International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Culture and organizational culture in the construction industry : a literature review Choi, Jin Ouk; Gad, Ghada M.; Shane, Jennifer S.; Strong, Kelly C.


The effectiveness and competitive advantage of an organization/project can be enhanced when its members possess an understanding, respect, acceptance, and capacity to manage cross-cultural differences. Ignoring or failing to manage such differences may lead to many problems in the project (e.g., project delays and productivity decrease). In fact, international/transnational projects involving participants from diverse political, legal, economic, and cultural backgrounds are on the rise. Hence, firms should be cross-culturally competent and capable of managing in contrasting cultural factors. However, a recent study conducted in 2013 by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) reported that one of the major concerns of construction professionals is a widespread lack of understanding of foreign cultures, ethnicities, and languages. The aim of this paper is to present a comprehensive review of the literature on cultural aspects in the construction industry so as to identify the knowledge gaps and to suggest recommendations for future research. To do so, the authors have identified and compared major studies on cultural factors. From the comparison, the authors have identified the categories that are considered the most central to understanding cultural differences; they are, “group attachment and relations,” “authority and status,” “uncertainty and rules,” “gender roles and assertiveness,” and “time and future orientation.” The authors also summarize the current research topics in culture in construction and recommend ideas for future research into culture as it pertains to a construction context.

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