Defining the relationship between personal values and sustainability performance in a TMO setting
thesisposted on 03.07.2020, 08:47 by Mohammad Rickaby
Sustainability is associated with many contemporary challenges facing society, prompting sustainability initiatives and research in this field. As a result, there is pressure on organisations and projects to demonstrate how processes, practices, services and products are sustainable. From a construction industry perspective, projects are subject to particular scrutiny in terms of sustainability, such as, on environmental issues and social matters.
An emerging strand of research has sought to investigate sustainability as a function of values. Given that values are determinants and predictors of perceptions, attitudes and behaviours, understanding employees’ underlying values would provide important insights on how personal values relate to sustainability-related actions. Focusing on values as the ‘unit of analysis’ to explain sustainability is therefore gaining attention. However, there is a gap in knowledge around individual actors’ roles as influencers or change agents for sustainability, particularly in a construction project context. Drawing on Schwartz’s (1992) theory of human values, this exploratory research addresses this gap by conceptualising the relationship between personal values and sustainability, using a Temporary Multiple Organisation (TMO) (a rail infrastructure project in the UK) as the case study.
An adapted version of Schwartz (1992) Value Survey was used to measure and analyse the personal values of employees with professional and managerial roles, providing unique observations on value priorities and alignments in the TMO. However, given the lack of previous research or theory in construction industry context, abductive reasoning was adopted to explain the potential significance and implications of the survey findings in light of previous empirical studies. This enabled the development of six theoretical concepts (Sense of Belonging, Moral Obligation, Creativity, Challenge, Change, and Beyond Compliance), articulated as propositions, for the first time in construction management domain, which have the potential to explain and articulate the relationship between personal values and sustainability performance.
A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the significance and relevance of the concepts around sustainability in construction project environments. Drawing on the abductive reasoning findings and the semi-structured interviews a practical values-based checklist was developed, which was subsequently verified in a series of focus groups in the construction industry. Underpinned by values theory, the checklist facilitates for a more consistent, systematic and structured approach to address sustainability in construction projects, by providing practical guidance for both individuals and projects to collectively deliver better sustainability performance.
The findings are novel, with practical and theoretical implications, as the six concepts were derived from a set of (previously unconnected) empirical studies around values from a diverse range of contexts, providing a holistic overview and understanding of the likely role and relationship of values with sustainability performance, from a construction project (TMO) standpoint.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
- Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Engineering (CICE)