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Journal cover: Structural Survey

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Online from: 1983

Subject Area: Built Environment

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Extreme weather events and construction SMEs: Vulnerability, impacts, and responses

Document Information:
Title:Extreme weather events and construction SMEs: Vulnerability, impacts, and responses
Author(s):Gayan Wedawatta, (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK), Bingunath Ingirige, (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK), Keith Jones, (School of Architecture and Construction, University of Greenwich, London, UK), David Proverbs, (Construction and Property Department, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Citation:Gayan Wedawatta, Bingunath Ingirige, Keith Jones, David Proverbs, (2011) "Extreme weather events and construction SMEs: Vulnerability, impacts, and responses", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 Iss: 2, pp.106 - 119
Keywords:Construction industry, Rainfall, Risk management, Small to medium-sized enterprises, Snow, United Kingdom
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/02630801111132795 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The content of this paper forms part of a multi-disciplinary project into Community Resilience and Extreme Weather Events (CREW) being funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions made by academics of partner universities for the general discussions that formed the background to this paper.

Purpose – The UK experienced a number of Extreme Weather Events (EWEs) during recent years and a significant number of businesses were affected as a result. With the intensity and frequency of weather extremes predicted in the future, enhancing the resilience of businesses, especially of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), who are considered as highly vulnerable, has become a necessity. However, little research has been undertaken on how construction SMEs respond to the risk of EWEs. In seeking to help address this dearth of research, this investigation sought to identify how construction SMEs were being affected by EWEs and the coping strategies being used.

Design/methodology/approach – A mixed methods research design was adopted to elicit information from construction SMEs, involving a questionnaire survey and case study approach.

Findings – Results indicate a lack of coping strategies among the construction SMEs studied. Where the coping strategies have been implemented, these were found to be extensions of their existing risk management strategies rather than radical measures specifically addressing EWEs.

Research limitations/implications – The exploratory survey focused on the Greater London area and was limited to a relatively small sample size. This limitation is overcome by conducting detailed case studies utilising two SMEs whose projects were located in EWE prone localities. The mixed method research design adopted benefits the research by presenting more robust findings.

Practical implications – A better way of integrating the potential of EWEs into the initial project planning stage is required by the SMEs. This could possibly be achieved through a better risk assessment model supported by better EWE prediction data.

Originality/value – The paper provides an original contribution towards the overarching agenda of resilience of SMEs and policy making in the area of EWE risk management. It informs both policy makers and practitioners on issues of planning and preparedness against EWEs.

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