Exploring communication challenges due to language and cultural diversity on South African construction sites

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    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.