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Corporate Strategy in Construction: Understanding Today's Theory and Practice

Corporate Strategy in Construction: Understanding Today's Theory and Practice

Steven McCabe

ISBN: 978-1-444-31876-0

Jan 2010, Wiley-Blackwell

336 pages



This book draws together the main elements of strategic management theory and considers their relevance to contemporary practice in construction. It helps students understand what corporate strategy involves and how it is possible to develop a proactive approach to the management of key organisational resources that are essential to attain objectives.

Understanding of the importance of strategic management has developed rapidly in the past decade. Recent economic events have shown that all organisations must continually reassess their approach to achieving intended objectives, especially improvement in customer focus. The construction industry is no different. Construction employers require graduates who are competent in understanding the basis of strategic management, the range of techniques that will enable the organisation to identify opportunities and threats and respond to rapid change.

This book provides an overview of the context in which construction projects are carried out, and the potential methods that exist to conduct strategic analysis and decision-making. By analysing case studies, Corporate Strategy in Construction: Understanding today's theory & practice demonstrates how vital lessons can be learnt from other industries by benchmarking practices and developing alternative ways of delivering value to clients.

A key message of the book is that construction organisations can, with a better appreciation of strategic management, increase their potential to innovate and create sustainable competitive advantage.



About the Author



Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Trying to predict the future – a task fraught with risk

1.2 A journey towards strategy: art or science?

1.3 Strategy, a problem of expectation?

1.4 The dilemmas of a formal definition of strategy

1.5 The context of construction – a truly unique industry?

1.6 Developing an understanding of who ‘consumes’ construction

1.7 The structure of this book

Chapter 2 Strategic management theory: its origins, development and relevance to contemporary organisations

2.1 Objectives of this chapter

2.2 Early origins

2.3 The rise and rise of strategy as a corporate tool

2.4 So what are the main concepts of strategy – back to the problems of definition?

2.5 Mintzberg’s ‘Five Ps’ conceptualisation of strategy

2.6 The hierarchy of strategy

2.7 Terms associated with strategy

2.8 Attaining success: the importance of analysis, development and implementation

2.9 The three essentials of strategic decision-making

2.10 Lynch’s text of ‘good’ strategy

2.11 What will really work? An exploration of major theoretical perspectives

2.12 The relevance of strategic theory and some considerations of Whittington’s generic perspective

2.13 Conclusion

Chapter 3 A short socio-historical analysis of the development of the British construction industry

3.1 Objectives of this chapter

3.2 Early origins – the beginnings of civilisation

3.3 The Roman influence

3.4 Medieval organisation – the emergence of the guild system

3.5 The malign influence of merchants

3.6 The end of artisans and the emergence of alternative arrangements

3.7 Contracting and its long-term effects on people, processes and production

3.8 The rise and fall of trade unionism in construction

3.9 The National Building Strike and its long-term consequences

3.10 Time for change?

3.11 Government intervention – the impact of the ‘Latham’ and Rethinking Construction reports

3.12 So where is construction currently and what is next?

3.13 Conclusion

Chapter 4 Understanding the environment – markets and competition

4.1 Objectives of this chapter

4.2 Appreciating the context of construction

4.3 How are markets considered?

4.4 Appreciating the dynamics of markets and competition

4.5 Overall analysis of the environment

4.6 What are the dynamics of competition? 71

4.7 Analysing competitive behaviour – a consideration of adaptive strategy

4.8 How do markets grow?

4.9 Competitive advantage

4.10 Conclusion

Chapter 5 Strategy and its connection with consumers and customers – the keys to success

5.1 Objectives of this chapter

5.2 Defining consumers and customers

5.3 Customers – who are they and what do they want?

5.4 The use of ‘customer-profiling’

5.5 Customer–competitor matrix

5.6 Importance–performance analysis

5.7 Market segmentation

5.8 Revisiting Miles and Snow’s analytical model of competitive behaviour

5.9 Using the BCG matrix to analyse customers

5.10 The McKinsey Directional Policy Matrix

5.11 Considering the value of these matrices

5.12 Making connections with consumers – the importance of communication and feedback

5.13 The emergence of the concept of customer as ‘king’ – what the Japanese taught the west and how it has been developed

5.14 Conclusion

Chapter 6 Developing and maintaining organisational resources – the basis for delivering strategy

6.1 Objectives of this chapter

6.2 Resource usage – an overview

6.3 A contemporary consideration of how organisations use resources

6.4 The objective of adding value to resources

6.5 How resources are valued – applying ‘economic rent’

6.6 How organisations develop capability based on their resources –an appreciation of the importance of the resource-based perspective (RBV)

6.7 Resources and their place in the structure

6.8 Using VRIO framework to decide on resource application

6.9 The importance of resources, distinctive capability and core competences

6.10 Developing an understanding of people, productive capability and finance

6.11 Using integration as a tactic to obtain resources

6.12 Conclusion

Chapter 7 ‘Organisation[al] matters’ – a strategic perspective of the importance of how to manage people

7.1 Objectives of this chapter – what is organisation?

7.2 Organisation and structure – a consideration of contemporary changes in perception

7.3 Structure, processes and relationships – virtuous combinations?

7.4 Purpose and organisation

7.5 Setting objectives – the importance of mission

7.6 Organisational configuration

7.7 Leadership

7.8 Getting the best from people – the ‘secret’ of really successful organisations

7.9 The importance of organisational culture

7.10 Conclusion

Chapter 8 Knowledge, innovation and technology – the ‘keys’ to the future

8.1 Objectives of this chapter

8.2 Knowing and doing – linking them together to ensure appropriate action

8.3 The context of construction

8.4 Defining knowledge

8.5 Learning as a way of organisational life

8.6 What is innovation?

8.7 The importance of technology

8.8 Conclusion

Chapter 9 Change – the only constant in strategy

9.1 Objectives of this chapter

9.2 The theoretical basis of change management

9.3 Strategic change in organisations – deriving an understanding of what is involved

9.4 Types of strategic change

9.5 The causes of change

9.6 How to manage change

9.7 A change for the better? Challenging the assumptions of the planned approach

9.8 Emergent models of change

9.9 The role of managers in change

9.10 Strategic leadership approaches

9.11 Changing the way things are really done

9.12 Communicating change

9.13 Potential problems with change

9.14 Conclusion

Chapter 10 Considering the development of strategic options

10.1 Objectives of this chapter

10.2 What to do?

10.3 The importance of resources in making choice

10.4 Using the value chain to consider resources

10.5 Andrews and SWOT

10.6 The use of a resource-based view

10.7 The importance of core competences

10.8 Using the six criteria to judge strategy

10.9 The ADL Matrix

10.10 Who makes the decision?

10.11 Using scenarios

10.12 The importance of context

10.13 Conclusion

Chapter 11 Implementing the strategy – issues, dilemmas and delivery of strategic outcomes

11.1 Objectives of this chapter 223

11.2 Getting to the end – the difference between ‘intended’ and ‘realised’ strategy

11.3 The influence of purpose and dynamics on resources used

11.4 Planning for action

11.5 Making it happen – the influence of Kaplan and Norton

11.6 Communication and approaches

11.7 Strategic control

11.8 Dealing with failure

11.9 How to recover

11.10 Retrenchment strategies

11.11 Turnaround strategies

11.12 Managing in recession and decline

11.13 What about turbulent markets?

11.14 A general review of how to ensure that strategy remains coherent

11.15 Conclusion

Chapter 12 Turning theory into practice – some empirical examples of strategy in construction organisations

12.1 Introduction to this chapter

12.2 An overview of the contributions of strategic practice

12.3 Continual improvement in Thomas Vale as a way of life

12.4 Past, present and future – survival strategies in the face of a global downturn in construction work

12.5 ‘Specialisation vs generalisation in the construction industry –a strategic overview’: Adonis construction

12.6 Interserve

12.7 Innovation and creativity in Morgan Ashurst

12.8 As safe as houses – the importance of the NHBC

12.9 Strategic management and change in construction: ‘The Argent Perspective’

12.10 Wates Construction

12.11 Strategic collaborative framework partnerships in Birmingham Urban Design

12.12 Is it possible for a small quantity surveying consultancy to survive and thrive in an economic crisis?

12.13 Strategic management in a micro-organisation


Further Reading



“This new text is a valiant effort by McCabe to present the main theories of corporate strategy and discuss their application to the construction industry—all in 11 chapters (plus a chapter of corporate case examples).”  (Construction Management and Economics, 1January 2012)


· An up-to-date treatment of the theoretical concepts of strategy and change management and their impact on construction organisations

· Reviews recent developments - knowledge management, benchmarking, information technology - showing how construction organisations have adapted their practices

· focuses on principles and strategy, rather than process, system and control