Al Neyadi, Ahmed (University of Wolverhampton, 2019-08)
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) construction sector is an important industry and contributes approximately 11% of the GDP. It has been the most significant economic activity outside the oil sector. However, recession, uncertainty, complexity, sustainability, and climate change are among the most important features of the current construction business environment in the UAE. Although many construction firms throughout the world have successfully embedded sustainability, there is little information on how UAE construction organisations are embedding sustainability strategies for competitive advantage. Therefore, the aim of this research is to explore how the UAE construction organisations are embedding sustainable strategies to improve their competitive advantage from a social, environmental and economic point of view. The findings are in the main, based on semi-structured interviews with 44 professionals from UAE construction organisations. As part of the analysis of the interviews, content analysis was employed. The unit of analysis adopted for this study is the ‘construction industry’ and the embedded unit is ‘individual employee’.
The study recommend that the overall outlook for improved sustainability initiatives efforts from the UAE construction organisations looks quite promising at present. However, the implementation of green Building Information Modelling (BIM) and mobile applications technologies to tackle sustainability issues are relatively low uptake in the UAE construction organisations. Therefore, there is a need to reshape the UAE construction organisations existing digital strategy in order to gain sustainable competitive advantage. The decision makers have to recognise and understand the concept of sustainability from a triple bottom line concept. It is concluded that before organisations embed sustainability initiatives they need to understand and recognise key drivers, which are pushing them towards implementation. The lack of skills for successful deployment of sustainability strategies is one of the most important challenges for the UAE construction sector. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and deliver a bespoke training program to address, improve and measure the effectiveness of leadership skills for driving change towards sustainability. Most of the technologies included in Industry 4.0 are still at their infancies and for the future would recommend more research to be carried out on these technologies, this will enable the construction industry to understand the benefits that can be gained from these technologies and with the industry being known for resisting change, demonstrating these benefits can be the start of the construction industry embracing the change. Furthermore, it is recommended that future research on mobile applications for sustainability should focus on user readiness aspects, as well as organisation readiness for adoption and usage patterns of mobile devices. A framework for managing sustainability strategies in the UAE construction industry was developed and validated. Findings of this research are limited to the UAE construction industry context only, as such, the level of generalisability outside this context may be very limited.
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