This research aimed at developing a framework for measuring and enhancing the
learning capability of construction contractors. Construction contractors' learning
relates to how they imbibe knowledge and other stimuli from their internal and
external business environments and how the acquired knowledge is applied to meet
the challenges of current and future business environments.
The general study of learning antecedents for construction contractors has mainly
focused on training of employees. Equally, a lack of a methodology for measuring the
learning capability of a company has been one of the main problems for implementing
organisational learning within companies. However, this research is the first attempt
to provide the antecedents for learning of construction contractors as entities. The
outcome of which is a learning framework for auditing learning capabilities of
construction contractors as one of the significant contribution to this research. The
learning framework should provide construction executives with the means for
measuring the extent to which learning takes place in their corporate establishments.
This should promote proactive interventions for continuous improvement of their
The developed learning framework maps ten core learning processes i.e. learning
dimensions that influence the learning of construction contractors and addresses
improvement through: individual learning; the use of teams; internal sharing of
knowledge; learning from reviews; integrating work and learning; undertaking
investigations within or with others; learning from or with others; continuous renewal
of business processes; search for new development; and acquiring a capability to
identify and respond to future possible business processes. Parallel to these learning
dimensions, this research has identified eight factors that are required if a construction
contractor is to achieve double loop or generative learning. The factors are aimed at providing senior construction executives with proactive intervention strategies to
overcome specific barriers to learning within their own organisations. Such factors
include: objective progress on learning demonstrated through the measurement of
business processes; climate of openness; committed leadership to learning; rewarding
innovations; shared vision; systems thinking; personal mastery; and mental modelling.
Traditionally, measures of performance have heavily relied on financial indictors.
However, such measures often only indicate the level of performance rather than
explain the contributing factors. Consequently, the learning framework should
provide a composite measure to traditional financial measures for construction
contractors for assessment of their learning capabilities. The objective of the
developed learning framework is to encourage a proactive stance when addressing
improvement of construction contractors for the purpose of meeting the challenges of
the evolving business environment.
The link between construction contractors' learning and the factors that set the
condition for double loop or generative learning were found to exhibit satisfactory
levels of reliability and validity. Equally, construction contractors' learning increased
with performance in terms of average profit and turnover per employee from the
The learning mechanisms by which construction contractors address their
improvement by imbibing knowledge from their internal and external business
environments were identified and ranked according to the various learning
dimensions. The relationships between application of learning mechanisms were
examined in order to enriched the understanding of learning practices of large and
medium construction contractors.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.