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Brown, J D (2012) Corporate responsibility in the UK construction industry: a study of activities and reporting, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: case study; construction companies; corporate responsibility; health & safety; legislation; regulation; safety; United Kingdom
  • URL: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/14099/
  • Abstract:
    Corporate Responsibility (CR) defines the process of self-regulation, whereby an organisation seeks to measure and improve its performance related to the social, environmental and economic expectations placed upon it by society. In the past two decades the prominence, and therefore uptake of CR activities and reporting has increased across many sectors. The pace of this change has varied significantly, with many industries quickly becoming aware of its importance and integrating it into their business operations while others have seen CR as lower priority and have been much slower to embrace it. In the UK, while some of the individual components of CR are governed by legislation (e.g. environmental activities and health & safety), others such as social interactions and CR reporting have little or no legislation associated with them. This lack of any clear legislative requirements effectively allows organisations to report on any topics they wish and results in a very varied approach to implementing and reporting upon the subject. While some aspects of CR, such as reporting (Jones, Comfort et al. 2006), performance benchmarking (BITC, Graafland et al (2003)) and attitudes to CR (Herridge, (2003), Petrovic- Lazarevic, (2008)) have been investigated in isolation, there has been no attempt to provide a holistic view of the industry. This research seeks to do just that by combining a range of data in an effort to build a broad evidence base of the industry's reporting practices, performance and perceptions of the industry with regards to CR. This thesis presents the findings from a mixed-method review of CR reporting, activities and performance amongst UK construction companies. Mixed methodologies (qualitative and quantitative) were employed in order to interrogate a range of data sources. The methods employed in the empirical chapters of this work include a review of construction CR reports, a benchmarking exercise and a case study of consultancy companies operating in the construction industry. With regards to reporting, while some longitudinal changes were seen with respect to report size and levels of detail, a number of core or priority topics were identified which were commonly covered by construction companies regardless of which sub-sector they operated in. The benchmarking exercise attempted to compare the CR performance of companies within three construction sub-sectors (materials suppliers, contractors and consultants) and while some patterns were evident, such as topics where performance was consistently high, no clear trends were seen between the performances of the three sub-sectors reviewed. The case study highlighted a number of difficulties that are faced by consultancy companies and based upon the study, a range of recommendations which could potentially help to address some of them are proposed.