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Construction Management in Practice - Case Study

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 4014 words Published: 27th Oct 2021

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To be able to explore and source the benefits to working in diverse and inclusive environments in the work place by providing adequate research to both sides of the argument, concluding with weighted recommendation. Following on from this problem will be proposed or counted with, as change is something people are reluctant to adapt to. Therefore, what solutions can be sourced or alternative approaches provided to counter act these issues. Finally, the case study will explore the reasoning behind human resources department within a company and their pivotal role in not only the company's development but its employees too.

Aims & Objectives

LO1 – Analyse and evaluate the impact of managing teams and individuals and understand the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workforce.

LO2 – Demonstrate intellectual flexibility and the capacity to address multi-­faced, open-­minded construction management problems and evaluate alternative approaches, which could achieve solutions.

LO3 – Synthesise, appraise and critically evaluate human resource concepts and practices for leadership, creativity and interpersonal development.

LO1 Analyse and evaluate the impact of managing teams and individuals

The availability on evidence on the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workplace in organisations is inconclusive and mixed due to its beneficial and negative outcomes having equal weight in the discussion. The majority of the literature seems to focus on private firms; who have reaped the rewards from equality and diversity. However, not much of the literature sourced discussed the impact that proper and precise management of teams and individuals could do to minimise the negative outcomes that a diverse workplace could potentially develop.

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The systematic review carried out by Urwin et al (2013, p.15,19) finds that the 'evidence on workplace diversity impacts is predominantly qualitative' meaning of case study nature. 'Evidence from case studies finds conflicting evidence of systematic business impacts of diversity from workplace studies' (Urwin et all, p.19). There is quite a lot unreliable evidence of the benefits of diversity (Wright et al, 2014, p.60; Urwin et al, 2013). Much of the available evidence is relation to correlation, but not much evidence looks at causation (Urwin et al, 2013). Eagly (2016, p.208) argue that 'awareness of the inconsistencies in the research literature is needed to foster the challenging and important task of uncovering the conditions under which demographic diversity has positive or negative effects'.

Benefits of diversity and inclusion are found to include; reduced costs, improved resourcing of talented personnel, better products and services, enhanced corporate image, improved creativity and problem solving, better decision making, innovation, greater flexibility, increased productivity, improved organisational performance and efficiency, enhanced trust in relationships, satisfaction and commitment within the workplace and improved customer relations and service delivery.

Negative outcomes of diversity are found to include; more absence from work, weaker employee attachment, more conflict, poorer in-­‐role and extra-­‐role performance, more discrimination thus leading to higher costs and losses for the organisation. (Harris, F. and McCaffer, R. 2012)

The business case for diversity is sometimes seen as distinct from the legal and moral case as it involves factors, which can improve the economic performance and competiveness of firms (Urwin et al, 2013, p.6). The business case is often referred to in terms of managing diversity, while the moral case is often expressed in terms of equal opportunities, although they are hard to fully separate as equal opportunities legislation shapes the way in which diversity is managed (Urwin et al, 2013, p.2).

There are arguments that the moral case is part of the business case (Wright et al, 2014, p.4). In addition, research finds that the 'discourse on diversity has moved away from 'equal opportunities', and is now associated with inclusiveness, with recognising, valuing and respecting differences' (Wright et al, 2014, p.4). The sourced literature describes the benefits of diversity and inclusion in two categories; external and internal.

The external benefits include 'reduced costs, improved resourcing of talented personnel, better products and services and enhanced corporate image' (Wright et al, 2014, p.4).

Internal benefits arise because a diverse workplace 'which includes a range of perspectives can improve creativity and problem-­‐solving, resulting in better decisions being made, innovation and greater flexibility' (Urwin et al, 2013, p.7; Wright et al, 2014, p.4, 28-­29; Dwertmann et al, 2016, p.1137).

In addition, using data from the 1998 UK Workplace Employee Relations Survey, equal opportunities policies were found to improve productivity, especially as the share of female and ethnic minority employees in the workplace increased, with short-­‐term negative effects in segregated workplaces (Urwin et al, 2013, p.7).

A diverse workplace promotes 'performance and efficiency; increased productivity and creativity; enhanced trust relationship, satisfaction and commitment within the workplace; improved customer relations and service delivery; and positive corporate image and reputation' (Ozbilgin & Tatli, 2011, p.1240; see also Hunt et al, 2015, p.9).

The interviews carried out by Wright et al (2014, p.25) also emphasise that diversity, inclusion and valuing and respecting difference were considered important in relation to attracting and keeping the best possible talent. Employees who feel more 'included' were felt to be more likely to stay (Wright et al, 2014, p.25). Research from the field of sociology, using data from the 1996 and 1997 National Organisations Survey found that 'diversity was significantly correlated with increased sales revenue, increased customer numbers, increased market share and increased relative profits' (Urwin et al, 2013, p.5).

On the contrary research also indicates that sometimes diversity at work has led to less favourable work outcomes, such as more absenteeism, weaker employee attachment, more conflict, poorer in-­‐role and extra-­‐role performance and more discrimination (Guillaume et al, 2013, p.123-­‐124). As a result, when diversity at work does not work, it may result in lower revenues due to missed business opportunities, higher costs in view of lower employee morale and expensive lawsuits involving employment discrimination (Guillaume et al, 2013, p.124). It is suggested that the negative effects of diversity on work outcomes may be as a result of people preferring to work with others of a similar background (Guillaume et al, 2013, p.125).

To summarise there are clearly both advantages and disadvantages to diversity in the workplace. However, from the above research it shows that the advantages can far out whey the disadvantages as long as the working environment is adequately and properly managed to ensure that the negative occurrences do not seep through. The recommendation to this would be the impact that managing team and individuals has on diversity in the workplace.

These challenges can be mitigated if an organisation makes a concerted effort to encourage a more heterogeneous environment through promoting a culture of tolerance, open communication and creating conflict management strategies to address issues that may arise. For leadership to effectively manage diversity in the workplace they need to understand their backgrounds and how their behaviour and beliefs can affect their decision-­making within a diverse environment.

Urwin et al (2013, p.27) provides the examples of prioritising communication with directors or managers frequently visiting individuals to discuss how things are going and if there are any issues. Treatment of all individuals as equals and no favouritism. Encouragement for employees to work within diverse groups or environments. To be able to recognise, and encourage employees to also recognise that one's own experience, background and culture is unique to them but potentially not unique to others. Therefore, a level of tolerance and acceptance must be in sighted within your employees so that everyone envisages the same open mindedness.

Furthermore, directors and managers of firms can implement legislation within their companies that all employees must conform to. This can be a element such as policies and practices that must be abided by as a minimal requirement to work for the company. This provided a tool in which directors and managers can utilise as a piece of legislation backed by law as a much more powerful tool to guide employees to a more acceptant workplace.

LO2 Addressing Construction Management Problems

Within a construction company during its lifetime there will be many different and difficult problems that will be encountered. Elements such as delayed material or plant to site will pose a problem to time and cost of a certain project. Internal altercations such as a senior level of staff leaving or retiring can be seen as a problem due to the need to replace such a skilled worker. Maybe there has been an accident on site that was caused by not following proper health and safety regulations. The examples can continue as the construction industry has a very wide set of parameters with plenty of variables that can go wrong at any stage. However, without the lateral, concise and educated training of effective management techniques to counter act these problems. Much of what construction companies do is make decisions when they are 'under the gun', stressed and very short for time.

Consequently, when they encounter a new problem or decision that they must make, they react with a decision that seemed to work before. With this approach it's easy to get stuck in a circle of solving the same problem over and over again. (Cooke, B. and Williams, P. 2004, p.25-­‐57). Therefore, there needs to be a more chronological approach to making decisions and solving problems within the construction industry.

Using Griffith, A. and Watson, P. et al, (2004) management methods and approach to problem solving the issues and many others that occur in construction companies today can be minimised and often eradicated following proper implementation. They described that the use of LEAN construction and BIM modelling were effective tools in which the construction industry can utilise to combat construction problems.

BIM involves the process in which digital models are created to showcase the project in its design stage but give those involved a detailed look into the future as what the building will look like and its makeup. This enables those involved in the construction company looking at a project with a client and the rest of the design team to gain a true visualisation of the end product. This gives the ability in the design stage to highlight areas that could be problematic before construction even begins. Therefore, giving the company an edge on competitors as they are able to almost predict the future on a project resulting in quality constructions made at lower costs and shorter durations expected.

BIM can work by providing a much better and unique approach to solving a complex problem in construction. For example if a problem occurred on site such as a partition being the specification or wrong size. Then this would be a huge problem on construction sites and projects today not utilising BIM. This is because the product is now delivered to site and it will take a long time before it can be replaced. The contractor has to contact the supplier to provide an alternative, which in turn all takes time. However, with BIM modelling management can provide a much quicker and effective approach to solving this problem.

If everyone is utilising the BIM platform suppliers can be contacted quicker and a replacement can be delivered as soon as possible. This is due to the fact that everyone on the project is connected by BIM. Any issues can instantly be resolved and communication lines are constantly open. It also provides the ability for suppliers and contractors to visualise the project on a computer platform which can help the suppliers and contractor get dimensions and other specifications right the first time round. But also, if there is any problems the ability to rectify them quicker is what the BIM platform allows.

This is proactive management approach rather than a reactive one that is currently adopted today. Lean ideology was initialised in the Japanese motor industry firstly. However, the method was then adopted into the construction industry as the underlying advantages of lean aim to reduce waste, achieve clients' expected value and lead to continuous improvement in the deliverables in projects. The process aims to minimise activities, which add minimal value to a project and utilise every aspect of time given in essence. The process can tackle issues such as overproduction of materials, only making what you need.

Minimising waiting/standing time on sites and defects following completion eradicating unnecessary actions that sometimes take place in construction projects. Utilising this method within your company will give a different dimension, as the company will be based on a more straight-­line approach to delivering its services. Rather than A, B to C approach, which can effect time and cost in a construction project but also within the company itself.

Furthermore, the possibility of combining both BIM and LEAN is a relatively new concept the two have only just been adopted into large-­‐scale construction companies to this present day. Upon reflection the two methodologies can work side by side to give the insight and predictability that BIM can produce with creating that visual aspect that it gives on a project with the streamlined and directional approach that LEAN concepts promote.

This would give a construction company the ability to offer clients solutions at every potential and major turning point in their quest to produce a building or renovation scheme, meaning that the company starts to build a ethos of trust and reliability within their name as well as that all important innovative approach. It would also give a high level of certainty on their tender price for example when bidding for a project, as BIM implemented with LEAN will identify anomalies within the tender package and minimise the possibility of elements being missed within the contractors costs. Therefore, giving the client more confidence within the costs given for their project.

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With a BIM platform it has the ability to bring everyone involved with project together almost immediately. If a construction problem occurs BIM gives the ability of management to be in touch with their workforce throughout a projects lifetime. This is due to the whole workforce being on the platform connected throughout. With the admission of LEAN it means that that workforce is also those that can effect and also source a solution to a problem. This is in replace of long lines of communication or levels or hierarchy that sometimes the current management structure has to go through today. The BIM incorporating LEAN can eradicate complex construction problems by uniting everyone involved with a construction project by keeping all those involved linked together.

LO3 Human Resource Concepts

Human resources management daily activities have been designed to provide for and coordinate the human resource of the organisation. This was traditionally referred to as personnel administration or personnel management. The duties in which this department undertakes are summarised as; human resource planning, recruitment and selection, Human resource development, Compensation and benefits, Health and safety, Employee and labour relations and Human resource research. The detail in the functions of the human

Its primary function is support managing directors and other managing operating members of staff in all areas of human resource matters. It fulfils a traditional staff role and acts in an advisory capacity but depending upon the organisation, the functions may be split between operating managers and human resource departments. The more subsidiary roles will take on staffing with continued training and maintenance of personnel records with healthy safety records to name but a few.

Figure 3: Types of Assistance Provided by the Human Resources Department.

Source: Bradford College Moodle.

A HR department focuses on the office culture and environment to make its impact within a company. Office culture and environment is seen to be a valuable resource for companies, a good HR department will see this dynamic as an important performance link. (Chan et al., 2004). Bowen & Ostroff (2004) suggested that the strength of the office culture and environment is an important mediator between the HR department and creative performance. They argued that a positive environment affects how individuals share their ideas and innovation, but also what standards are expected and need to be met. Therefore, creating an office culture for effectiveness

Since a HR department provides information and shapes the behaviours of the employees that they have been in the involvement of employing. This department then becomes the means of creating a certain office culture (Cabrera & Bonache, 1999). A strong HR department can develop shared meanings and collective responses from its team to be consistent with the company's strategies, which in turn creates that office culture (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004). Developing that culture that emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurship could be an important target for a HR department. Therefore, a HR department, which is consistently, and consciously aiming to alter employees' thoughts towards innovation would lead to an innovative office culture. If this was to be implemented within the company then it follows that argument of correlation between an intervening HR department promoting innovation and the direct implementation of that same innovation by the company's employees.

Lau & Ngo (1996) found that different types of office culture have different outcomes; as an example, group culture and developmental culture are related to employees' commitment to their roles rather than other types of culture. Companies with a developmental culture also have higher tolerance to change and employees are generally more satisfied. On the other hand, a HR system, which is designed to create a developmental and innovative culture, is more likely to achieve positive outcomes in innovation. To conclude, a HR department that devotes a system with an orientation around innovation playing an important role in creating the necessary culture that promotes innovation.

An office culture, in turn will be expected to have a significant and direct impact on a company's performance. A developmental culture in particular should contribute to a higher level of innovation and a better delivery of product/service. Arguably, a developmental culture serves as integral tool that is an intervening factor between the HR department and innovation. It was confirmed that organizational culture plays a mediation role between a HR department and a company's innovation outcomes. Furthermore, it was researched that a HR department, which emphasizes training, performance-­‐based reward and team development, is critical for creating a development culture (Lau & Ngo, 2004).

Although, a HR department maybe mandatory aspect of a company's make up, not all companies share the ethos of its importance to adding value to the company. Therefore, in order to create this office culture and innovative aura the concept must come from the company's directors and high-­‐level management. It must be filtered down and implemented with a concise approach into the HR department for them to carry out the further delivery to the employees within the company to understand and bare fruits to its results. So, although the HR department has such an integral role in a company, ultimately it is the actions of the company's directors, which direct its impact.

References and Bibliography

Bradford College Moodle, (2019). Figure 2: Activities of the Major Human Resource  Functions.

Bradford College Moodle, (2019). Figure 3: Types of Assistance Provided by the Human  Resources Department.

Bowen, D. E., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM-­‐firm performance linkages: the role of the strength' of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 203–221.

Cabrera, E. F., & Bonache, J. (1999). An expert HR system for aligning organizational culture and strategy. Human Resource Planning, 22(1), 51–60.

Chan, L. L. M., Shaffer, M. A., & Snape, E. (2004). In search of sustained competitive advantage: the impact of organizational culture, competitive strategy, and human resource management practices on firm performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 15(1), 17–35.

Cooke, B. and Williams, P. (2004) Construction Planning, Programming and Control. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Limited.

Dwertmann, D.J.G., Nishii, L.H., & van Knippenberg, D. (2016). Disentangling the Fairness &  Discrimination and Synergy Perspectives on Diversity Climate: Moving the Field Forward.  Journal of Management, 42:5, 1136–1168.

Eagly, A.H. (2016). When Passionate Advocates Meet Research on Diversity, Does the Honest  Broker Stand a Chance? Journal of Social Issues, 72:1, 199—222.

Griffith, A., Stephenson, P. and Watson. P. (2000) Management Systems for Construction. Harlow: Longman

Guillaume, Y.R.F., Dawson, J.F., Woods, S.A., Sacramento, C.A., West, M.A. (2013). Getting diversity at work to work: What we know and what we still don't know. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 86, 123–141

Harris, F. and McCaffer, R. (2012) Modern Construction Management. 7th ed. Oxford: Blackwell)

Hunt, V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015). Diversity Matters. McKinsey&Company.

Janakiraman, M. (2011). Inclusive Leadership: Critical for a Competitive Advantage (Berlitz Cultural Insights Series). Berlitz. Figure 1.

Lau Chung-­‐Ming, & Ngo Hang-­‐Yue, (2004). The HR System, Organisational Culture and  Product Innovation. International Business Review 13, 685–703Ozbilgin, M., & Tatli, A. (2011). Mapping out the field of equality and diversity: Rise of individualism and voluntarism. human relations, 64:9, 1229–1253.

Urwin, P., Parry, E., Dodds, I., Karuk, V., & David, A. (2013). The Business Case for Equality and Diversity: a survey of the academic literature (BIS OCCASIONAL PAPER NO. 4). Department for Business Innovation & Skills & Government Equalities Office.

Wright, A., Michielsens, E., Snijders, S., Kumarappan, L., Williamson, M., Clarke, L., & Urwin, P. (2014). Diversity in STEMM: establishing a business case. University of Westminster.


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