GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Implementing Six Sigma Methodology in the Construction Industry: Barriers and Challenges from Three Empirical Case Studies
Paper Proposal Text :
Purpose - This paper has investigated the problems faced by a major trans-national organisation in terms of the six sigma process improvement method. It presents a comparative study of the framework, criteria and criterion weighting of three case studies within an airport construction project in Qatar, including the factors associated with the lack of six sigma process improvement projects being generated within the construction industry.

Design / Methodology/Approach - Although the six sigma approach has been well documented within manufacturing and the service sector, the associated research in the construction sector has received little attention in comparison to the manufacturing and services industries. The relevant literature has not sufficiently and empirically addressed the limitations of the six sigma approach, as there has been reluctance by major construction organisations to adopt innovative quality frameworks.

Findings - The conclusion that can be drawn from the existing literature is that there is not sufficient empirical data to support the various claims about the success rate of six sigma. The literature appears on the whole to be descriptive with many of the studies on six sigma in Western settings within well established management cultures.

Various themes that have emerged, suggest that it is difficult to improve quality and implement six sigma within the construction industry in Qatar:
• The literature has tended to investigate the improvement approaches that are successful in minimising the construction delays and rework,
• Construction stakeholders are reluctant to cooperate and embrace cross boundary continuous improvement methodologies and there is a high level of conflicting views.
• The diverse nature of the stakeholders from different organisations, each with alternative perspectives, management preferences, and different cultures which is required to collectively work together, is significantly impacting performance of groups or teams implementing six sigma.
• The nature of construction significantly impacts the approach of six sigma due to the characteristics of construction projects that are repeatedly large, labour demanding, and infrequently situated in the same locality; many stakeholders are involved in the construction; lack of non-standardisation which is not experienced within the manufacturing and service sector; lack of a construction contractual legislative framework that binds and details stakeholders within construction industry to employ quality reductionist or holistic methods.

What seems to be under researched are the factors in six sigma that impact directly on process improvement project (PIP’s) in the construction industry and the current issues faced by the construction companies working on major international construction projects in Qatar.

Practical Implications - This paper will present the early research findings from a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) conducted at Liverpool John Moores University and suggest the following observations:
1. The barriers to successful six sigma project completion from the stakeholders’ perspective whilst conducting six sigma PIP’s in the construction sector in Qatar ;
2. The ambiguity of the construction sector six sigma critical success factors within the construction sector when compared to the manufacturing and service sector.
Originality/value –The paper yields a great value to both researchers and
practitioners in the application six sigma within the construction industry, dispelling the claims of six sigma, which have been popularly reported in the manufacturing and service sector.

Keywords - Six Sigma, critical success factors, nature of construction

Paper type - Viewpoint