Infrastructure Engineering - Research Publications

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    Evaluating uncertainties to deliver enhanced service performance in education PPPs: a hierarchical reliability framework
    Geng, L ; Herath, N ; Hui, FKP ; Liu, X ; Duffield, C ; Zhang, L (EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD, 2022-06-20)
    Purpose This study aims to develop a hierarchical reliability framework to evaluate the service delivery performance of education public–private partnerships (PPPs) effectively and efficiently during long-term operations. Design/methodology/approach The research design included development and test phases. In the development phase, three performance layers, i.e. indicator, component and system, in the education service delivery system were identified. Then, service component reliability was computed through first order reliability method (FORM). Finally, the reliability of the service system was obtained using dynamic component weightings. A PPP school example in Australia was set up in the test phase, where performance indicators were collected from relevant contract documents and performance data were simulated under three assumptive scenarios. Findings The example in the test phase yielded good results for the developed framework in evaluating uncertainties of service delivery performance for education PPPs. Potentially underperforming services from the component to the system level at dynamic timepoints were identified, and effective preventative maintenance strategies were developed. Research limitations/implications This research enriches reliability theory and performance evaluation research on education PPPs. First, a series of performance evaluation indicators are constructed for assessing the performance of the service delivery of the education PPP operations. Then, a reliability-based framework for service components and system is developed to predict service performance of the PPP school operations with consideration of a range of uncertainties during project delivery. Practical implications The developed framework was illustrated with a real-world case study. It demonstrates that the developed reliability-based framework could potentially provide the practitioners of the public sector with a basis for developing effective preventative maintenance strategies with the aim of prolonging the service life of the PPP schools. Originality/value Evaluating education PPPs is challenging as it involves long-term measurement of various service components under uncertainty. The developed reliability-based framework is a valuable tool to ensure that reliability is maintained throughout the service life of education PPPs in the presence of uncertainty.
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    Improving Design by Partnering in Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) Hydropower Projects: A Case Study of a Large-Scale Hydropower Project in China
    Liu, Y ; Tang, W ; Duffield, CF ; Hui, FKP ; Zhang, L ; Zhang, X ; Kang, Y (MDPI, 2021-12-01)
    Hydropower, as a renewable energy resource, has become an important way to fit for Chinese long-term energy policy of energy transformation. Engineering–procurement–construction (EPC) has been increasingly adopted for improving hydropower project delivery efficiency in the utilization of water resources and generation of clean energy, where design plays a critical role in project success. Existing studies advocate the need to use partnering for better solutions to designs in EPC hydropower projects. However, there is a lack of a theoretical framework to systematically address design-related issues considering different participants’ interactions. This study coherently examined the causal relationships among partnering, design management, design capability, and EPC hydropower project performance by establishing and validating a conceptual model, with the support of data collected from a large-scale EPC hydropower project. Path analysis reveals that partnering can directly promote design management and design capability and exert an effect on design capability through enhancing design management, thereby achieving better hydropower project outcomes. This study’s contribution lies in that it theoretically builds the links between intra- and inter-organizational design-related activities by systematically mapping EPC hydropower project performance on partnering, design management, and design capability. These findings also suggest broad practical strategies for participants to optimally integrate their complementary resources into designs to achieve superior hydropower project performance.
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    HOW TO GET INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DELIVERED ON TIME: FROM CHINESE CONTRACTORS' PERSPECTIVE
    Sun, H ; Tang, W ; Duffield, CF ; Zhang, L ; Hui, FKP (VILNIUS GEDIMINAS TECH UNIV, 2022-01-01)
    67.9% of Chinese international construction projects are seriously delayed, which creates the potential for instability in its rapidly growing share of global contracting markets. A greater understanding of the reasons behind the challenges confronting international contractors is urgently required such that improvements can be developed that ultimately will benefit many countries. This study aims to investigate the time performance of international projects in developing countries and to explore the root causes of time overrun. Based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis of 112 case study projects, collected from 12 of the largest Chinse state-owned enterprises (SOEs), this study identifies the distinctive characteristics of three types of projects (late, acceptable, early) classified based on their time performances. It is established that time performance is significantly related to the contractor’s adaptability and project complexity. The results reveal the root causes of construction delays in international project delivery, which provides a structured and in-depth understanding of both internal and external time performance influential factors. The above findings provide sound basis for guiding practitioners in choosing appropriate strategies to improve project time performance, such as encouraging cross-cultural dialogues, integrating global resources and establishing long-term global partnerships with stakeholders.
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    Managing Interfaces in Large-Scale Projects: The Roles of Formal Governance and Partnering
    Shen, W ; Tang, W ; Wang, Y ; Duffield, CF ; Hui, FKP ; Zhang, L (ASCE-AMER SOC CIVIL ENGINEERS, 2021-07-01)
    Interface management has been viewed as one of the important organizational capabilities to promote coordination and integration among stakeholders in construction project delivery, especially for large-scale projects. This paper examines the role of formal governance, partnering, and organizational boundary activities and their interactions in interface management performance. An integrated framework with consideration of the influence of formal governance, partnering, and boundary activities on interface management performance and associated project outcomes was developed and empirically tested with data collected from 85 large-scale international projects. The results show that formal governance is the dominant determinant of interface management performance and can indirectly influence it through improving partnering and boundary activities. Partnering and boundary activities are also significant antecedents of interface management performance, which, in turn, improves project outcomes of large-scale construction projects. Formal governance and partnering mutually reinforce each other. Interface management performance is positively related to project outcomes in terms of quality, cost, and schedule. This empirical research contributes to the fundamental understanding of the critical factors that govern the interface management performance and, ultimately, the project outcomes. In addition, the outcomes of this study highlighted the broad managerial implications for participants in large-scale projects.
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    A Competency Framework for Construction Engineering Graduates: An Industry Perspective
    ZHANG, X ; TANG, W ; Duffield, CF ; Zhang, L ; Hui, K ; Liu, Y ; Kang, Y (Tempus Publications, 2021-06-20)
    Engineering education plays a key role in training talent engineers to meet the challenges of sustainable development in the construction industry. To address the requirements of construction engineering and sustainable development, a new competency framework was developed based on a systematic literature review. This framework incorporates five categories of competencies, including interdisciplinary knowledge, technical expertise and innovation, identifying and solving problems, managerial capacity, and ethical and professional responsibilities. The framework was validated using a questionnaire survey and eight rounds of interviews. The results suggest that all the five competencies within the proposed framework are important and should be incorporated in the construction engineering education, and this can help graduates deal with sustainability issues in the future.
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    Environment Management of Hydropower Development: A Case Study
    Zhang, Y ; Tang, W ; Duffield, C ; Zhang, L ; Hui, FKP (MDPI AG, 2021-04-06)
    Environment management is one of the key aspects of hydropower development in acquiring sustainable energy. However, there has been limited research demonstrating the overall aspects of environment management of hydropower development with support of sound empirical evidence. In present study, the status of environment management in hydropower development was comprehensively investigated by conducting a case study based on the data collected from a field survey. The results show that, as environment management is largely subject to legal requirements, the environment management system needs to be established by integrating the legal requirements and needs of project implementation. This could potentially reduce the influence of legal restrictions on hydropower development. The main hydropower project environment management processes include identifying key environmental factors, implementation, monitoring, and performance measurement, which deal with environmental issues such as terrestrial and aquatic ecology protection, wastewater treatment, solid waste disposal, and acoustic-environment protection. Project participants should establish partnering relationships to cooperatively deal with environmental impacts of hydropower project development, in which public participation and sufficient resources input into environmental protection are essential for project success. The results of this study provide a sound basis for participants to deal with the key issues of environmental protection such as meeting legal requirements, training for improving environment management process, cost control, and cooperative environment management. The results of this study could help practitioners to tackle the interactions among project delivery, environmental protection, and engagement of local communities in an optimized way with the aim of maximizing effectiveness of the resources of all participants.
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    Reliability-Based Decision Support Framework for Major Changes to Social Infrastructure PPP Contracts
    Geng, L ; Herath, N ; Zhang, L ; Kin Peng Hui, F ; Duffield, C (MDPI AG, 2020)
    In the operational phase of public-private partnership (PPP) contracts, undue delay in addressing real needs may lead to poor service outcomes; conversely, commencing variations to a PPP agreement on the whim of end-user runs the risk of reducing the value created by detailed structuring and considerations undertaken in establishing agreement. This difficulty is exasperated as there is generally a lack of understanding by the end-user as to the specifics of service delivery performance requirements contracted. In order to address this question, this study, for the first time, develops a reliability-based decision support framework (RDSF) that incorporates end-user’s perceived service quality (i.e., how satisfied it is with the space, operation and maintenance activities) with those specified in the PPP agreement, and further identifies when the gap between end-user’s expectations and contractual obligations warrants reconsideration. This developed framework is then implemented to test the data gathered from three PPP schools in Australia based on both a current snapshot of performance data, i.e., abatements as gathered through contract documents and end-user’s perception through in-depth interviews, and a projected scenario of the future as well. Reliability analysis used here compares time-dependent risk profiles of current and expected performance and thereby identifies major changes in a PPP contract that would sensibly require reconsideration. The specific results indicate there is no current difficulty between end-user’s perception and the contract. However, the projected long-term scenario demonstrates how the decision framework can identify areas for review and changes if end-users are more dissatisfied with the service being achieved. The RDSF is capable of quantifying current service performance, considering the engagement of the end-user. Thus it enriches theories in the field of performance management system (PMS), and also contributes to knowledge regarding an evidence-based test for justifying possible agreement modifications or additional works in social PPPs operations. In addition, guidance for performance improvement strategies in aspects of the dissatisfied area is also provided. Application of this approach would assist in maintaining the long-term value for money of social infrastructure PPP agreements.
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    Improving design performance by alliance between contractors and designers in international hydropower EPC projects from the perspective of Chinese construction companies
    Zhang, Q ; Tang, W ; Liu, J ; Duffield, C ; Hui, FKP ; Zhang, L ; Zhang, X (MDPI AG, 2018-04-13)
    © 2018 by the authors. Extant literature lacks a systematic framework addressing the mechanisms of the alliance functional process and its impacts on management activities together with performance in delivering Engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) projects. This study quantitatively investigates the cause-effect relationships among these themes by building and validating a conceptual model of contractor-designer alliance in international hydropower EPC projects. With the support of data collected from an industry survey, the results reveal the key design problems, application of contractor-designer alliance, design management level and performance, which form a sound basis for design management emphasis in EPC activities, e.g., sufficiently considering sustainability of hydropower projects by incorporating environmental, social, and economic factors into designs. The path analysis indicates that the contractor-designer alliance can not only improve design performance by enhancing design management, but also directly promote design performance. This research has significant contributions to the body of knowledge by building interdisciplinary linkages between the areas of alliance, design management, and performance, theoretically demonstrating the mechanism of how interfirm cooperation functions to achieve superior design outcomes of hydropower EPC projects. Understanding these causal relationships will be crucial for contractors and designers to optimally allocate their complementary resources for seeking better design solutions in dealing with both technical issues and sustainability factors.
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    Qualitative Analysis of the Occupational Health and Safety Performance of Chinese International Construction Projects
    Lei, Z ; TANG, W ; Duffield, C ; Zhang, L ; Hui, K ; You, R (MDPI AG, 2018-11-22)
    Chinese contractors undertaking international projects are frequently criticized for their poor Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) performance. It is noticed that people with different occupations may perceive OHS differently. From a qualitative perspective, this study investigates the perceived OHS performances of design managers and construction managers engaged in Chinese overseas construction projects, considering a range of subgroups classified by people’s overseas experience, project size, project industry, project location, and firm size. The analysis was based on an e-questionnaire survey that sampled responses from 52 design managers and 160 construction managers involved in 110 international projects, and face-to-face interviews with 26 managers. The findings indicate that the assessment variation of OHS performance between design managers and construction managers is not only related to their different mental ways, but also can be mediated by their in-progress communication and affected by project and organizational conditions. The varying OHS performance in projects with different sizes or from different regions also suggests that Chinese contractors should be more proactive in OHS management instead of passively responding to external requirements.
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    The impact of technical standards on international project performance: Chinese contractors' experience
    Lei, Z ; Tang, W ; Duffield, C ; Zhang, L ; Hui, FKP (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2017-11-01)