Emerging contractors in South Africa: interactions and learning

19 Oct 2015

Purpose ? The South African construction industry is undergoing transformation. Part of this metamorphosis is the explosion in the number of ?emerging contractors?. However, emerging contractors have a tendency to fail to develop into sustainable enterprises due to inadequate construction knowledge and lack of experience. These shortfalls can be potentially overcome by learning through appropriate interactions with others who possess the required knowledge and experience but there is an absence of comprehensive data about the form and frequency of such interactions and reliance has tended to be on small scale samples or anecdotal reports. The paper aims to address these issues. Design/methodology/approach ? A survey amongst emerging contractors on interactions in the civil engineering sector was carried out, collecting mainly quantitative but also qualitative data for analysis. Findings ? Significant relations between particular forms of interactions and knowledge perceived to be held by the respondents exist. Interdependencies between interactions and knowledge levels are present. Yet, the findings indicate that these interactions are not fully capitalised on in terms of knowledge gains by the respondents. Originality/value ? Using the conceptual framework of the Basho, as introduced by Nonaka, the knowledge of patterns of interactions with indicators of knowledge-interaction interdependencies are of interest. Mapping these allows for the relevant existing learning contexts and knowledge transfer mechanisms to be explored and described.