English: Communication can be traced to, among others, an individual’s language
and cultural background. These aspects play a fundamental role in ensuring
effective communication. Literature surveys show that language and culture
have contributed to ineffective communication, giving rise to a wide range
of problems in the construction industry. These problems include an increase
in rework and poor product quality, and low employee morale. Given the
multicultural environment in which construction activities occur in South Africa,
communication can potentially dictate the extent of project performance.
In order to explore the impact of this phenomenon, a survey was undertaken
among general workers and site managers employed by five general contractors
(GCs) in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Salient findings include
that communication problems occur on construction sites due to language and
cultural diversity-related barriers; site managers are generally effective
at communicating; the South African workforce is diversely cultured, which
potentially leads to misunderstandings on sites, and language barriers between
site management and site workers impede performance improvement.