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Chan, P W (2005) An interpretivistic approach to understand the factors that affect construction labour productivity, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University.
- Type: Thesis
- Keywords: construction labour productivity; site welfare; job prospects; skills training and qualifications; UK
This study revisited the concept of construction labour productivity with a view of developing a more holistic understanding of the factors that affect construction labour productivity. A critical appraisal of past research revealed labour productivity to be a complex social phenomenon. Thus, it was considered that the strong positivistic tradition, advocating an egalitarian approach, in past productivity research was inadequate in seeking improvements to the much-publicised low productivity in UK construction. The concept of construction labour productivity and its associated factors were explored through interviews with site managers and a nationwide questionnaire survey administered to project managers and site operatives in the UK. These were validated through further rounds of confirmatory interviews and site observations that investigated the practical manifestation of the factors that affect construction labour productivity. The research emphasised that workforce issues (e.g. site welfare, job prospects, skills training and qualifications) were critical to sustaining long-term productivity improvements and found these to underpin much of the shorter-term improvement strategies (e.g. adjustments to resource allocation and scheduling). Moreover, the research reiterated the chasm between white-collar managers and blue-collar operatives, with the former concentrating on more strategic planning issues whilst the latter being more concerned about the operational issues of projects. Through the site observations, it was noted that integrating the differences between white-collar managers and blue-collar operatives led to labour productivity improvements. This required paternalistic supervision, which should emphasise not only technical knowledge, but also the genuine desire to understand and respect the workforce.