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Research Methodology Example



Problem

The number of construction projects facing delays is on the increase. In turn, the delays cause the original time and expenses to increase as the owners, consultants and many state projects face delays and thus break the shedule and spend more than it had been initially estimated. Delays are more frequent in the traditional kind of contracts where the lowest bidder is given the contract. Delay to the proprietor means losing revenue as there are no production resources availed, higher labour costs and even increment of the price of materials because of inflation. Thus, delaying of projects either by their extension or acceleration leads to extra costs being incurred.

H: Project delays lead to project spending increase.

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Introduction

Estimation of the time required to complete a particular project should be made to indicate the commitment of the contractor to the project. Contractors should take into consideration various factors such as availability of manpower, site conditions, resource availability and other constraints. This will be regarded as the unchanged yardstick if claims for delay or interruptions are raised in the future. The date of completion derived from the first estimation may not be accurate, which will result in failure to complete the project in accordance with the contract date. The contractor should, therefore, recalculate the time of the critical path events and related resources for the purpose of obtaining the required date.

There are a number of factors that cause delays in the delivery of projects. These factors may be human factors such as lack of labour expertise, lack of materials, machine breakdowns, and shortage of funds to run the project, among others. Another group of factors is natural factors such as unfavourable weather conditions resulting to delay of project delivery. The research implies conducting a questionnaire survey to make an evaluation on the frequency of occurrence, severity and significance of the human and natural factors as the leading causes of project delays.

The questionnaires will be randomly distributed among clients, consultants and contractors representing various specializations in large projects. The data collected will be tallied to get an average position and understanding of the factors described by the respondents. Oral interviews will also be conducted to get the views of the stakeholders concerning delays in project delivery. In such a way, the interviewees will be given an opportunity to mention any other project delay cause that may not be covered in the questionnaires administered.

Literature Review

Types of Delays

Delays can be classified according to the agent that causes the delay. This classification gives three forms of delays: employer’s responsibility delay, contractor’s responsibility delay and neither party nor environmental hazards delays (Akinsiku & Akinsulire, 2012). Employer responsibility delays arise from failures by the employer to provide other resources of information on them. Contractor’s responsibility delays are caused by the inefficiency or inability of the contractor to proceed with the project diligently due to inadequate expertise, labour or machinery. The last form results from natural calamities, which are beyond human control, such as unfavourable weather conditions.

Major Causes of Construction Delays

The section above classifies delays as per the causative agent. However, there are specific actions or happenings carried out by the identified agents that actually lead to delays. Akinsiku and Akinsulire (2012) argue that delays can only be reduced if their causes are identified. Thus, it is important to understand the exact causes of these delays.

A number of studies indicate that the major cause of construction delays is a shortage of materials. This happens when the information provided by the employer was inadequate, there is a delay in employer releasing payments for completed works, or poor contract management (Akinsiku & Akinsulire, 2012). Most studies also indicate that poor financial arrangements that lead to delays in releasing of payments for completed works is a major detriment to construction works. This problem entails further challenges such as shortage of labour, lack of proper equipment, and shortage of construction materials. Closely associated with this are economic changes where the costs of materials keep changing over time. Fluctuations in costs make it hard to accurately estimate the cost of the construction, which results in financial complications, especially when trying to acquire extra funding for the projects.

Akinsiku and Akinsulire (2012) further suggest that poor workmanship affects the progress of the construction leading to delays. This often happens in traditional building systems where the employer focuses more on the cost the contractors are charging and ignores the skills of the contractor (Kikwasi, 2012). The final major cause of construction is natural calamities such as hostile weather and political unrest. In most construction delays, one or a combination of the above mentioned factors play a role. Understanding the factors causing the delays helps develop a mitigation measure to put the project back on course.

Effects of Delays

Construction delays often lead to liabilities either on the part of the client or the contractor. Studies conducted to assess the effects of construction delays indicate that delays lead to cost and time overruns, litigations and project abandonment. Cost overruns are often caused by the party responsible for delays; however, time overruns are solely induced by the clients and affect their business schedule. Invariably, regardless of who causes the delay, the client ends up losing in some way.

When delays occur, the project manager faces three possible scenarios: additional costs, decline in the quality of work, or rework of the project. On the other hand, the manager has the option of prescribing overtimes and inject extra resources, which will raise the cost of the project. Even if this happens, the prolonged time may reduce the efficiency of labour and lower the quality leading to a decline in the quality of the end product. In whichever way that the project manager reacts, delays lead to incremental costs and probable decline in quality.

Research Methodology

Research Method

There are three main methods that any study can follow: qualitative, quantitative or a hybrid of the two, which is commonly referred to as a mixed method (MacDonald & Headlam). Quantitative method deals with quantifiable data while qualitative method deals with subjective, non-numerical observations; on the other hand, mixed method is employed for studies that involve both numerical and subjective data.

The nature of the data to be collected and the objectives that a study is trying to achieve dictate the method adopted for the study (MacDonald & Headlam). Since this study seeks to investigate the problem of delays and their consequences, a phenomenon that includes both numerical and subjective observations, which is the mixed method approach, will be adopted for the study to help collect and analyse both qualitative and quantitative observations. Mixed method generally gives the researcher more freedom to collect data exhaustively. The researcher faces few restrictions as to the type of data that can be collected. This is crucial, especially when the problem at hand is explorative. Applying this method will give the study the freedom to collect a diversified data that will help understand the problem of project delays exhaustively.

Research Design

The design of any study should be flexible enough to allow the researcher collect all the information needed to make the most accurate inference (Bellamy &Perri, 2012, p. 14). A mixed method that is flexible enough has been adopted. Consequently, it makes sense that the study design should also be equally flexible, and thus survey design will be followed. Surveys help understand the problem at hand through analysis of the existing information by collecting data from prior experience. This helps develop an in-depth understanding of the problem at hand. Analyzing the nature, cause and impact of the problem aids in developing the most suitable solution to the problem.

Adopting a survey design for this study was determined by the fact that there is historical information, which can easily be collected by reaching the persons holding this information. If the right data collection tools are employed, the information collected through surveys will be comprehensive enough to help understand the problem of delays within the construction industry clearly.

Data Collection

Data is any variable that can be used in the area of study. Data can be presented in the form of statistics, opinions of the respondents, or observed variables (Graziano et al., 2010). The researcher will be basing his or her conclusions on the data collected. Data collection shall start from the determination of the population of interest followed by the isolation of the workable size known as the sample. The data collection process shall make use of scientific or rather statistical methods that accommodate the issue of randomness (Voqt, 2010, p. 11). Randomness is the key since it provides every element in the population with an equal and fair chance of being selected.

Sampling

Sampling refers to the process of selecting a small portion of the population that is workable since it is practically impossible to work with the whole population. This process needs much research prowess since any mistake here will ensue in inexact results that will be obtained from the investigation. Researchers will need to be equipped with the appropriate sampling techniques. There are several sampling techniques available to the researcher. However, for this research, a combination of purposive sampling and simple random sampling will work best. Purposive sampling is suitable for the researcher who has to apply his or her understanding of research methodology to know what to collect as information (Warren, 2009). The population will be subjected to an inclusion-exclusion criteria where participants have to meet some qualifications. The qualifications include:

  1. The project was completed within the last two years from today.
  2. The project was completed significantly after the originally scheduled date.
  3. The respondent was the project manager from either the contractor’s side or the employer’s.
  4. The project involved some construction works.

Once the population of interest has been highlighted, the researcher will then move ahead to use simple random sampling to obtain the appropriate sample. Random sampling will reduce bias in sample collection, thereby raising the reliability of the findings.

In this study, the researcher will identify contractors’ and employers’ projects that have recently been completed but failed to meet the deadline. Ten contractors and employers of qualifying projects will be identified, and the project manager from both sides will be approached to participate in the study. Ten respondents were deemed a sufficient representation of the population as the number of projects that experienced delays is not very high within the town. If any of the ten originally approached respondents declines participating in the study, a replacement will be recruited from the remaining population. Attempts will be made to ensure that at least 20 questionnaires, 10 of each category, will be issued out.

Data Collection Tools

A survey can be conducted through interviews, observation or questionnaires (Warren, 2009), and in this case, questionnaires will be used. As compared to interviews or observations, questionnaires are economical in time usage and can help collect more diverse data covering a larger sample than either interview or observation could. Semi-structured questionnaires containing both closed and open-ended questions will be used. Open-ended questions will help collect subjective qualitative data from the subjects of the study, whereas the closed questions will help collect quantifiable data. The questionnaires will be developed after a thorough literature review, which will help identify study gaps that need to be covered in the study.

Data Collection Procedure

Once the approached project managers agree to participate in the study, a questionnaire will be emailed to them. The questionnaire will indicate the measures that the researcher will undertake to maintain the anonymity of the subjects and present the questions. The subjects will be requested to fill the questionnaire and email it back within two weeks. In the event that the questionnaire is not returned in the first week, a reminder email will be sent, and if not sent by the end of the second week, it will be assumed that the project manager in question will participate in data collection procedure. All the questionnaires that will be received by the end of the second week will be used in the findings analysis.

Data Analysis

For qualitative observations, data examination will be done using a simple approach as suggested by Manen (1997). First, each questionnaire will be individually examined for significant words and data, and then a short summary will be drawn from each one of them. Common senses that were connected will then be congregated into subjects. The subjects will then be cross-checked by participants for integrity and dependability. The data collected will be analysed for matching themes to help the researcher develop an understanding of the causes of delays. The themes will be grouped and analysed using a linear regression model to establish a relationship between project delays and the themes identified.

For the quantitative observations, data was analysed using regression, percentages, median, and ANOVA tests. A graphical demonstration will also be used to show a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between variables and project delays. Finally, a table will be used to summarise all the observations and analysis findings from the study. The findings will be interpreted after a thorough study into the topic to ensure that an informed inference and conclusion is made.

Organisation of the Paper

This report has been devided into different sections. The first section is the introduction giving the backgroung information about the topic of study. The second section is the literature review presenting a summary of theories and previously conducted studies on the study topic. The third section presents the research methodology, whcih is followed by the findings sections where a summary of the data collected will be presented. Data anlysis and discussion will follow the findings section, and lastly, the conclusion and recommendation sections will be presented.

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