented skills rather than service-oriented skills by the special purpose vehicle (SPV) organization. This paper examines the skills sets required to ensure the effective delivery and implementation of the private sector–led PPP project with respect to the SPV organization in order to deliver Value for Money (VfM). A comprehensive literature review was conducted to establish the various skills needed by the SPV organization for the successful delivery of PPP infrastructure projects to form the basis of the research questionnaire. Questionnaire survey data obtained from a purposive sample of 48 public and private PPP stakeholders in Peninsular Malaysia was analysed using SPSS v18 to establish the relative importance of the various skill sets. The findings indicate ’Legal and contracting knowledge’ to be the most important; whilst ‘Conceptual skills’ as the least important skill for the SPV organization in PPP project implementation. The findings also indicated that there is a significant difference in the perception of public and private PPP stakeholders with respect to ‘Ability to clearly define technical and output specifications and standards for services to be procured’; implying less importance given by the private sector with regard to this skill. Drawing on the understanding that skill sets are critical denominators of the organizational structure, this research is expected to influence the development of appropriate guidelines for skills prioritization in the organization of SPVs and the effective management of PPP concession projects.

Keywords: Special Purpose Vehicle, Public Private Partnership, SPV skill sets, Infrastructure projects