Document Type

Theses, Ph.D

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Construction engineering, Civil engineering

Publication Details

A Thesis Submitted to the School of Surveying and Construction Management, College of Engineering and Built Environment of Technological University Dublin in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD) degree

Abstract

The construction industry contributes significantly to the socio-economic development of nations through infrastructure development, and job creation culminating into the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Quantity Surveying Professional Service Firms (QSPSFs) play a critical role in the construction industry by ensuring that projects are delivered within cost, required quality and duration by providing technical and knowledge-intensive services to clients, contractors and stakeholders. Irish QSPSFs are facing challenges such as tender price inflation, intense competition, a skills shortage and disruptive technology. These challenges coupled with the cyclicality of the sector create a turbulent business environment for Irish QSPSFs, yet there remains a paucity of empirical evidence pertaining to how strategic decisions are made by these firms. Strategic planning is critical to addressing the challenges confronting business organisations such as the Irish QSPSFs; however, to date strategic planning has focused to a greater extent on manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, consumer products and light manufacturing, whereas there remains limited empirical investigation within the construction industry. This study aims to address this gap by examining the strategic decision-making process of Irish QSPSFs operating in the changing environment of the construction industry. What sets the research apart is that a Dynamic Capabilities (DC) perspective has been used with focus on sensing; seizing; and transformation, culminating into its integration into the development of a strategic decision-making framework. This study is entrenched in the pragmatist philosophical stance with emphasis on the positivist and interpretivist position and adopts mixed method by using quantitative and qualitative approaches over two phases. The first phase involves a survey administered with support from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) to 350 member practices whereby a single senior Quantity Surveyors (QS) in each practice was invited to participate. Seventy-two usable survey questionnaires completed by respondents were prepared for data analysis. The second phase of the research comprised of interview with ten chief executives or managing directors of Irish QSPSFs. The study found the most preferred strategic choice at the corporate level of QSPSFs as the expansion of services to new markets and sectors. At the business level, the investigation discovered the differentiation of services as the main strategic choice of QSPSFs. Furthermore, participation in strategic decision-making is very critical to the success of strategy formulation in organisations. This study identifies the factors that drive participation in strategic decision-making as the knowledge and competence of staff; personality traits; and the ability of people to make decision at the operational level of the organisation. The investigation also found that strategic change has occurred in QSPSFs over the past ten years. This strategic change is attributable to turbulent environmental conditions such as economic recession, in particular reference to the prolong economic recession 2008-2013. The investigation identified the specific strategic changes that occurred in QSPSFs as growth and expansion into new markets; agglomeration, and changes in the ownership and management structure. The negative and positive impacts of economic recession on QSPSFs have also been identified in this investigation. For instance, a radical shift in strategic response from being proactive to reactive; and self-preservation of ownership structure are the ii adverse effects of economic recession identified by the study while knowledge acquisition; and risk profiling for identification and capturing of opportunities are the positive impacts of economic recession. The study found significant statistical evidence to confirm a strong relationship between the turbulent business environment and the strategic decision-making process characteristics of QSPSFs. A strategic decision-making framework was developed on the basis of field work undertaken which was subsequently validated by respondent practices. The framework is the first of its kind pertaining to construction PSFs.

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