This chapter illustrates how unique, huge, diverse and enormously complex is the construction industry. This industry generally constitutes of enterprises and professionals whose primary objective is to build communities, roads, schools, homes, business, hospitals and including its maintenance. The construction process consists of many activities, right from the onset of the project design and right through its implementation, maintenance, refurbishment, and goes up to the eventual disposal of its buildings or in other words, the whole life cycle of the project. This industry therefore require a wide range of suppliers, contractors and including manufacturers of materials and components to carry out its activities. The industry had changed a lot in its complexity over time, but the objective of the industry remains basically the same as it was 100 years ago.
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However, the construction industry has a unique structure; with very few large establishments that dominate the infrastructure by carrying out works, that produces the majority of the turnover of this industry on a whole. Sears et al. 2008, p.2 state that contractors who vary widely in size and speciality accomplish the construction works. Some contractors choose to concentrate on a particular task or aspect of the construction project and are therefore referred to as specialty contractors. Others assume broader responsibility for a comprehensive work package and are referred to as main contractor.
Due to the diversity present in the industry, the industry is fragmented which is a reality, the reason might be due to the adversarial short-term relationships which causes dissatisfaction within the industry and is therefore a project – focused relationship. Moreover, lack of effective communication and implementation may also contribute to the fragmentation of the industry as it leads to significant negative impacts, low productivity, cost and time overruns and finally end up in conflicts and disputes.
The industry also now faces new levels of complexity as it moves forward trying to keep pace with the increasing energy, material and labour costs which are to a great extend mitigated by the other industries by adopting the new technologies especially communication and information technology and also advanced management strategies.
The industry is considered to be one of the major economic sectors, which contributes a lot to the gross domestic product of the nation in respect to other industries. Cooke, and Williams, 2009, on p.3 states that the annual output of the UK construction industry is approximately Â£114 billion, which represents almost 9% of gross domestic product. This industry also underpins the remaining sectors of the economy by providing the essential infrastructure and facilities on which all sectors of the economy depend. According to Potts, 2008, on p.3, this construction sector with 11.8 million operatives directly employed makes it Europeâ€™s largest industrial employer accounting for 7% of total employment and 28% of industrial employment in the EU.
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