Example Essay on Organization Management in Construction Industry



The aim and objective of this essay is to emphasize the basic understanding of people and organization management principles as it relates to construction industries of the 21st century.

People and organization management is a fundamental factor in achieving a realistic and efficient use of resources, especially human resources. "A heavy responsibility is placed on managers and the activities of management - on the processes, systems and styles of management" Laurie J Mullins (1996)13

Construction companies are faced with difficulties of how to organize and manage resources due to complexity of project and as such have a greater effect on the projects in terms of time, cost and quality.

Every company has its own ideas about how to organize itself and its work, "an effective organization will ensure that clear line of authority exist, and that every member of the project knows what he or she must do to make the project a success" Dennis Lock (1996)11.

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Management is a description of a variety of activities carried out by those members of organizations whose role is that of a manager ie someone who has a formal responsibility for the work of one or more persons in the organization or who is accountable for specialist advisory duties in support of key management activities.

This essay will address people and organization management principles by considering various definitions of management, main approaches to organization, structure and management theories and also relationship between an individual and the organization and advantages of management theories to 21st century construction industries. "However, if action is to be effective, the theory must be adequate and appropriate to the task and to improved organization performance. It must be a good theory" Laurie J Mullins (1996)39


Management can be define as the process of planning, organizing, controlling efforts of organization members and using all organization resources to achieve stated organization goals.

According to G.A Cole (2004)7 , "management is a collection of activities involving planning, organizing, motivating and controlling". Other writers also indicate their view about the definition of management as shown below:

"To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to coordiate and to control" H.Fayol (1916)1

"Management is a social process……… the process consists of ……….planning, control, coordination and motivation" E.F.L Brech (1957)2

"Managing is an operational process initially best dissected by analyzing the managerial functions……The five essential managerial functions are : planning, organizing, staffing, directing and leading, and controlling" Knoontz and O' Donnell (1984)3

"Five area of management constitute the essence of proactive performance in our chaotic words: (1) an obsession with responsiveness to customers, (2) constant innovation in all area of the firm, (3) partnership - the wholesale participation of and gain sharing with all people connected with the organization, (4) leadership that loves change ( instead of fighting it) and instills and shares an inspiring vision, and (5) control by means of simple support systems aimed at measuring the "right stuff" for today's environment" T. Peters(1988)4

Basically, in a broad understanding considering all the above options, management is process that enables organization to set and achieve their objective by planning, organizing and controlling their resources, including gaining the commitment of their employees (motivation).


According to H. Kerzner (2006)89, "organization can be define as group of people who must coordinate their activities in other to meet organization objectives.

Organization can also be defined according to the following school of thought:

"Organizations are intricate human strategies designed to achieve certain objectives" Argyris(1960)8

"Since organizations are systems of behaviour designed to enable humans and their machines to accomplish goals, organizational form must be a joint function of human characteristics and the nature of the task environment." Simon(1976)9

"Organizations are systems of inter-dependent human beings." Pugh(1990)10

"Organization are set up to achieve purposes that individuals cannot achieve on their own. Organizations then provide a means of working with others to achieve goals……. Likely to be determined by whoever is in the best position to influence them……A key characteristic of organization is their complexity." Stewart(1994)11


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In Construction company setup, managers are expected to have adequate knowledge and skill to manage people and their characteristic behaviours, works to be done and technology involved and all external environmental factors as it affects construction industry.

"The effects of the operation of the organization within its environment are reflected in terms of the management of opportunities and risk and the successful achievement of its aims and objectives." Laurie J Mullins (1996)6

People and organization management can therefore be treated using understanding of management theories, approaches in terms of classical, human relation and systems perspectives, all of which will be critically examined in the course of this essay.

The Construction industries depend heavily on its workforce, they sometimes face several challenges if its recruitment to deliver expected project at estimated cost, expected or planned time and quality. The industry can improve its performance by attracting the right people(organization to look strongly at recruitment pool and think on how people can do different job in different way), keeping the right people (acknowledging a change their culture) and satisfying customer (develop focused strategy).


There Are between six to eleven management theories and school of thought but for the purpose of this essay we will adopt the approach as explained by Laurie J Mullins (1996)39, that is analysis revolving around a framework based on four main approaches of: Classical, Human resources, Systems and Contigencies.

The figure 1.0 below indicate simply the main approaches to organization, structure and management:














Human Relations















Emphasis on purpose,

Attention to social

The integration of the

No one best design of

formal structure,

factors at work,

classical and human

organizations. Form of

heirarchy of management,

group, leadership,

relations approaches.

structure, management,

technical requirements,

the informal

Importance of the

and "success" of the

and common principles

organization, and

socio- technical system.

organization dependent

of organisation

behaviour of people

The organization within

upon a range of

its external environment.

situation variables.

Fig 1.0 the main approaches to organization, structure and management. Laurie J Mullins (1996)39

The Classical Theories

Classical theories focuses on improving the organization structure as a means of increasing efficiency, it emphasizes on the importance of the principles for the design of a logical structure of organization.

"The classical approach to management was primarily concerned with the structure and activities of formal, or official, organization. Issues such as the division of works, the establishment of a hierarchy of authority, and the span of control were seen to be of the utmost importance in the achievement of an effective organization" G.A Cole(2004)4

Manager's role in classical theory is that of planner and trainer.They are responsible to know what is expected of individual and develop a structure that works for the organization to achieve the main goal.

The Human RelationTheories

The fundamental idea behind the human relation approach to management is motivation based on a hierarchy of human needs, ranging from basic physiological needs(food, sleep) to higher psychological needs, such as self- fulfillment. This serves as a means of achieving organizational effectiveness.

"The human relations approach recognized the importance of the informal organization which will always be present within the formal structure. This informal organization will influence the motivation of employees who will view the organization for which they work through the values and attitudes of their colleagues. Their view of the organization determines their approach to work and the extent of their motivation to work well or otherwise." . Laurie J Mullins (1996)53

Construction managers are expected to have mind of motivating workers, understand the method, basic needs of the employees so that he can have maximum use of their support to enhance production.

The System Theories

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According to Laurie J Mullins (1996)55 , "the system approach attempts to reconcile the two earlier approaches and the work of the formal and the informal writers. Attention is focused on the total work organization and the interrelationships of the structure and behaviour, and the range of variables within the organization. This approach can be contrasted with a view of the organization as separate parts.

The system approach encourages managers to view the organization both as a whole and as part of a larger environment. The idea is that any part of an organization's activities affects all other parts.

The system approach is a complex social systems, responsive to a number of interdependent and important variables. The major variables in adopting system approach to organizations are; people (as individual and in group), technology (in terms of the technical requirements of work, organization structures and environment (the external conditions affecting the organization).

Construction managers should therefore focus on interrelationships, both with subsystems and between the system and the external environment. He should be able to explain the trend and articulate the vision of the organization.

The Contigency Theories

The contingency approach can be seen as an extension of the system approach, it highlights possible means of differentiating among alternative forms of organization structures and systems of the management.

"The contingency approach implies that organization theory should not seek to suggest one best way to structure or manage organizations but should provide insights into the situational and contextual factors which influences management decisions." Laurie J Mullins (1996)57

Also according to G.A Cole(2004)82, "a contingency approach build on the diagnostic qualities of the systems approach in order to determine the most appropriate organizational design and management style for a given set of circumstances. Essentially the contingency approach suggests that issue of design and the style depend on choosing what is the best combination, in the light of prevailing conditions of the following variables; the external environment, technological factors and human skill and motivation."


Critical appraisal and thorough understanding of people and organizational management theoretical concepts will enable the construction managers to be fully aware and knowledgeable about different organizational management approaches in dealing with different situations and to adopt those approaches that best suit the particular requirement of the job.

A problem relating to structure, the ideas of the classical writers or contingency theory may be adopted. When there is problem relating to personnel management, ideas from the human relations theorists might be valuable. If the problem is environmental, the systems approach might prove most useful.

Generally, the knowledge and understanding of management theory will help the construction manager in tackling the complexities of people and organizational management of the 21st century.

However, no single approach to organization and management that can provide all the answers but the comparative study of different theoretical approaches will yield benefits and strategically position the manager in facing the people and organizational management challenges of the industry.


Since any organization is comprised of individuals, individuals then become the unit of analysis in organization's principles and theories. Individuals behave in different ways according to their background, knowledge, education and psychosocial factors. The knowledge and understanding of the individual behaviors, the behavioral patterns and personal development is therefore crucial to the construction manager amidst the complexities of construction organizations.

Construction managers need to be aware of factors that govern individual behavior, recognize individual potential and harness it to achieve the organizational goals and to understand how the individual behaviors affects the general organization's culture.

Part 2


I have discovered through reading series of management textbooks and journals, past work experience and academic teachings that the practice and application of management skills and competencies is the panacea to management and organizational problems facing the construction industry given the complexities and the dynamic environment.

Due to my technical training and work experience in a construction company, I have developed some of these management skills and competencies. Some were acquired by management training, some inculcated through organizational culture and some merely by intuition. Some of this competencies are, teamwork, leadership skill, organizational ability, interpersonal skills, decision making, managing change, drive for achievement, creative problem solving and analysis, negotiating skills, managing conflicts and listening skills.

However, there are management skills and values that I still need to acquire or develop further during the course of my studies as a project manager. These include organizational ability, strategic planning, self management and prioritizing, information collection and analysis, good communication skills and resource management.

Before now, I have always taken organizational values, adequate planning and self management, and prioritizing for granted due to management ignorance, but having learnt and discovered that they are very important for a successful project manager, I have begun to imbibe the values of effective planning, organizing and prioritizing my academic works, personal activities as scheduled and always seek a way of developing them further and further.

During my studies, I have discovered that all these skills and values are very important for any construction manager to be able to adequately plan, organize, motivate workers, make good and timely decisions, manages constant changes, manage limited resources, conflicts e.t.c., and communicate effectively within and outside the organization in order to meet the enormous challenges of the complex construction industry.

Also based on my background, all the management theories has been experienced as day to day references in attending to issues, improving output, getting result out of human resources and achieving company goal at a profitable margin and make the shareholders happy.


It is very important for a construction manager to develop good management skills and organizational competencies in order to effectively and efficiently meet the challenges of complex 21st century construction industry within the dynamic environment.

Implementation and understanding of all management theories is very important for construction manager to be able to deliver project at estimated time, within the budgeted cost and specified quality.