Sample Management Paper on Organizational Culture in Construction Change Management


Organizations are composed of underlying values, beliefs, and social-cultural ways of conducting their day to day activities (Nukić 2018). Such principles and ideologies make up the organizational culture that is instrumental in determining a company’s success. Organizational culture influences how employees partake in various projects and, more importantly, how they respond to various changes in the industry. Still, effective change management requires a holistic approach to offer a competitive advantage to any company. In the construction sector, innovation has been increasingly associated with organizational culture in offering organizations the best strategies to respond to change (Nguyen & Watanabe 2017). Moreover, additional aspects of motivation, leadership, and stakeholder engagement have been vital in promoting successful change management. One organization that can benefit from effective change management is GUI Build. GUI Build has experienced significant disputes and consequential losses after poorly responding to changes by the principal contractor and more emergent issues in the sector. This paper seeks to evaluate organizational culture and explain how related aspects such as innovation, motivation, leadership, and diversification can tune the culture to manage change in an organization effectively. More so, the paper outlines recommendations that can enable GUI Build to manage the prevailing changes best.

Review of Relevant Literature

Organizational Culture in Construction

Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez and Sanz-Valle (2019) explain that more often than not, organizational culture in highly technical fields such as construction is overshadowed. However, globalization and the significant impacts of technological advancements have necessitated organizations to rethink about cultures at the workplace. This has seen organizations work towards social construction models to create an employee environment that is suited to be highly responsive to the emerging trends in the construction sector (Arditi, Nayak & Damci 2017). Conceptually, human resources, and organizational cultures are valuable sources of competitive advantage for organizations. Luckily for culture, it is an active living phenomenon that can be aligned with the vision and values of an organization at any time. The illustration below shows a few of observable and unobservable elements of organizational culture.

Figure 1: Elements of organizational culture.

Amidst many definitions of organizational culture, it can be wholly defined as a collection of organization’s philosophies, experiences, and expectations embedded in employees, thus guiding their behavior, inner workings, and overall interactions (Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez & Sanz-Valle 2019). It is a reflection of shared assumptions and real experiences of members of an organization. Notably, organizational culture is significantly determined by national culture (Nazipova, Koshkina & Faizova 2017). The distinct culture in the construction industry is a factor of the uniqueness of the industry: geographical distribution, dynamic nature of site management, highly itinerant and mobile workforce, fixed duration of construction projects, and a large number of professionals and companies that need to work on together in a project. According to the competing values framework by Cameron and Quinn (2011), an organization’s cultural topology can be examined by looking at the controlling behavior versus the degree of flexibility and internal focus versus external orientation. The framework breaks the cultures into the Clan Culture, the Adhocracy Culture, the Market Culture, and the Hierarchy Culture.

Figure 2: The competing values framework.

A distinct set of values characterize each of the four culture topologies. They determine an organization’s way of doing business and, consequently, its effectiveness. The clan culture focuses on human factors and emphasizes empowerment through teamwork and shared values among people (Cameron & Quinn 2011). On the other hand, the market culture is result-oriented driven by aggressive leadership working towards productivity and profitability to offers the entity a competitive edge. Hierarchy culture represents leadership and control in an organization to enhance the efficiency and integration of operations. In contrast, Adhocracy culture emphasizes the adaptability, flexibility, and innovativeness of the organization to leverage competitive opportunities and avert risks in the dynamic environments. As illustrated, an organization’s culture does not have to lie in a fixed topology explicitly but instead is more oriented towards one or more. Whereas different organizational cultures can suit different industries, construction companies note immense benefits of moving towards the adhocracy and clan cultures.

Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez and Sanz-Valle (2019) describe adhocracy culture as one based on energy and creativity. Workers are encouraged to take risks, and leaders are viewed as entrepreneurs or innovators. This freedom of individual ingenuity is essential in enabling construction organizations to be agile and responsive to change. Clan culture complements individual creativity in construction companies by promoting collaboration. The communication brought by clan culture helps creatives to team up efficiently and arrive at progressive consensuses. Unlike the market and hierarchy cultures, these cultures are not rigid, and all participants’ contribution is highly valued. The motivation and self-worth developed to motivate the employees to improve their performance.

Motivating Innovation through Organizational Culture

According to Dulaimi and Hartmann (2006), motivation is the driving force behind the generation and implementation of innovative ideas. The feeling of identity with the parent organization fuels employees to go beyond their work boundaries and invest in innovative solutions at the workplace. The synergy of clan and adhocracy cultures in construction firms provides the best environment for contemporary construction projects. Modern construction works necessitate the development of new products and new designs. The majority of previous researches has focused on the impact of motivation and organizational behaviors on productivity. In construction, this has also proven to be a key ingredient in appreciating the uniqueness of human ingenuity and sprouting innovation from different players within the workforce.

The survival of construction companies in the recent past has greatly depended on innovation (Matinaro & Liu 2017). Some of the contributing factors towards this shift in the industry include advancements in technology. Emerging technologies bring cheaper and more efficient construction techniques that produce better products. They have allowed construction engineers to envision designs unimaginable in the past and implement them more easily. However, it requires a conducive working environment that motivates employees to develop such masterpieces. More importantly, collaboration helps to bring the best out of noble ideas. All the organizational culture layers should provide a feeling of self-worth, impotence, and appreciation to promote organizational innovation. This motivates the employees to develop the ideas and sustain the commitment throughout the implementation phases. Commitment encourages innovators to put more effort into ensuring the success of their products. It is crucial in helping construction companies to adapt to the changing trends in the industry.

Leadership in Organizational Culture

According to Dulaimi and Hartmann (2006), good managerial actions in construction firms induce a culture conducive to innovation.  Organizational leaders have a role in nurturing consistent and consensual innovative behaviors during daily project works. As such, leaders must nurture norms and values that are in line with the set strategies. In leadership, effective communication is crucial in creating a singular direction for a construction firm. It would be futile for a firm’s management to envision a culture and fail to develop it amongst the organization’s junior members. For communication to be effective, it should be two-way. All employees should feel free to express their views to all firm members without fear of castigation. This promotes collaboration and understanding and provides an opportunity to raise good ideas from different parts of a construction firm. The leaders should learn a culture providing feedback on innovative ideas and behavior to boost morale for employees. Leaders should be transformative and create visions that inspire the growth of construction firms. In the same vein, they should constantly provide regular training to employees to equip them with skills to execute changes to better the organization. Through these practices, leaders build their team members’ confidence to take on new challenges in the construction industry. It nurtures a culture where employees are not afraid to try out new ideas but are instead motivated by the firm and co-workers’ support.

Change Management in Construction

Al-Ali et al. (2017) explain that changes are inevitable in construction. However, the response to emerging alterations in a project is crucial in determining the project’s overall impact. According to Moayeri (2017), a change in any part of the project can cause a series of changes in other parts of the project producing a ripple effect in the overall implementation of a construction project. Therefore, change must be effectively managed to ensure the success of construction projects. Change in the construction industry is not necessarily associated with negative impacts on the project. On the contrary, most change processes are initiated to improve the project or avert dangers that were not foreseen during the initialization of the project. Nonetheless, all changes have an impact on the costs and time of project implementation. There are different sources of changes in a project that influence the party most affected by the changes. Most changes are design changes that include deletions, additions, or modifications to the original work (Arditi, Nayak & Damci 2017). These changes can be motivated by client factors, including the availability of capital and change in preference. The client might decide to do away with a certain construction aspect to save on costs.

Changes are complicated, and their effects on project implementation depend on how the changes are managed. Therefore, the importance of an efficient change management system in construction cannot be overstated. The primary objective of such a system is to eliminate any time delays and unnecessary costs to the original contract while maintaining the safety and quality of the project (Moayeri 2017).  The system is also instrumental in identifying and leveraging opportunities that might be associated with the change. Alternatively, it helps to minimize the inevitable costs that might be accompanied by the change. An effective change management system helps in recognizing project changes that have already happened and predicting possible changes. Also, the system helps to plan preventive impacts and manage identified changes throughout the project.  Notably, innovation plays a significant role in change management. Construction managers should welcome all creative solutions when planning for changes in a project.


Role of Organizational Culture in Construction Change Management

The nature of construction projects makes them prone to changes during implementation. The project owners or clients and different stakeholders interested in a particular project may decide to initiate construction changes. The construction managers might also notice the necessity of altering some of the proposed works while the project is underway. However, the impacts of such an alteration are not straightforward; they have to be systematically analysed by construction experts. The construction managers can also identify a need to introduce changes in an ongoing construction project. The change can be necessitated by different professional considerations such as improvements in the structural integrity, safety, reduction in costs, or integration of new technology to the project. The government, community, and other stakeholders in the construction sector can also force some change on the project. In all these cases, the construction firm must critically analyse the effects of the proposed changes to the safety, effectiveness, and costs on the construction costs before embarking on the change. It is crucial to bring the client and other stakeholders on the same page about the effects of the change and reach an amicable conclusion.

Organizational cultures are important in managing employees, partners, clients, and other stakeholders in construction environments. Similarly, these cultures influence how responsible parties manage change in a project. As highlighted earlier, more often than not, a change causes more changes in different parts of the construction project. Effective change management requires a holistic approach by members from all the parts of an organization. Therefore, it requires an organizational culture that promotes collaborative participation by members at all levels in a construction firm. Hierarchy and market cultures are least suitable in change management because they are more focused on the operations and results, respectively. Nevertheless, Nevertheless, the competing values framework contributes to the fact that organizational cultures can be intentionally changed by managers and used as tools of control and management. An organization should strive to nurture adhocracy and clan cultures that offer the best environment for change management.

Halou, Samin and Ahmad (2019) highlight that risk management and cost management as major components in change management. For effective management of risk and costs associated with change, the construction firm must have a productive stakeholder engagement system. This calls for a culture that promotes effective and bilateral communication between all the stakeholders in a construction firm. Disputes that result from unmanageable changes lead to delays and cost proliferation in construction projects. Therefore, construction managers should nurture an environment where views from all members of the organization are respected and recognized to promote amicable resolutions. Lack of freedom of expression within a construction firm could result in misunderstanding and silent resistance to project changes making it difficult to manage the changes. Contrary to this, teamwork and shared values of the clan culture help all members to raise their issues and propose the best strategies to address the impending changes.

At the beginning of construction projects, possible changes are not unprecedented. However, there are many uncertainties in the nature and type of changes that might arise during project implementation. As such, change management strategies in the construction industry emphasize creativity and innovativeness. According to (Lim, Wang & Oo 2016), innovation also brings positive change recommendations that make construction projects even better than originally designed. For instance, in the recent past, there have been many innovative modifications to ongoing projects towards the creation of eco-friendly products. Buildings have changed their designs to maximize the use of solar for electrical and lighting purposes. For employees to be innovative, they need an environment that appreciates and motivates them to put more effort into developing their ideas. The environment should be flexible for employees by promoting individual ingenuity and being sensitive to employee ideas. Organizations should not shy away from supporting employees through training and development opportunities. Leaders in construction need to focus more on developing organizational cultures anchored on collaboration, agility, and creativity (Gilbert 2013). Such cultures enhance change management systems and improve the competitiveness of construction companies.

Recommendations for GUI Build

For a medium construction company such as GUI Build, changes can adversely affect the company’s position if not well managed. A combination of changes by the client and in the sector has proved difficult for the firm. Consequently, stakeholder disagreements have caused disputes and significant losses for the organization. Failure to address the challenges in time could be detrimental to the projects and the entire firm. The company management should promptly re-evaluate their change management strategy and identify the mistakes that are repeatedly compromising its response to change. More importantly, the leadership should understand the significant role of the existing organizational culture in change management processes. GUI Build should analyze the values and principles that exist among employees at all levels of the company. Consequently, managers should evaluate how the behaviors nurtured by the construction company affect the change management in the organization. In so doing, they understand the values that work towards and against effective change management for the company.

As outlined by (Cameron & Quinn 2011), GUI Build should work on changing their organizational culture to incorporate values that promote effective change management processes in the competing values framework. First, the leadership should build trust and respect for individuals in the company. This will motivate them to bring out issues and ideas that can enhance change management in the organization. Setting up programs for employee training, growth, and development enables employees to be innovative. Appreciation and organizational support should also be provided for innovations in the company. This helps the workers to remain committed to develop innovative solutions that are instrumental in promoting effective change management. Through improved communication, the company should promote teamwork within the company and enhance strong engagement with other stakeholders. Nurturing proper relations with clients, contractors, the government, and other stakeholders in the sector will help the organization develop better solutions to address changes in the sector. Good relationships will help GUI Build to avoid unnecessary disputes, which are the lead causes of delays and rising costs in construction projects.  This will also provide avenues to table positive changes for improving ongoing construction projects. Eventually, the organizational culture will transform into one that minimizes losses through effective change management processes.


Underlying values, principles, and ways of doing things in construction companies form organizational cultures that define the firm in different ways—the role of these cultures in change management of construction companies significant. According to the competing values framework, there are four main culture topologies in organizations. They include the clan, market, hierarchy, and adhocracy cultures. For effective change management, it is important to mold an organization towards clan and Adhocracy cultures. These cultures promote human ingenuity and collaboration that motivates employees to be innovative and agile in change management. GUI Build is recommended to adopt these cultures to improve stakeholder engagement and reduce disputes leading up to significant losses. It should develop an organizational culture where employees are free and supported to make creative contributions for sustainable change management.




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