364 research outputs found

    Resolving the UK construction skills crisis : a critical perspective on the research and policy agenda

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    The ongoing skills crisis in the UK construction industry has constrained the productive capacity of the industry. Past research and skills policies have largely failed to develop an understanding of the realities of the skills crisis at the grassroots level. Solutions offered by researchers and policy makers have previously had little demonstrable impact in addressing skills concerns. Much of these policies seems disconnected from the realities experienced by employers and by those working in the industry. A critical perspective on resolving the skills crisis is offered. A set of mutually reinforcing research and policy initiatives are proposed, including the need for researchers and policy makers to move away from the conventionally national approach in addressing the skills problem and to engage in genuine, joined-up thinking that meets the needs of local regions. Furthermore, employers and employees are called to be reflective practitioners in their participation of the skills development agenda. Adopting these recommendations could overcome many shortcomings in research and policy that have hitherto done little to combat the construction skills crisis.Skills shortages, critical perspective, bottom-up approach, labour market, research,

    A grounded theory of the determinants of women's under-achievement in large construction companies

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    In response to impending skills shortages and changing employment patterns in recent years, the construction industry has made considerable efforts to attract more women to its professions. However, despite women's increasing representation, they exhibit high organisational and occupational mobility patterns in comparison to men. This threatens the success that women have had in addressing the gender imbalance within the industry. This research investigates the careers of men and women working for large contracting organisations, in order to establish the determinants of women's career progression, and to develop human resources management (HRM) strategies to improve their retention. A primarily qualitative methodology was employed for the research, in which career profiles were developed through interviews with 41 matched pairs of male and female employees. This allowed the gender specific determinants of careers to be established across a range of different organisations, and from informants from different vocational and life-cycle stages. The career profiles were supported by a range of other qualitative and quantitative data, which were analysed within a grounded theory framework. This led to the formulation of a set of eight interrelated theoretical models, from which a theory of women's career development was constructed. This approach provides insights into the interaction of structural, cultural and action-centred determinants, which combine to subordinate women's positions within construction organisations. The theory reflects that the construction workplace is a competitive and conflictual environment, where women are overtly and covertly discriminated against by men, who use structural systems to deliberately undermine their contribution. Women's actions in dealing with these barriers are shown to perpetuate existing work cultures. This leads to a self-fulfilling circle of women's continued under-achievement. The research provides insights into the compatibility and conflicts between personal actions and resolutions, and the HRM policy of large construction companies. It suggests that previous research efforts in attracting women to work in construction may have been misguided, as the industry's patriarchal culture must first be moderated if women are to have the opportunity to develop their careers in parity with men. "Soft" HRM initiatives are suggested as offering the potential to facilitate the cultural change necessar

    UK construction safety: a zero paradox?

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    The zero accident mantra has become embedded within the safety discourse of large UK construction organisations, but the extent to which zero-focused approaches yield reductions in accident frequency is yet to be empirically investigated. By way of an evidence-based critique, we examine the relationship between major accidents and zero approaches by drawing on Health and Safety Executive accident data over a 4 year period, together with an analysis of major contractors’ safety approaches. This reveals that working on a project subject to a zero safety policy or programme actually appears to slightly increase the likelihood of having a serious life-changing accident or fatality; a possible ‘zero paradox’. Although these findings should be treated with caution, they suggest that the apparent trend towards abandoning zero amongst some large organisations is well-founded. As such, if zero policies stymie learning whilst failing to reduce accidents, the need for a countervailing discourse is clear

    Responses to the vision zero articles

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    Responses to the vision zero article

    Integrating products and services through life : an aerospace experience

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    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution of "product-service" (P-S) strategies in the aerospace sector. Despite the widespread perception that aerospace organisations are advanced in terms of P-S integration, little is known about the realities of P-S provision in the sector. Much of the existing literature is normative and prescriptive, focusing upon what organisations aspire to do, but offers little insights into how attempts to integrate products and services occur or the challenges organisations encounter. Design/methodology/approach - This paper presents an in-depth case study of an international aerospace original equipment manufacturer, referred to as "JetCo". A total of 18 interviews were conducted with key actors involved in the operationalisation of P-S strategy within defence aerospace and civil aerospace divisions. In addition, analysis of internal company documentation was also undertaken. Findings - This paper reveals that current P-S strategy, which builds upon a long history of service offerings, initially evolved separately in each division in response to the particular markets in which they operate. However, there was evidence of a corporate-wide strategy for P-S provision being developed across divisions to improve co-ordination. This was founded on the recognition that P-S delivery requires the development of a stronger customer orientation, better knowledge and information management strategies and the engagement of employees. A key challenge concerned integrating the product and service parts of the business to ensure consistent delivery of a seamless value offering to customers. Originality/value - The paper offers fresh empirical evidence into the development of P-S in an organisation drawn from a sector often flagged as an exemplar of P-S provision, and provides insights into the complex realities of P-S implementation and delivery. Notably, it highlights the challenge of attempting to embed an organisation-wide "service culture" in pursuit of integrated P-S delivery, and questions the nostrums and overly simplistic models which pervade the current solutions discourse. Aerospace industry After sales service Product life cycle Product management

    Coming out and staying in industry: How sexual orientation and gender identity matters in construction employment

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    Over the last three years the New Civil Engineer, Architects’ Journal and Construction News have conducted a survey investigating the experiences of LGBT workers in the sector. The surveys reveal that homophobia is commonplace in the construction industry, with many gay men and women encountering homophobic comments in the workplace and few feeling that they could be open about their sexuality in the workplace (Ramchurn, 2015a; 2015b). Furthermore, respondents had little faith that their managers would handle such issues effectively. In this literature review paper we explore the theoretical and empirical explanations for the apparent institutionally homophobic situation of the sector. A key concern is what are the experiences of LGBT people and in what ways does gender/sexual identity present challenges in working lives? The results reveal the importance of sexuality in the reproduction of social relations in construction, the nature of sexualised banter and physical harassment of LGBT workers and the effects that this has on equality of opportunity. The cultural landscape represents a toxic environment for those who do not conform to the white, male, heterosexual stereotype of the construction worker and the homosocial relations that surround it. Furthermore, the review highlights how research has evolved to now present a critical perspective on how gender and sexualities are performed in organizational contexts (Rumens, 2013). The results presented set the agenda for empirical explorations of the experiences of workers. The main contribution of the paper is that it begins to unpack the institutional landscape that sustains the status quo and which must be challenged if more inclusive practices are to take hold within the sector

    Disaster risk reduction and 'built-in' resilience: towards overarching principles for construction practice

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    The emerging emphasis on disaster risk reduction has broadened the range of experts whose knowledge must be garnered to resolve complex socio-technical challenges. This paper examines the role and position of the construction sector for addressing these concerns. Specifically, it examines the recursive nature of practices within the built environment, which can be seen as deeply ingraining fragmented approaches to the development process. These, in turn, render the industry a difficult arena within which to enact structural and cultural change. Based on a wide body of literature on resiliency a set of overarching principles are proffered to help inform efforts to overcome some of the barriers to creating a more resilient built environment. It is argued that these principles offer a point of departure for embedding resilience considerations at both project and institutional levels, although real change would demand challenging some of the conventions that currently underpin construction development

    Other people’s homes as sites of uncertainty: ways of knowing and being safe

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    The home visit—when professionals work in service users' homes—is a growing phenomenon. It changes the configuration of home—both for home living and for those who go to work in other people's homes. In this paper we advance recent discussions of the emotional and political geographies of home through a focus on the home visit worker and her or his experience of other people's homes as sites of uncertainty. For such workers the home visit is played out as an interface between the private and intimate and the regulatory occupational safety and health frameworks of policy and corporate interests. It disrupts existing academic definitions of home and defines the regulatory interests of institutions. An examination of the home visit, we propose, has implications for theories of home and the search for certainties that is embedded in regulatory guidelines

    Gender in the UK Architectural Profession:(re)producing and challenging hegemonic masculinity

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    The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.Architecture represents a creative, high profile and influential profession, and yet remains under-theorised from a gender perspective. This article examines how gender is (re)produced in architecture, a profession that remains strangely under-researched given its status and position. The empirical work advances the theoretical concept of hegemonic masculinity via an analysis of gendered working practices and the agency of individuals through resistance and complicity with these norms. It reveals how architectural practice relies on long working hours, homosocial behaviour and creative control. However, whereas women perform their gender in ways which reproduce such gendered norms, white, heterosexual, middle class men can transgress them to challenge aspects of practice culture. This has significant implications for understanding the ways in which hegemonic masculinities are reproduced within creative workplaces

    Reconceptualizing the service paradox in engineering companies : is HR a missing link?

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    Many global engineering organizations have gradually shifted away from the provision of tangible products toward the provision of high-value-combined product-service solutions. This business paradigm is purported to represent a key strategic opportunity for such firms, and has attracted the attention of practitioners, consultants, and researchers. However, it has also been recognized that many firms fail to generate increased financial returns, the so-called the 'service paradox.' Despite an emerging international research literature which alludes to cultural and human resource challenges, few studies have explicitly explored such issues from a human resource (HR) perspective. Informed by two in-depth case studies of global engineering organizations in the U. K., this paper examines the HR challenges and reveals the complex realities of enacting product-service (PS) strategies in practice. It reveals that even where services have proved profitable, firms may still encounter various HR challenges, and struggle to fully exploit their service strategies. Addressing such challenges may represent a key enabler in delivering integrated product-services in organizations attempting to mesh distinctive engineering and service paradigms
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