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Ahn, S, Lee, S and Steel, R P (2013) Effects of Workers’ Social Learning: Focusing on Absence Behavior. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 139(08), 1015–25.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: Labor; Social factors; Construction management; Personnel management; Simulation; Productivity; Labor control; Absence; Social learning; Self-regulation; Organizational behavior; Agent-based modeling (ABM);
  • ISBN/ISSN: 0733-9364
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000680
  • Abstract:
    Workers’ consistent attendance is an indispensable condition for successful construction projects, but many construction projects still suffer from the productivity loss originating from workers’ absenteeism. To deal with this problem, construction managers have mainly used formal controls (e.g., penalties) targeting those individuals who present excessive absenteeism. However, recent research papers on absenteeism have testified to the paramount role of social factors, such as social norm, on workers’ absence behavior. Despite the increasing attention being paid to the social factors of workers’ absence behavior, discussion on how a social norm in favor of worker attendance control can be developed is sparse. If how such social norms emerge and how they play a role in controlling workers’ behavior are clear, construction managers can invest time in promoting favorable absence norms rather than focusing on regulations targeting individuals. Therefore, this paper studies the system-level effect of workers’ social learning using an experimental analysis with simulations in order to extend the knowledge of the social aspect in workers’ absence behavior. To conduct the analysis, an agent-based model was developed to serve as a comprehensive model that incorporates mechanisms of workers’ formal and social learning. The model was constructed by using theoretical and empirical findings on absence behavior drawn from scholarly literature. Then the constructed agent-based model was used to explore possible scenarios in organizations with simulations. With the simulation results, the following are demonstrated: (1) high social adaptation can work as a force to either increase or decrease workers’ absence rates; (2) when strict self-regulation is prevalent among workers, high social adaptation can lead to the development of a positive social norm at the jobsite; and (3) when high social adaptation reinforces formal rules, this occurrence reduces the need for additional formal controls on worker behavior. The results from this paper are expected to help construction organizations in understanding the availability of social norms in favor of management, and ultimately in using the social norm for effective labor control that meets little resistance.