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postgraduate thesis: A study of institutional complexity and contractors' safety management strategies / y Chuanjing Ju (BEng., Msc, Chongqing University)

TitleA study of institutional complexity and contractors' safety management strategies / y Chuanjing Ju (BEng., Msc, Chongqing University)
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ju, C. [鞠傳靜]. (2015). A study of institutional complexity and contractors' safety management strategies / y Chuanjing Ju (BEng., Msc, Chongqing University). (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5543991
AbstractWhile prior studies have examined the influence of environmental factors (e.g. regulatory, market, and socio-cultural environment) on construction safety accidents, the explanations offered remain piecemeal and the environmental factors are largely treated as given and immutable. In reality, the external environment is dynamic and continuously evolving. Contractors are subject to regulatory, market and socio-cultural segments of environment simultaneously. However, there has to date been little apparent effort to systematically investigate: 1) what are the pressures or expectations faced by contractors that operate in the broader context? And 2) how do contractors typically adapt to these pressures and expectations? Drawing on the institutional theory, this study aims to investigate how contractors experience and respond to the complex safety demands in their surrounding institutional environment. Institutional theory is borrowed because 1) the broad definition of institutions encompasses a wide range of environmental factors; and 2) it informs the mechanisms of how organisations are shaped by and strategically respond to institutional pressures. Given that the institutional theory in safety research is still nascent, lacking well-established constructs and casual relationships, a qualitative research strategy was employed, comprising three interlinked components: archival and documentary data analysis; case study; and semi-structured interviews. At the first step, the documentary and archival data analysis was conducted to establish a holistic view of the institutional environment faced by construction companies. Based on the documentary and archival data, this study developed a concept of construction safety-defined organisational field and provided a historical overview of the control and coordination mechanisms of the field. It is found that the field has undergone four stages: early days, the embryonic stage, golden time and the transition stage. An exploratory case study at the second step aimed at exploring whether site safety practices could be interpreted from an institutional theory perspective, and if it does, how? Safety practice data were obtained from 62 open-ended interviews and project archives. The institutional perspective was proved insightful in understanding contractors’ safety practices. The findings showed that the complex institutional environment, especially the incompatible progress and safety requirements, was a key determinant of mixed site safety practices. With the insights obtained from the documentary analysis and case study, semi-structured interviews were lastly carried out to investigate: 1) the specific institutional demands imposed on contractors regarding site safety; and 2) how contractors respond to the complex institutional demands. 24 semi-structured interviews were conducted. The data analysis follows the logic of abduction. By travelling back and forth between extant institutional theory literature and empirical evidence, the research findings were gradually formed. It is found that contractors face four categories of institutional demands comprising: 1) legislations and enforcement; 2) clients’ requirements; 3) construction companies’ internal requirements; and 4) field-level voluntary safety programmes. The results also showed that site safety is guided by two intertwining logics: the prescriptive logic and the performance-based logic. These two logics work collectively to improve site safety. Five patterns of institutional complexity were identified residing in the complex institutional environment. These are: 1) inconsistent regulatory demands; 2) regulatory uncertainty and rigidity; 3) redundant institutional demands from field actors; 4) conflict between safety demands and production efficiency; and 5) disparate values and beliefs about safety and the ways to achieve safety. Contractor’s experience of institutional pressures and general safety management strategies depend on construction companies’ field positions (i.e., central and peripheral). The level of institutional complexity experienced by contractors is moderated by project structure and governance. It is found that contractors would adopt a series of strategic responses, such as concealment, buffering, imitation and influence, to cope with those five patterns of institutional complexity. This study extends the existing safety research to an institutional domain. The organisational field perspective adds a new dimension to explain safety management actions or structures of construction companies. Practical implications are also provided for policy-makers, clients and construction companies.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectConstruction industry - China - Hong Kong - Safety measures
Dept/ProgramReal Estate and Construction
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/212608

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorJu, Chuanjing-
dc.contributor.author鞠傳靜-
dc.date.accessioned2015-07-23T23:10:48Z-
dc.date.available2015-07-23T23:10:48Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationJu, C. [鞠傳靜]. (2015). A study of institutional complexity and contractors' safety management strategies / y Chuanjing Ju (BEng., Msc, Chongqing University). (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5543991-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/212608-
dc.description.abstractWhile prior studies have examined the influence of environmental factors (e.g. regulatory, market, and socio-cultural environment) on construction safety accidents, the explanations offered remain piecemeal and the environmental factors are largely treated as given and immutable. In reality, the external environment is dynamic and continuously evolving. Contractors are subject to regulatory, market and socio-cultural segments of environment simultaneously. However, there has to date been little apparent effort to systematically investigate: 1) what are the pressures or expectations faced by contractors that operate in the broader context? And 2) how do contractors typically adapt to these pressures and expectations? Drawing on the institutional theory, this study aims to investigate how contractors experience and respond to the complex safety demands in their surrounding institutional environment. Institutional theory is borrowed because 1) the broad definition of institutions encompasses a wide range of environmental factors; and 2) it informs the mechanisms of how organisations are shaped by and strategically respond to institutional pressures. Given that the institutional theory in safety research is still nascent, lacking well-established constructs and casual relationships, a qualitative research strategy was employed, comprising three interlinked components: archival and documentary data analysis; case study; and semi-structured interviews. At the first step, the documentary and archival data analysis was conducted to establish a holistic view of the institutional environment faced by construction companies. Based on the documentary and archival data, this study developed a concept of construction safety-defined organisational field and provided a historical overview of the control and coordination mechanisms of the field. It is found that the field has undergone four stages: early days, the embryonic stage, golden time and the transition stage. An exploratory case study at the second step aimed at exploring whether site safety practices could be interpreted from an institutional theory perspective, and if it does, how? Safety practice data were obtained from 62 open-ended interviews and project archives. The institutional perspective was proved insightful in understanding contractors’ safety practices. The findings showed that the complex institutional environment, especially the incompatible progress and safety requirements, was a key determinant of mixed site safety practices. With the insights obtained from the documentary analysis and case study, semi-structured interviews were lastly carried out to investigate: 1) the specific institutional demands imposed on contractors regarding site safety; and 2) how contractors respond to the complex institutional demands. 24 semi-structured interviews were conducted. The data analysis follows the logic of abduction. By travelling back and forth between extant institutional theory literature and empirical evidence, the research findings were gradually formed. It is found that contractors face four categories of institutional demands comprising: 1) legislations and enforcement; 2) clients’ requirements; 3) construction companies’ internal requirements; and 4) field-level voluntary safety programmes. The results also showed that site safety is guided by two intertwining logics: the prescriptive logic and the performance-based logic. These two logics work collectively to improve site safety. Five patterns of institutional complexity were identified residing in the complex institutional environment. These are: 1) inconsistent regulatory demands; 2) regulatory uncertainty and rigidity; 3) redundant institutional demands from field actors; 4) conflict between safety demands and production efficiency; and 5) disparate values and beliefs about safety and the ways to achieve safety. Contractor’s experience of institutional pressures and general safety management strategies depend on construction companies’ field positions (i.e., central and peripheral). The level of institutional complexity experienced by contractors is moderated by project structure and governance. It is found that contractors would adopt a series of strategic responses, such as concealment, buffering, imitation and influence, to cope with those five patterns of institutional complexity. This study extends the existing safety research to an institutional domain. The organisational field perspective adds a new dimension to explain safety management actions or structures of construction companies. Practical implications are also provided for policy-makers, clients and construction companies.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshConstruction industry - China - Hong Kong - Safety measures-
dc.titleA study of institutional complexity and contractors' safety management strategies / y Chuanjing Ju (BEng., Msc, Chongqing University)-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5543991-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineReal Estate and Construction-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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