Development of a risk response model to handle delays of construction projects in the United Arab Emirates.
Motaleb, Omayma Hashim
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Due to the complex nature of construction projects, delay risks are more widespread in the construction sector than elsewhere. This poses a problem for the industry, since it is already at risk because of the recent global economic recession. Indeed, the financial crisis in late 2008 arrested economic development in the construction sector in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the result that investors’ confidence in the sector is severely depressed. In this situation, effective risk response is urgently required, since it aims to ensure that all project objectives, including avoiding delays, are met. In itself, the risk response process is a core element of risk management and perhaps the most important area needs to be improved. The aim of the research work that underpins this thesis was to develop a model for effective risk response to help in controlling delay risks. First, the strengths and weaknesses of current risk response processes have been analysed through a comprehensive critical literature review. Common causes of delay risks have been identified and various traditional measures used for their control have been critically reviewed. The greatest deficiencies in all published measures of delay risks control in construction projects are related to the lack of risk response development and appropriate measures (preventative/mitigating), within the risk management process. From the literature review it was also possible to identify the most appropriate methodology to adopt for the current research. A robust research methodology was then outlined which involved a questionnaire survey, case studies and interviews to confirm the literature review results and to achieve the research objectives. The questionnaire was piloted with nine construction professionals in the UAE for its suitability with the envisaged sample. After the pilot the questionnaire was refined then administered in 35 construction, consultancy, and contracting companies, attracting 102 usable responses. The results of the questionnaire confirmed the literature review results. Accordingly, six case studies from three companies were identified and supplemented by face-to-face interview, documents and direct observations. This strategy allowed the research evidence to be triangulated and thus the researcher to be more confident in testing a particular concept or theory. From the results it emerged that most organisations have immature project management systems and poor risk response processes. Hence, 22 Key Success Factors (KSFs) of preventative measures and 15 KSFs of mitigation measures were identified to achieve risk response development by maturity levels in the pre-construction stage and in the construction stage, respectively. The analysis of the case studies revealed the great potential for employing five KSFs of mitigation measures in the risk response development to control delay risks. Having considered these outcomes a risk response development model to control delay risks has been outlined. The model has been carefully validated, both theoretically and in practical terms, through the discussions with interviewees from the selected case studies. The interviewees agreed on the practicality of the model to identify the risk response development, however it is recommended that the project risk event severity and the company capability would need to be taken into account, and the demand to format the test stage for the maturity levels at the transition stages (Disciplinary, Consistency, Integration, and Optimisation) to achieve the effectiveness and the transparency of the model. Based on the validation, it is anticipated that by developing the risk response model, the process itself will be more objective, particularly in delay risks control. The study brings forward findings that can be promoted as the means to enhance opportunities to control delay risks, and benefit practitioners in the UAE given that so far, there has been no model of risk response development by maturity levels for delay risks control. Moreover, one of the unique features of the study is the creation of new knowledge by focusing on the UAE. At the same time, the use of maturity modeling to handle construction delay risks provides new knowledge for a wider audience.