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Understanding absorptive capacity in Malaysian small and medium sized (SME) construction companies

Kamal, E. M. and Flanagan, R. (2012) Understanding absorptive capacity in Malaysian small and medium sized (SME) construction companies. Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 10 (2). pp. 180-198. ISSN 1726-0531

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/17260531211241176


Purpose – The construction industry is a very important part of the Malaysian economy. The government's aim is to make the industry more productive, efficient and safe. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the core of the Malaysian construction industry and account for about 90 per cent of companies undertaking construction work. One of the main challenges faced by the Malaysian construction industry is the ability to absorb new knowledge and technology and to implement it in the construction phase. The purpose of this paper is to consider absorptive capacity in Malaysian construction SMEs in rural areas. Design/methodology/approach – The research was conducted in three stages: first, understanding the Malaysian construction industry; second, a literature review on the issues related to absorptive capacity and discussions with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB); and third, multiple case studies in five construction SMEs operating in a rural area to validate the factors influencing absorptive capacity. Findings – Nine key factors were identified influencing absorptive capacity in Malaysian construction SMEs operating in rural areas. These factors involved: cost and affordability; availability and supply; demand; infrastructure; policies and regulations; labour readiness; workforce attitude and motivation; communication and sources of new knowledge and; culture. Originality/value – The key factors influencing absorptive capacity presented in this paper are based on validation from the case studies in five construction SMEs in Malaysia. The research focuses on how they operate in rural areas; however, the research results have wider application than just Malaysia. The key factors identified as influencing absorptive capacity can serve as a basis for considering knowledge absorption in the wider context by SMEs in other developing countries.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:33008

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