Construction management

Essay Question:
Write a 2-3000 word essay critically analyzing two related strategic initiatives in a construction firm of
your choice.
An initiative is a discrete, practical activity designed to implement a broader strategic goals.
Both initiatives should be directed at the same firm level strategic goal.
For example, Health and Safety is a strategic goal; a target of zero accidents is an initiative; similarly,
sustainability is a strategic goal; sourcing FTC timber or reporting on client reduction to clients are


Identify a strategic goal and evaluate the implementation of two initiatives designed to address that
Do the two initiatives address the goal? What aspects do they address? What do they leave out?
What challenges does the implementation of the initiatives pose for the firm?
In your view, are the two initiatives likely to deliver on the strategic goal; why or why not?

Essay Guidlines:

To complete the essay your will need to:

1. Select an Architectural, Engineering or Construction firm for your case study.

2. The firm can be of any kind, but it will need to publish annual reports to do this assignment.

3. The construction sector includes four different, but related industries. In general, construction
sector firms can be classified as engineering consultancies, construction firms and material and
product suppliers. In addition there are a range of associated professional services. Make sure
that you are clear on what kind of firm you have selected and their relevant market.

4. Identify a strategic goal and two related initiatives
An initiative is a practical measure which has been designed to implement and meet the
strategic goal. The two related initiatives should address different aspects of the same problem
or challenge.
For example, employee development is a strategic goal; apprenticeship schemes and mentoring
day are two initiatives.

5. Use the firms own Annual Reports and CSR/Sustainability reports to identify the two initiatives.
6. Research the issue which the goal (and initiatives) has been developed to address.
To research the issue you will need to look outside of firm documents to sources about the sector
as a whole.

7. Research the goal and the two initiatives and evaluate them

Things to consider include:
– The fit of the strategic goal which you have selected with the firm’s values, history,
commitments, other goals etc.
– The challenge of implementation. What issues will implementation of the initiatives involve?
– What impact are the two initiatives likely to have? Who will they effect? How? What problems
would you expect to arise? What issues will the firm need to address to make sure that the
initiatives are successful? etc

Students may use these headings or develop headings which better reflect the content of the section.
 Title. The essay MUST have a title which reflects the content of your essay. Please note: an
essay is NOT an exam question, do NOT use the assignment brief or essay question as your title.
 Introduction. The introduction describes your topic and tells the reader what you are going to
do. It ends with a summary of your main point (in this case, your evaluation of the firm’s
implementation of a strategic goal)
 Background. Describe the problem or issue which the firm is addressing with its strategic goal.
This may include the political, social and economic context s and other sector level information
 Firm – describe the firm which you have selecgted. Focus on those features which are relevant
to evaluate the implementation of the strategic goal. This may include firm values , its
organization and structure, its stakeholders etc. Do NOT provide general information about the
firm which is un-releated to the topic of your essay. If you take information from the annual
report, make sure that you reference it and that you analyse it critically (remember, the annual
report is was written for a particular audience and is designed to put the firm in the best light
possible, don’t present it as fact, unless there is supporting evidence).
 Firm Strategy and Initiatives – describe the firm’s strategic goal which you have selected and
the two initiatives which you have selected. (NOTE: the background section should discuss the
issue in general, this section should discuss the problems it poses for the firm, firm level drivers
and the firm’s way of seeing it and addressing it
 Discussion – evaluate the implementation of the strategy, drawing on information introduced in
the previous sections. It is NOT usual to introduce new information into the discussion section.
Extra points will be granted for students who use the different approaches discussed in class to
evaluate the initiative. These include: Rational Planning, Market positioning, Resource Based
Views, Dynamic Capabilities, Strategic Human Resource Management, Corporate Sustainability
(Corporate Social Initiatives, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance,
Please note all of these approaches are both descriptions of what firms do and prescriptions of
what they could or should do to succeed. Make sure you are clear about which aspect you are
using as you write!
 Conclusion – conclude the essay with your answer to the essay question. For extra credit,
identify points for further research and recommendations to the firm


Please note that the corporate report will not provide all of the information which you need to write the
essay. It’s your job to research the the issue and the firm.
Relevant sources include the firm’s website, Building Magazine and Construction News, government and
industry reports (try searching on Construction Information Service – CIS) and academic articles (try
searching on the ARCOM website)

All claims (including information taken from annual reports) MUST be referenced.
All direct quotes must be referenced with a reference AND page number or indication of the webpage,
URL and date it was consulted.
All images and diagrams must be referenced.

The first word of an in-text citation MUST match the first word of the corresponding bibliographic
reference at the end.
The bibliography MUST include every rererence cited and be in alphabetical order.
For the purposes of this essay, you can cite textbooks. Do not cite lecture notes or slides.

For the font, use 12 pt.
1.5 or double-spacing
2.5 margines

Assessment Criteria

Research (knowledge and information about issues raised in the essay,
breadth of sources consulted, use of sources) 30%

Coherence and Scope (essay poses a problem/question and develops
an argument in response; discussions are relevant to the question and
build on one another; essay follows proposed structure; content of each
section corresponds to the headings)

Critical Analysis (demonstrates independent thought; evaluates
sources and incorporates evaluation into discussion , relates case study
to themes in the module and uses criticisms of theories to critique the

Presentation, Referencing and Bibliography (professional, clean
presentation, relevant points referenced; in text citations supported by
bibliographic entry; referencing formatted using the Harvard style)


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