Improving Productivity In Construction Workers

Submitted by: Matt Carpenter

Advisor: Dr. Tulio Sulbaran —  — (601) 266 6419

Date: 11/03/03


1.   Problem Statement

The construction industry is facing a large and serious problem when productivity is examined.  Construction productivity has been on a steady decline over the past two decades (Arditi & Mochtar 2000).  When this is compared to the manufacturing industry it is easy to see that the problem is only found in construction as productivity in manufacturing has been on the rise for the past twenty years (Aramvareekul 2002).  This has been a change for the two industries because “by 1988, the manufacturing sector exhibits a substantially higher output per hour-worked than construction (Aramvareekul 2003 p. 1-1).” Research has also shown that this decline is limited to the United States construction industry, “productivity increased in all countries except the US (Banik 1999 p.166).”  This problem has not gone unnoticed to the construction companies, “contractors have been very concerned with how to increase the productivity of the workers engaged in this major industry (Maloney & McFillen 1988).”  Even with this concern, productivity has not increased over the last decade (Koehler & Lew 1992). 


Productivity is a serious issue for the construction industry, which because of it large size has a dramatic impact on the economy (Chau & Walker 1988).  The construction industry in 1997 accounted for “7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and if one includes remodeling and repair work the total rises to over 10% of the GDP” as quoted by Barry in a journal by Allmon, Haas, Borcherding, and Goodrum (Allmon, Borcherding, Goodrum, & Haas 2000 p. 97).  Not only does the industry account for 7-10% of the GDP, it is also “the nation’s largest industry sector in terms of yearly dollar volume (Arditi & Mochtar 2000 p.16).”  These are very significant facts and allows for construction to be seen as a vital part of the United States economy.  Decreasing productivity can be seen as a disease that is crippling the construction industry and the GDP (Arditi & Mochtar 2000).  The construction industry is one that thrives on competition, thus places more importance on the productivity of its workers (Lew 1991).  A recent survey found that labor has one of the “highest opportunities for productivity improvement in comparison to materials, construction techniques, regulations and equipment (Banik 1999 p.175).”  By using common sense one can see that improving productivity which would reduce time, also known in construction as money (Ahmed, Azhar, Kappagantula & Gollapudi 2003).  Due to the competitiveness, large size and influential ability, the construction company needs to take a serious look at the productivity of its workers.