Different motivation theories have been developed in general management to explain workers'
attitude to production. Collectively, these theories represent manufacturing workers more than
any other set of workers. Attempts made to apply these theories to construction operatives
have produced different and often confused explanations of the motives behind construction
operatives' productivity. This research approached construction operatives directly in order to
evaluate their motivation in relation to their productivity.
The research aimed at proving or disproving a conceptualised positive relationship between
construction operative motivation and productivity. Previous construction researchers assumed
that there was a positive relationship between productivity and motivation without any
empirical prove. This oversight was largely due to problems of quantifying abstract concepts
such as motivation. This obstacle needed to be removed before the relationship between
motivation and productivity could be empirically established.
A technique based on the Subjective Expected Utility Theory was developed to quantify
motivation. Productivity was measured by activity sampling. Relating them together gave a
third order polynomial relationship indicating that there is a basic motivation in every
bricklayer regardless of his working environment. The relationship also provided an empirical
prove of an earlier conceptualised optimal motivation theory.
The thesis shows that there is no significant causal relationship between motivation and work
rate; rather, motivation significantly influences the proportion of working time spent
productively. From a model of production output, motivation and skill, it was demonstrated
that skill dominates productivity in bricklaying. Motivation accounted for 2.4% of the
percentage variation in work rate and 25.3% of the percentage variation in percentage
productive time. From a sensitivity analysis of the predominance of skill, critical activities controlling production output which could form the basis of a training programme for new
bricklayers were identified.
After testing all observations and findings for validity, they were combined into a list of
propositions which form the basis of a theory of construction operative motivation. Based on
the affirmation of the optimal motivation theory in construction operatives, a new concept of
hyper-production was proposed.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.