Culture in the Business/ Construction Industry
“An organization’s culture is comprised of the set of values, beliefs, assumptions, principles, myths, legends, and norms that define how people think, decide, and perform” (Understanding Organizational Culture 2001, p.1). Schein (1985, p. 6) defines culture as;
“The pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that has worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel about these problems.”
Culture is an important element for organizational success when considering the health, safety, and welfare of those who work in the construction industry (Understanding Organizational Culture 2001, p.1). According to the report on Understanding Organizational Culture (2001), a cultural element must be integrated into the four organizational components which include the physical factors of an organization. These include an organization’s infrastructure which incorporates organizational systems and processes, individual and organizational behavior, and the organization’s culture. The article, Understanding Organizational Culture (2001) identifies culture as those individual and organizational values, beliefs, norms, and related assumptions which distinguish and identify individuals working for organizations and those organizations.
According to Brockmann and Birkholz (1999), culture in the construction industry is embedded in the organic structure of an organization with distinguishable levels of management. Brockmann and Birkholz (1999) identify culture in the construction industry in two categories, i.e. head culture and project culture. Though Brockmann and Birkholz (1999) contend that both cultures are not well defined in the construction industry in addition to the lack of knowledge on company philosophy in projects, yet Hofstede (1998) sees culture as a result-oriented undertaking. Hofstede (1998) asserts that culture takes various dimensions in the construction industry in terms of process against result orientation, organizational against professional dimensions, weak against strong where costs are deemed to be unimportant, meetings not starting on time, and practical joking about company works. According to Hofstede (1998), culture is a vital component that must be embraced in an organization for the safety, health, and welfare of workers in the construction industry.
Culture and expectations in terms of H, S, & W in projects
Culture in terms of health, safety, and welfare in the construction industry is vital based on the challenges faced by workers in that field. Injuries are common occurrences in the construction industry when compared to other industries. This is in addition to the conditions under which construction work takes place. These conditions are adverse to the health and safety of workers. Construction work majorly takes place outdoors with changing conditions where workers in most cases have to mingle constantly with different workers. In addition, construction work is characterized by the constant movement of workers from one location to another. Accordingly, there has to be a strategic framework for incorporating culture in housing, healthcare, and the welfare of employees. These values need not only be on individual levels but organization-wise. “Most of the accidents show that the construction industry is unique, involved with human behavior, different construction sites, the difficulties of works, unsafe safety culture, dangerous machinery and equipment, and involvement with many procedures” (Misnan, Skudai, Mohammed, & Utm (2007, p.1).
In addition, “Studies show that an accident and injury at the worksite are the result of workers’ behavior, work practices or behavior and work culture” (Misnan, Skudai, Mohammed, & Utm 2007, p.1). The report further affirms that:
“Safety and health culture are more related to workers’ safety practices” (Misnan, Skudai, Mohammed, and Utm 2007, p.1).
Therefore the welfare, safety, and housing of workers in the construction industry play a vital role in instilling organizational and individual culture. This assessment and inculcation within the individual and the organization provide an excellent cultural fit making employees more flexible to different construction environments, and improving the relationship between employees and the management. Organizations can only thrive on success and business executives can only achieve organizational goals and objectives by instilling a culture in the workers when considering their housing, safety, and welfare. According to Coffey (2010), culture is a strong element in business organizations that manifests itself from the way employees conduct their business and the relationships between managers and employees. Therefore when a strong culture is integrated into an organizational setting, the language workers speak, daily work practices, and how workers relate with each other indicates the behavior of employees within those organizations. Research indicates business executives can only integrate culture in housing, health, and welfare of workers through a learning process. This could be based on the reward people get when a business organization seems to appreciate employees’ roles in achieving its goals and objectives. This reward can be in the form of incorporating the element of culture in the construction industry by taking into account the nature of work in that industry.
Culture is a strong driving force in the construction industry. Like all other industries, business executives find it of necessity to incorporate it when considering the health, safety, and welfare of workers who operate in different environments. Several examples of cultural integration in the construction industry abound. Mandell (2005) provides a wealth of examples on the need to incorporate culture when considering the health, safety, and welfare of employees in the construction industry. A case in point is the performing arts center. Mandell (2005, p.1) critically asserts that “Lincoln Center was the first such campus to demonstrate the power of culture as urban renewal, and it has been imitated by cities across the nation, to varying effect”. In addition to this, McDonald and Hrymak (2005) cite various examples of fatal cases of injury in the construction industry. McDonald and Hrymak (2005) note that injuries are in the range of hundreds of thousands in America and various European countries. In addition, the health of workers is of paramount importance considering the type of work they get involved in within this industry.
About the above discussion, it is evident that culture which is the driving force behind successful organizations is an element that can be incorporated both in an individual and the organization. According to the article, there is a need for organizations to integrate culture when considering housing, safety, and welfare in the construction industry. Reported findings of severe injuries and at times deaths resulting from the type of work done in the construction industry bear evidence on the need for business executives to initiate and integrate the important element of culture in organizations and individuals. Culture can not be seen but becomes evident from the way workers interact in their daily chores and the attachment they develop towards an organization that gives them the feeling of belonging.
Brockmann, C. Birkholz, A., 1999. Industry Culture in Construction and Manufacturing [online]. Web.
Coffey, V., 2010. Understanding Organisational Culture in the Construction Industry [online]. Web.
Hofstede, G. 1998. Masculinity and Femininity: the taboo dimension of national cul-tures, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Mandell, J., 2005. Culture and Construction: Arts [online]. Web.
McDonald & Hrymak (2005). Health and Safety Authority Safety Behaviour in the Construction Industry [online]. Web.
Misnan, M.S., Skudai, J., Mohammed, A.H., & Utm, S. J., 2007. Development of Safety Culture in the Construction Industry: A Strategic Framework [online]. Web.
Schein, E 1985. Organizational Culture and Leadership, San Francisco: Jossey- Bass Understanding Organizational Culture. Web.