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Andreas, B (2019) A framework for understanding the policy process for construction, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering , Loughborough University.
- Type: Thesis
- Keywords: industrial policy; interview; policy; political economy analysis; strategy
- URL: https://doi.org/10.26174/thesis.lboro.12302432.v1
The policy process for construction in the UK does not seem to deliver the intended results, yet relatively little research has been carried out in this area using the analytical frameworks and tools available from other disciplines. The approach known as Political Economy Analysis (PEA) was investigated by its application to policy for construction using sectoral level policy (Construction Industrial Policy, CIP) as the unit of analysis. The research strategy was interpretivist, and the research design was cross-sectional. Two parallel, but mutually reinforcing, objectives were adopted. The first was, by use of the PEA approach, to generate an understanding of the way in which policy for construction may be shaped. The second objective was to develop a form of PEA which would be relevant to the construction sector. Primary data was generated through semi-structured interviews with a wide range of individuals each with current experience of the industry. Where possible, observations were triangulated using secondary sources. Data was analysed and a framework developed using abductive methods, with PEA concepts as the starting point. Reasons for flawed CIP were found to include: the difficulty of defining a universally agreed scope of the industry, the near-unique vulnerability of the sector to economic cycles, the UK’s tendency towards policy churn and the focus of policymakers on announcement rather than longer term strategy and implementation. However, the persistence of CIP in different forms despite these structural and institutional challenges was found to rest on both fundamental needs, in part related to the public sector’s role as main client, and on important political interests. Use of PEA was found to stimulate a system-wide approach which brings to the fore the identification of structural causes and networks of influence. PEA allows a visualisation of causal links to be generated which has potential as a means of communication and to support a collaborative style of working. Attempts to understand CIP, and more specific areas of policy, will be much better informed if CIP is acknowledged to be integral to any wider societal understanding of industrial policy, and as a product of the political economy context. The utilisation of the analytical framework of PEA, as a sensitizing device, can yield a richer understanding of the nature, limitations and potential of policy for construction whether at the level of the sector, sub-sector or specialised policy topic. Further research in this area can help to create over time a body of knowledge which can foster a more widely shared, richer, understanding of the nature of policy for construction. Recommendations for future work include use of the PEA framework in the comparison of UK construction policy with that of other countries and other sectors.