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Title: Measuring the quality of contractors' co-ordination activities during the construction process
Authors: De Saram, D. Darshi
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2002
Abstract: Construction co-ordination is a management function that has received a smallest amount of quality improvement attention than many others. The objective of the thesis is to study the important function of construction co-ordination, in particular to see if the quality of co-ordination can be measured in some way. Without the ability to measure, it is difficult to confidently improve the quality of the co-ordination function. Possibly the industry practitioners have found it difficult to align construction co-ordination function with the 'classic' quality improvement models of Total Quality because of its process characteristics of Informality, Intangibility, Customers' participation in the processes (Co-production), Low repetition, Customers not soliciting the service (Unsolicited Service) and Problem solving content involved. To understand how this type of process can be improved the present research described in this thesis tested the two hypotheses: H1: Attributes based quality measurement tools are not applicable to the construction co-ordination processes. H2: The Critical Incident Technique (CIT) is a practical method for measuring the quality of construction co-ordination processes. The bulk of the formal research activity consisted of four experiments. Experiment 1 was conducted to understand the recent construction industry experiences of using the two multi-attribute quality measurement systems, 'Performance Assessment Scoring System' (PASS) and 'Construction Quality Assessment System' (CONQUAS), in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively. A study was conducted by a questionnaire survey followed by a series of in-depth interviews with a selected number of the respondents where it was investigated whether the two systems are successfully contributing towards achieving improved customer satisfaction and continuous improvement of products and processes. Results showed that the usefulness of PASS and CONQUAS as quality improvement tools are flawed because of the mandatory enforcement involved, they are not administered by people involved in the processes, they are used for judgemental purposes, they are unable to furnish statistical evidence of quality, they cannot systematically identify customer expectations, they focus only on the outputs and are based on conformance to specifications instead of customer satisfaction. Based on these lessons learnt, it was decided that these two measurement models are not suitable to be used for testing H1 and H2. A literature review revealed that there is no formal understanding of how day-to-day co-ordination is achieved on a construction project. A study (Experiment 2) was therefore directed at identifying what activities are performed to achieve co-ordination and which among those are the most important and more time consuming for the construction co-ordinator. Texts on the duties and responsibilities of project managers were reviewed to develop an array of 64 issues relevant to achieving co-ordination. A questionnaire was developed to present these issues to construction project managers and senior co-ordinators so that they could indicate on a 3-point scale against each, the relative importance and the relative time consumed. The 33 responses received from Hong Kong and Singapore indicated that 'identifying strategic activities and potential delays' and 'ensuring the timeliness of all work carried out' are the most important co-ordination activities. 'Conducting regular meetings and project reviews' and 'analysing the project performance, detecting variances and dealing with their effects' appear to be the most time consuming activities. Based on the results of the latter experiment, the testing of Hypothesis H1 was focused on the three co-ordination processes: (1) Identifying strategic activities and potential delays, (2) Ensuring the timeliness of all work carried out and (3) Liaison with the client and consultants. The hypothesis was tested (Experiment 3) by interviewing and soliciting from industry practitioners, in-depth knowledge and understanding relating to the application of a multi-attribute measurement model (that require identification of attributes of the process and ranking their quality and importance) to each of these three processes. The survey revealed how the characteristics of all three processes of informality, intangibility, low repetition, co-production by customers, unsolicited service and problem solving work caused great difficulties in applying the eight steps of the multi-attribute quality measurement model. On the strength of these arguments, Hypothesis H1 was accepted. Hypothesis H2 was tested (Experiment 4) by collecting critical (highly satisfying or dissatisfying) incidents experienced by a variety of customers and other stakeholders of co-ordination processes and analysing them. Analysis of the 23 incidents collected demonstrated that the Critical Incident Technique could enable identification of the implicit, explicit and latent expectations of customers and other stakeholders, evaluation of the quality of co-ordination processes and outputs and a comprehension of information useful for quality improvement. Therefore. Hypothesis H2 was accepted. Hitherto, there are no records of the application of the Critical Incident Technique in the construction industry. It is envisaged however, that in-depth knowledge gathered through its consistent application, could be used to develop a management maturity grid that would provide guidance to future project managers on how various aspects of the co-ordination function could be improved in incremental steps. The thesis concludes that the Critical Incident Technique is a practical method for measuring the quality of construction co-ordination processes while multi-attribute quality measurement tools are not applicable to these processes.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Construction industry -- Subcontracting -- China -- Hong Kong
Construction industry -- Subcontracting -- Singapore
Construction industry -- China -- Hong Kong -- Quality control
Construction industry -- Singapore -- Quality control
Critical incident technique
Pages: xxviii, 472 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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