Construciton management practice in civil engineering

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Chapter 1

Introduction to Management

Task 1 [ 2 marks]

Explain the five functions of management and demonstrate their importance to a large scale organisation operating in the Construction / Civil engineering or property sector in Ireland.

(Select one sector only, that is relevant to your own award programme)


Management is a way of making the most of all available resources to acquire a desired end result.It involves five functions:

* Planning

* Decision - making

* Organising

* Leading

* Controlling


Planning is the process of deciding on the company's goals and setting out the means of attaining them.

The main types of plan are:

Ø Strategic plan, a long term plan for the organisation involving the assigning of resources and ways and means of completing goals. An example of a strategic plan for an organisation operating in the construction sector would be 'to start building in the UK and be one of the the top ten construction companies in the UK within 7 years.

Ø Tactical plans are usually implemented over a shorter term to carry out certain areas of a strategic plan.Tactical plans state the resources and the time needed for certain projects. An example for a company in the construction industry 'to locate and set up an office in the UK within twelve months.

Ø Operational plans are short term and are usually for a specific event. It is used to accomplish tasks with the resources that are available to them. E.g. to hire within six months, a manager in charge of setting up the UK office.

Ø Contingency plan is to deal with a specific problem that might occur. They are developed to minimise costs implications of such unforseen problems, for example, 'a plan of action if supply of materials cannot match demand.

Decision Making:

It is the process of choosing one way of doing something from many other various ways. There are three types of decisions:

Strategic: involve completing long term goals and company aims. Top management are involved in making these decisions. Strategic decisions play a big part in the construction industry as they can be used to deal with completion from other companies.

Administrative: are used to bring about plans of action so that companies can operate to their full capabilities. These decisions can be helpful to a construction company to control the contracting of suppliers.

Operational: are concerned with decisions that are made all day every day. These are usually made by employees such as supervisors. These are useful to construction companies when records of rates have to be kept.


It is the activity that makes the plan happen. It involves identifying tasks, giving responsibility, creating systems and structures and providing all the resources needed.


Is the ability to influence people to follow a particular path or direction.


It involves monitoring performance, comparing it to the targets set and taking corrective action when required.

Financial Control: Ensures that the company operates profitably and always has money when it is needed.

Quality Control: This means that all work carried out is to the highest standards which ensure that consistency conforms to standards.

Stock Control: Companies must control the amount and value of stock and materials it has. It must ensure enough stock is held to satisfy demand and also keep the cost of holding it as low as possible.

Task 2 [8 marks]

Write notes on the following, showing the advantages and disadvantages of each:

a. The Hawthorne Studies (2 marks)

b. Bureaucracy (2 marks)

c. Quantitative Management Perspective (2 marks)

d. Contingency Management Perspective (2 marks)


(A). The Hawthorne Studies: This was a study carried out on two groups of workers using different light to compare productivity. It was found that both groups productivity increased. It was concluded that people work better together than individually.


* Gave an insight into the way people work together.

* Showed employees are not just workers but a valuable asset.


* Managers are hesitant to use behavioural concepts therefore they are not implemented.


Quantitative Management Perspective:

Chapter 2

The Organisational Environment

Task 3 [5 marks]

Discuss the ways in which an organisation can manage their external environment. Illustrate your answer in the context of a typical large scale organisation operating in the Construction, civil engineering or property sector. (Pick only one sector relevant to your award)


The external environment involves areas that are outside the control of a construction company such as a global credit crisis. It consists of four areas:

Social environment: includes cultural, geographic and demographic factors that make up society. They influence companies in supplying demand for products and have a result on standards of organisational conduct according to the certain social values in which they operate.

Technological environment:

Task 4 [5 marks]

In the current competitive environment in Ireland, demonstrate how Porter's Five Forces affect the organisations working within the Built Environment.


Porter'sfive forces are

* Rivalry among existing competitors

* Threat of substitute products and services

* Threat of new entrants

* Bargaining power of suppliers

* Bargaining power of customers

Chapter 3

Planning & Decision Making

Task 5 [3 marks]

Distinguish between the three types of planning that can be undertaken by an organisation, giving examples in industry for each.


Task 6 [7 marks]

Compare and contrast the classical and administrative models of decision making. Give examples of each in industry.


Chapter 4

Leading and Leadership

Task 7 [6 marks]

Write notes on:

a. Fielder's leadership contingency model

b. The Vroom-Yetton Jago contingency model

c. Path goal theory

Include the advantages and disadvantages of each


Task 8 [4 marks]

Discuss the need for leadership in modern-day organisations within your placement sector, take into account the current economic crisis.


Chapter 5

Organising and Controlling

Task 9 [6 marks, approximately 400 words]

A. Imagine that you are the manager of a Rapid Build, a construction company. Your project is to design and build a office building for a client; you have been given a fixed sum of money to spend, and a deadline for the completion date.

Rapid Build have developed a project management team with sufficient control mechanisms to combat any problems which may occur. But will it be successful ?

An organisation needs to monitor and adjust its work in response to the three following categories:

a. Pressure from a changing external environment;

b. Pressure from internal changes;

c. Difficulties in designing an organisation to cope with all potential needs.

There are a number of things which are quite likely to happen during the life of such a project. We have listed nine of them here. Look carefully at them, and, then classify them as a, b or c described above.

Write a, b or c next to each of the events


Identify whether

A, B or C Applies

1. The Initial Building Programme from the designers proves inaccurate. The amounts of work required turns out to be much bigger than expected.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

2. When the materials are ordered, your suppliers inform you that there is a steel shortage. Therefore, delivery of steel components will be delayed.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

3. The local authorities decide they require some changes to the initial plans for the drainage work

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

4. One of your competitors goes bankrupt. You are able to recruit the best members of their project management team

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

5. The carpenters turn out to be much more productive than expected.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

6. The client now wants to enlarge the office space in the building, and is prepared to pay extra money so long as there is no change to promised completion date.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

7. After testing samples of concrete in the foundations, you find that they do not meet specifications.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

8. You lose your best site manager to another company. Due to labour shortages, there is a three month delay in finding a replacement.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

9. There is a dispute between two of your senior super-visors as to who is responsible for a particular aspect of the project.

Outline what difference this could make to the success of the project.

Chapter 5

Organising and Controlling continued

Task 10 [4 mark]

Prepare an organisation chart for your placement firm / practice. Clearly identify where you are placed in the organisational structure.

Note: If your version of word does not support Smartart, you can use text boxes and lines to construct your organisational chart or by other means you select, you may need to seek IT help from the helpdesk and or use the help facility within Microsoft Word.

Organisation Chart for:

(State Name & Type of your Organisation Here)