All Change in Construction: A Comparative Analysis of Construction Industry Reform in the UK, Hong Kong, and Singapore

Project Overview

How much has really changed since the publication of Sir John Egan’s 1998 Report ‘Rethinking Construction’? And how have similarly high profile reviews of international construction sectors influenced the industry?

Background

Over ten years ago Sir John Egan (1998) published his seminal report on the UK construction industry entitled Rethinking Construction. This was followed by similarly high-profile reviews of the construction industries in Singapore and Hong Kong, published in 1999 and 2001 respectively (Construction 21 Steering Committee, 1999; CIRC, 2001). The two studies, inspired by the Egan Report, were initially activated by local construction industry concerns. In all three cases the espoused intention was to attain a radical transformation of construction performance through a planned series of change initiatives. The purpose of this research was to offer a comparative evaluation of the extent to which the three initiatives have been successful.

Key Objectives

The primary aim was to study and compare the implementation of the respective construction industry improvement programmes in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore. The specific research objectives were:

  • To ascertain and evaluate against their original objectives, the outcomes from the implementation of the construction industry performance improvement programmes in Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK since 2001, 1999 and 1998 respectively;
  • To assess the respective roles of government agencies and the private sector including professional and trade bodies, in the implementation of the advocated reforms;
  • To compare the institutional characteristics of the construction industries in Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK, and the extent to which these characteristics influenced the implementation of the above reforms;
  • To draw lessons from these three implementation programmes for future construction industry improvements in each jurisdiction/ context;
  • To develop a research agenda for contributing to the effort to realise improvements in the construction industries of the three jurisdictions in addition to other national/ regional contexts;
  • To present specific recommendations tailored to each jurisdiction/context, for the development of appropriate performance metrics and targets, with particular emphasis on sustainable monitoring and continuing improvements.

The research project was undertaken by dedicated teams at the National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong, and University of Reading, UK.

Findings from the research can be found in Professor Green's recently published a book exploring the construction improvement agenda. Titled "Making Sense of Construction Improvement", the book sets out deliberately to challenge current directions in construction management, confronting the assumption that knowledge is uni-dimensional and accumulative. Current trends in construction management are set in the context of social, economic and political change over the past thirty years. A recurring theme throughout the book is the complex interplay between the espoused managerial rhetoric and the realities of structural change in the construction sector.

Partners

University of Hong Kong (Prof. Mohan Kumaraswamy)
National University of Singapore (Prof. George Ofori)

Associated Staff

  • Professor Stuart Green (lead academic)
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