11,296 research outputs found

    Towards a human resources management approach in supply chain management

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    Supply chain management (SCM) has grown as a discipline since the field attracted attention in the 1980s. However, it is observed that effective implementation of SCM is limited because the current focus is too task-based and information-centric. The concept is often conflated, in practice, with subcontractor management, where numerical flexibility is pertinent. At the same time, consideration of human resources management (HRM) in SCM has been limited. Strategic fit within supply chains tends to emphasise taskbased numerical flexibility, rather than genuine consideration and development of human resources. On the other hand, HRM has, until recently, rarely taken into account interorganisational characteristics that typify the construction industry. Therefore, this research intends to plug the gap by examining the use of human resources in construction supply chains, with a view of developing good practice for HRM in construction SCM. To achieve this, a two-phase research methodology comprising a scoping phase and case study phase will be ensued

    Exploring the 'hidden' in organisations: methodological challenges in construction management research

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    There has been recognition of the limitations of technocratic approaches to construction management research, and critical theorists in the field have often rejected prescriptive explanations of social phenomena. Thus, there has been a rise in the use of interpretive methodological approaches and a proliferation of qualitative research methods in the construction management literature. Still, interpretive research that requires interaction between the researcher and her informants often confronts the age-old, fundamental challenge that is posed to social science research: that is, what really does go on in organisations, beyond what is (and can be) said and seen? Through post-hoc reflection of a recent study into innovation in construction, it was found that multiple perspectives matter in shaping our understanding of how innovative practices manifests in construction. An observation was also made regarding the hidden agendas of senior management participants in recognising, rewarding and promoting innovation, which potentially contribute to disconnections between theory and practice of innovation in construction. Questions are raised as to how researchers can help articulate these ‘hidden’ agendas and methodological challenges discussed here points to the virtues and limitations of the ethnographic approach

    To reciprocate or not to reciprocate: Exploring temporal qualities in reciprocal exchanges in networks

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    In this article, we sought to draw theoretical explanations of reciprocal exchanges in networks and how reciprocity is seen as the building block of network sustainability through employing a temporal perspective. The article’s main contribution was to provide fresh insights into how temporality, drawn upon Bergson’s philosophy, advanced the way we look at reciprocity and consequently provided three perspectives of time, namely; emergent networks, discursive practices, and possible times. The practical implications of such perspectives inform organisation on how to select networks and predict their benefits. The research method included 28 interviews and casual observation of network sessions

    Coordination of infrastructure development : some international comparisons

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    This report presents the findings from a desktop review into how governments across a selection of countries coordinate infrastructure development by working with the industry. The selected countries included the UK (Northern Ireland was examined separately from mainland UK), Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The goal is to identify alternative means of coordinating infrastructure development at the government level, with a view to assist the Institution of Civil Engineers to make the case for a more strategic approach to planning and delivery of infrastructure. The need for this report derives from growing complexity in the way infrastructure development programmes are procured, and the shifting role of government from provider of infrastructure development to enabler of the process of delivery. Thus, an opportunity arose to compare alternative arrangements of government coordination. There were similarities of political governance landscape between the investigated countries regarding strategies of infrastructure delivery. Differences exist however in the way resources are allocated and decisions made regarding infrastructure development. A potential for greater transparency and collaboration between public and private sector was identified. In Germany, for example, local governments enjoy a great deal of autonomy in defining infrastructural requirements, even though the definition of requirements has to align with high-level planning principles at the regional, national and European levels. Delivery of infrastructure development is devolved to the local governments working with a range of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors with funding provided by regional allocations. By contrast, infrastructure development is coordinated by a single high-level government department Canada, Japan and South Korea. The make-up of this department varies across the three countries, with subtle differences in the roles and responsibilities of each constituent part. Nonetheless, the benefits of such an approach include a whole-systems view in decision-making and a somewhat simpler, more transparent way of funding allocation. Furthermore, in the case of Japan and South Korea, resources can be more effectively channelled towards advancing research and development related to infrastructure development capacity and more clarity in terms of skills development. The UK, on the other hand, has a fragmented approach in addressing infrastructure development, with a continuously evolving system of government departments and agencies having some form of influence on determining infrastructural requirements. In order to redress some of the challenges with such fragmentation, the situation in Northern Ireland differs slightly with the formation of a Strategic Investment Board Limited charged with overseeing infrastructure programmes, making delivery more transparent

    What do networks do to work: the agential role of network

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    The article draws on an ongoing study of interorganisational learning in project based organisations and how organisations learn through network settings. The article aimed at drawing theoretical explanations of network learning especially after learning moved from interorganisational learning to inter-networked learning. The article employs the structure agency relationship by Dave Elder-Vass as theoretical lens to draw conclusions that provides fresh explanations of how network are helpful in fostering learning activities. The research method included interviews, observation and archives. Data were analysed using thematic analysis which generated codes and then conclusion were drawn. The main contributions of this article are (1) to portray agency as another face of structure, (2) stress the agential role of networks, and (3) looking at networks as agents provides fresh understanding of benefits of networks

    An institutional perspective on managing migrant workers in the North of England

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    Despite advances made in our understanding of migrant worker issues, analysis of the literature reveals disconnections between the policy and practice of 'managed migration' across three fundamental levels of the state (e.g. public institutions at the EU, national and regional levels), corporate (e.g. employers and unions) and community (e.g. migrant social networks) levels. Consequently, this has implications on corporate and community aspects that often escape deeper analytical scrutiny. Concomitantly, the literature often assumes that policy decisions at the state level are necessarily homogeneous, and fails to account for the local specificities that could exist in this area. This research therefore sought to investigate the interplay between state, corporate and community levels in managing migrant workers across three regions in the North of England, and explore its implications on managing migrant worker employment in construction. The key research questions examined include the critical issues confronted by state, corporate and community actors in terms of framing migrant worker issues, and the nature of existing interactions between these stakeholders in terms of managing migrant workers in each of the three regions. Cross-regional comparisons were also considered in this research. Through interviewing key participants, it was found that subtle differences exist in regional government actors' response to the impacts of migration through their policy formation. It was also noted that interactions between the three levels vary substantially cross the three regions, and the tendency for stronger relationships to be forged between government and corporate actors where economic imperatives are concerned, with weaker and more ad hoc connections made between stakeholders across the three levels where social policy is concerned. It was concluded that any migration policy cannot be viewed as stand-alone, since empirical analysis across the three regions demonstrate the intertwining dimensions of linking migration policy with social and employment concerns

    Developing a 'road map' to facilitate employers' role in engaging with the skills development agenda

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    The UK construction skills shortage problem remains highly topical. Despite academic research and industrial efforts to mitigate the problem, construction employers face increasing pressure to get the skilled workforce necessary to fulfil rising workloads in the UK. There is limited success in the recruitment of nontraditional labour, shift towards prefabrication and the employment of migrant labour. Following the Leitch (2006) report, employers will be expected to become more proactive in engaging with the skills development agenda in the future. Yet, the extant literature remains fairly opaque on how employers can achieve this effectively. The research project outlined in this paper attempts to examine the processes involved in engaging employers in the skills development agenda, with a view to develop a decision-support tool (a ‘road-map’) for employers in this respect. The proposed research approach is outlined in this paper, which includes mapping out of current policies and initiatives that are geared towards construction skills development, case studies to explore how employers are presently engaging in skills development and action research to test the prototype tool

    Construction skills development in the UK : transitioning between the formal and informal

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    Research reported here is part of a wider study that seeks to examine the practices involved in encouraging and enabling employers to engage with the skills development agenda. A series of exploratory interviews and ethnographic observations reveal potential disconnections between skills policies at the governmental level and what actually happens in employer practices regarding skills development. On the one hand, the formal education and training system focuses on such targets as the attainment of narrowly-defined occupational standards, levels of competence, and quantitative performance measures like completion rates. On the other hand, the socialised concept of skills development takes place informally at the workplace through on-the-job training and mentoring relationships between senior and junior employees. Both the formal and informal systems appear to co-exist alongside each other, although tensions are mounting in terms of confidence that employers and the wider industry place on the efficacy of the formal system

    Formal and informal systems of VET: implications for employee involvement

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    The age-old conundrum embodied in the skills challenge is this: if it is accepted that skills are a good thing, then why is it that the uptake of skills development practices, through, for example, training and lifelong learning agenda, are not widespread? In voluntarist Britain, policy- makers, researchers, educationalists and even practitioners have been grappling for a long time with low training participation, and the low-skills, low-wage route that British industry has adopted. Problems associated with this include claims of a productivity gap that exists between the UK and major competitors and the perpetuation of short-termism that has led to the restriction of capacity development. Scholars offering a panacea to the challenge have often called for the strengthening of institutions, usually supporting such exhortations with evidence from comparative studies that other countries are better in the regulation of both internal and external labour markets. Notwithstanding the necessity to strengthen institutions and to develop a comprehensive vocational education and training (VET) system that respects social partnership and industrial democracy and genuinely involves the employee voice, there is also a need to account for the multi-layered nature that currently exists in formal and informal guises

    Recognising and rewarding innovation in construction: exploring disconnections in managerial discourse

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    The construction industry has often been considered a 'low innovation' sector. This research seeks to understand more deeply the manifestation of innovation at the construction workplace and raises questions as to whether there is really a dearth of innovative practices in construction. A series of 20 interviews were undertaken with manager and workers across a typical construction supply chain. The interviews were supplemented by participant observations in a single case organisation. The inquiry process sought the stakeholders’ interpretation of what innovation meant for them in construction, and explored the implications ‘innovation’ had on practice. The findings revealed the existence of a (misguided) sense of orthodoxy in the way the extant literature defined the concept of innovation. Accepted measures of innovation mean very little for workers who have to deal with operational realities of making the construction project work. Managerial interviews have highlighted their tendency for offering idealised accounts of what innovation means to the business and how innovation works. Conversely, the differing explanations by the workers show a distinct lack of recognition and reward for innovative practices in the industry. This research makes the case for a need to broaden the way innovation is conceptualised and measured
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