An investigation into the impact of culture on construction project performance
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AuthorsAnkrah, Nii Amponsah
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractFor many years, government backed reports have continued to deplore the poor performance of the construction industry with many projects failing to exceed or live up to the expectations of clients. There is a common belief that the culture of the construction industry is one of the factors that has an impact on its performance. The culture of the construction industry at the project level is often associated with such attributes as fragmentation, antagonism, mistrust, poor communication, short-term mentality, blame culture, casual approaches to recruitment, machismo and sexism. These attributes are in turn associated with project outcomes like litigation, poor health and safety performance, and inferior quality. Whilst such associations are helpful to the extent that they focus attention on the failings of the industry, and point to aspects that need to be improved, they are arbitrary and often based on no more than anecdotal evidence, and as such do not provide a systematic basis for assessing the real impact of culture on performance. This research was thus undertaken to look for empirical evidence of a relationship between cultural orientations and project performance outcomes. Adopting social cognitive theory and defining culture as the unique configuration of solutions – embodied in attitudes, behaviours and conditions – that a construction project organisation and its members adopt in dealing with problems at the project level, a quantitative research methodology was employed in investigating the culture within the project coalition, also referred to in this thesis as the construction project organisation (CPO). CPOs were profiled to determine their cultural orientations. Several project performance indicators were also assessed and the relationships between these performance measures and the cultural orientations were examined. Analysis revealed five principal dimensions of culture along which project organisations differ. These dimensions are workforce orientation, performance orientation, team orientation, client orientation and project orientation. With the exception of performance and client orientation, the other dimensions of culture were found to be significantly associated with project performance outcomes. These associations were modelled using multiple regression, and from these models it can be inferred inter alia that projects with higher workforce orientation have better participant satisfaction and innovation and learning outcomes. Projects with higher team orientation have better participant satisfaction and health & safety and quality outcomes. Likewise projects with higher project orientation have better health & safety and quality outcomes. Although causality cannot be assumed, these findings support the thesis that culture matters. It is therefore recommended that project participants – and in particular contractors, devote more effort and resources towards improving the orientations of their CPOs in respect of the dimensions of culture identified as having significant association with project performance outcomes, particularly workforce, team and project orientations.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)