strategy

Managing physical development

Synonyms:
Managing construction projects
Context:
Construction projects enjoy a big advantage, through the availability of technical solutions. They suffer from two common weaknesses, the easiest solutions are not always the most economically efficient, and financial constraints can delay projects and starve them of resources for maintenance.

Fertilizer plants, refineries, dams, highways, and other projects are broadly alike in that they are built according to well-defined methods. Technical problems can still arise, of course, but the techniques for solving them are generally available to management. Where skills are lacking domestically, they are universal enough to be imported. The fastest and easiest operational solutions are not necessarily ideal in economic terms, however. Developing countries with abundant labour ought in theory to avoid capital intensive construction techniques, yet they often lack the capacity to manage large labour forces. Nor do some countries do much to encourage the development of such a capacity. For example, a key criterion for promotion of government engineers is often their experience in managing machinery. Such biases can be reduced by the creation of labour based construction departments offering security and prospects of promotion.

New construction is often smoothly implemented because it is politically attractive and therefore given financial priority. Nonetheless, delays are still common, and not simply because of bureaucratic procurement procedures or supply problems. Budgetary shortfalls also occur, and are made more damaging because many construction projects, such as dams, roads, factories, are indivisible. They cannot be scaled down or modified in response to financial constraints. It is therefore particularly important that governments make realistic provision for construction projects in their budgets.

Subjects:
Construction
Management
Development
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies