|Prince Antwi-Afari||Department of Construction Technology and Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, +233, Ghana|
|DeGraft Owusu-Manu||Department of Construction Technology and Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, +233, Ghana|
|Erika Pärn||Faculty of Technology Environment and Engineering, Birmingham City University, +44, United Kingdom|
|David John Edwards||Faculty of Technology Environment and Engineering, Birmingham City University, +44, United Kingdom|
Like other professions that wish to remain competitive, the quantity surveying profession (QSP) will always find ways to improve its output and systems. Despite the QSPs progress in process innovation, the profession still faces some challenges and is overwhelmed by expectations that must be addressed to improve service. The purpose of this study is to identify the expectations and challenges of quantity surveyors and the QSP. Using an in-depth literature review and quantitative research approach, questionnaires were developed and administered to innovative quantity surveying (QS) firms in Ghana. After validating variables and checking the reliability of the scale, data analysis was carried out using descriptive statistics, cross-tabulation, and a relative importance index (RII). Findings showed that the quantity surveyors expect elimination of corruption from the industry and a high standard of transparency and accountability. The surveyors also desired enhance their skills to remain competitive and be more entrepreneurial and proactive. This study creates awareness for top managers and leaders in QS firms to identify and adopt innovative solutions to address the challenges of the industry and the expectations of individual quantity surveyors. Managing the expectations of quantity surveyors and the challenges of the QSP would help the QS industry remain competitive and lucrative. This paper makes an original contribution to the field by describing the challenges the QSP faces in the construction industry and providing theoretical views on the expectations of innovators.
Challenges; Expectations; Ghana; Process innovation; Quantity surveying profession
In order to remain competitive, firms must innovate, form new knowledge, move into other novel areas and create new niches (Harun & Abdullah, 2006; Barret et al., 2007; Owusu-Manu et al., 2014). Innovation in quantity surveying (QS) is defined as the management of knowledge and the capturing of project-based learning for future use (Hardie et al., 2005).
Throughout extant literature, the quality surveying profession (QSP) is seen as supporting innovation (Hardie et al., 2005), adapting and making changes to work output by adopting technologies, innovating management and monitoring processes, providing critical solutions, and putting new ideas into practice (Blayse & Manley, 2004; Owusu-Manu et al., 2014). Nevertheless, amidst the QS industry’s efforts to innovate (Hardie et al., 2005), remain competitive and stay in business (Harun & Abdullah, 2006), the industry still faces some challenges and is overwhelmed by expectations they must meet to ensure that the QSP continues to prosper, with interest in the profession never higher (Cartlidge, 2011).
The QSP has existed for centuries, tracing its origins back to the antediluvian Egyptian civilization (Cartlidge, 2011; RICS, 2005). In the 17th century, the profession became an occupation with the advent of the first public contract (RICS, 2005). Between the 1950s and 1980s, the QSP was in its prime (Cartlidge, 2011; Ashworth et al., 2013): bills of quantities were preferred for tendering, and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) fees were liberal and unchallenged (Cartlidge, 2011).
However, the success of the QSP was not without challenges (Shafiei & Said, 2008). During the latter part of the 20th century, clients led a crusade for leaner and more cost-effective projects that could be completed on time. This placed new demands on the profession (Cartlidge, 2011). This changing landscape of the construction industry required professionals to be proactive, innovative, competitive, and adaptive to the changes in their environment. This was spearheaded by the commercial revolution and the advent of new technologies, allowing professionals to survive in a meaningful and profitable way (Smith, 2004; Ofori, 2012; Ashworth et al., 2013).
Today, quantity surveyors are more receptive, having adjusted to new processes, cultivated new knowledge, developed new niches, and adopted new technologies. Their services are being sought in the building market economy and other fields, such as the oil and gas industries, petrochemical, manufacturing, aeronautical, rail networks, telecommunications, and power networks (Blayse & Manley, 2004; Smith, 2004; Cartlidge, 2006; Harun & Abdullah, 2006; Barrett et al., 2007; Owusu-Manu et al., 2014). The profession has changed from its original tasks of building quantification and bills of quantities preparation to more contemporary ones. These include facilities management, commercial management, development management, program management, value management, risk management, and cost advice (Goyal, 1991; Owusu-Manu et al., 2014).
Throughout literature, quantity surveyors appear as experts in process innovation (Smith, 2004; Hardie et al., 2005; Musa et al., 2010). Process innovation is the introduction of new elements, production measures, management methods, and skills into an organization’s production or service operations. The aim of process innovation is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the internal organization processes, facilitating the production and delivery of goods or services to customers in order to achieve lower costs and higher product quality (Reichstein & Salter, 2006; Piening & Salge, 2015).
Despite the QSP’s survival of past industry changes, the profession is not immune to threats in its operating environment (Shafiei & Said, 2008). New changes to QS practice include changes in procurement practices and clients’ demands, advances in information and communications technology, the RICS Black Book and new rules of management, and building information modeling (BIM) (Smith, 2004; Ashworth et al., 2013). A study conducted by Olatunji et al. (2010) reported that BIM presents a major challenge to the conventional service of the QSP and may redefine the content and professional boundaries of the QS practice (see also Ashworth et al., 2013). Moreover, the quantity surveyor needs to be abreast with business financial management and the risks to businesses’ survival that arise from increased competition due to globalization (Davis et al., 2007; Holt, 2013).
The changes in the industry will only continue to escalate (Smith, 2004); organizations in all fields are under increasing pressure to offer value-added services, innovate, and learn to survive and grow in the face of increased competition and rapid change (Ofori, 2012). The QSP must be ready to address these changing times by improving their skills in information technology, improving their qualifications, and continuing to expand their current roles (Owusu-Manu et al., 2014). The profession must be bolder, more entrepreneurial, and more proactive (Smith, 2004; Brümmer, 2004). It should conduct robust continuing professional development programs and periodic examinations of its members (Owusu-Manu et al., 2014). Grant (2004) suggested that quantity surveyors diversify their domain of expertise and strengthen the bases of their strategic assets, such as education, training, experience, and knowledge. Consequently, there should be greater focus on how expertise in project procurement can be improved (Kumaraswamy & Dulaimi, 2001), and how the construction value chain can be made more efficient (Atkin, 1998). Also, there is the need to address the concerns of sustainable development, health, and safety in project delivery (Lingard & Rowlinson, 2006), and enhancing the level of professionalism in the construction industry (Vee & Skitmore, 2003). More so, the industry must learn how to transform the adversarial mindsets of practitioners, and promote collaborative approaches (Li et al., 2001). Subsequently, there is the need to eradicate corruption in the industry (Stansbury, 2005; Transparency International, 2006), and enhance the social image of construction (Rameezdeen, 2007); and, perhaps most importantly, how to attract, retain, and develop talent (Toor & Ofori, 2008b).
Identifying the challenges of the QSP and the expectations of individual quantity surveyors will not only help the profession be aware of its inhibiting factors but also facilitate identifying and adopting innovative solutions to the identified shortcomings. In this way, the QSP can remain competitive and profitable in the construction industry. However, not much has been done to examine the challenges and expectations of innovative QS firms. Therefore, this study aims to identify these challenges and expectations of innovative quantity surveyors and QS firms in Ghana.
A quantitative research approach was used to obtain the requisite data for this study. Secondary data was elicited by reviewing relevant extant literature on the topic. Close-ended questionnaires were prepared based on variables identified in the literature to address the research aim, objective, and question. The questionnaire for this study had two parts: Part A was devoted to the demographic data of the respondents. Part B of the questionnaire focused on the objective of the study: identifying the challenges and expectations of the QS firms and individual quantity surveyors in the firms. The responses of each respondent were measured using a five-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
For this study, the population was limited to quantity surveyors in Kumasi and Accra who were in good standing with the Ghana Institution of Surveyors as of December 2016. According to the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (2016), there were about 43 QS firms and 389 members in good standing. The members consisted of 39 fellows, 313 professionals, and 37 technicians. According to Ahadzie (2007), Accra and Kumasi are the centers of construction activities in Ghana, hence the choice of these two cities for use in this study. The Kish formula (popularly used in most empirical works, as seen in works of Bolstein and Crow (2008)) was used to obtain the sample size for the study: 80. Purposive and convenience sampling techniques were adopted for this study. Purposive sampling was used based upon a variety of criteria, including specialist knowledge of the research issue, experience or capacity, and willingness to participate in the research. Convenience sampling was also used to obtain responses from the experts who were readily available — for instance, subjects that arrived at the QS firms by coincidence.
The questionnaires were distributed to the top managers at the innovation champion QS firms and the individual quantity surveyors at these firms. Both groups were allowed to provide responses to the firm and individual perspective sections of the questionnaire because, being members of the firms, they should be able to discuss the challenges of the QSP, and as individuals in the firms, they should be able to discuss their expectations for the betterment of their service and output. After sending out 80 questionnaires, 68 of them were retrieved, representing a response rate of 85%. This was considered sufficient based on the avowal of Moser and Kalton (1979) that the result of a survey could be considered as biased and of little significance if the return rate was lower than 30% to 40%.
However, before analyzing the data, Cronbach’s alpha coefficient test was used to check the internal consistency of the variables. According to Howland and Wedman (2004), for scales to be reliable, ideally, the Cronbach’s alpha should exceed 0.700. After subjecting the data to Cronbach’s alpha reliability test, the value obtained from the analysis was 0.825, justifying the reliability of the scale. The software used for this analysis were the Statistical Packages for Social Science (SPSS) Version 23 and Microsoft Excel 2016.
Grounded in an exploratory survey of QS firms that champion process innovation firms in Ghana, this study was conducted to identify the challenges of these firms, and the expectations of the individual quantity surveyors sat these firms. The study provides considerable insight into the paradigm shift of the QSP and how it has evolved until now. The QPS is now faced with new challenges, and its members are proactively looking to better their services and output. From the analysis, the top three challenges facing QS firms are how to eradicate corruption in the industry, how to ensure higher standards of transparency and accountability, and how to enhance the level of professionalism in the industry. The top three expectations of the individual quantity surveyors at the QS were the need to further enhance their skills and develop the technologies and innovations to achieve sustainable buildings; the need to become more entrepreneurial and proactive; and the need to develop new niches, cultivate new knowledge, and break into new areas in order to enhance their competitiveness.
A priori, it would be in the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) best interest to alter their rules and regulations to enable the profession to eschew corruption, ensure transparency, and increase the professionalism of its members. Hence, ensuring accountability, innovation, and continuing professional development of its members. Moreover, the competencies of the profession could be enhanced if higher education institutes that train QS professionals to update their course modules to reflect the current trend of the QSP. The government could also help increase the integrity of the profession by allocating governmental projects through proper procurement strategies and opening up bidding to enable a fair distribution of resources within the country.
The study was limited to exploring the challenges and expectations of innovative QS firms and quantity surveyors in Ghana. A further study could be conducted to determine how the expectations and the challenges of the QS firms and quantity surveyors can be managed. A study into the skill set required for professional quantity surveyors to take advantage of new technologies and computer programs would also be imperative. Additionally, developing a robust continuing professional development approach for the QS industry to ensure the development of its members is essential.
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