AN INVESTIGATION ON THE IMPACT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE ON THE PERFORMANCE OF CONSTRUCTION FIRMS IN KENYA (CASE STUDY OF FIRMS IN NAIROBI COUNTY)

ABSTRACT
The poor performance of the Kenyan construction industry has been a recurring theme after many projects have failed to live up to or exceed the expectations of clients. This is highly evidenced by delays occurring in many projects and the continued preference of foreign contractors by the government and international organizations due to their exemplary delivery of large scale projects and timely discharge of contracts. There is a shared belief that organizational culture in any given construction firm in one of the aspects that influence their level of performance in projects. However, culture in the construction industry is often linked with attributes such as antagonism, fragmentation, poor communication, blame culture and short term memory. These elements are associated with results like inferior quality, poor health and safety measures as well as litigation. With such associations being helpful in focusing attention on the numerous failures in the industry, and pointing out the aspects that need major improvements, they are usually only based on unreliable evidence, and thus do not offer a sufficient basis for evaluating the actual impact of culture on performance. This investigation was therefore undertaken to provide evidence of a relationship between performance outcomes of construction firms and cultural orientations.
While adopting a social cognitive theory which defines culture as the alignment of various solutions embodied in behaviours, conditions and attitudes, a quantitative research methodology was adopted during the investigation. The firms were profiled according to selected variables in order to determine their cultural orientations. Several performance variables were assessed and their relationship with cultural orientations analyzed. The analysis revealed four principal culture dimensions along which construction firms operate. These dimensions are the Market, Clan, Adhocracy and Hierarchy cultures. All the four dimensions were found to significantly affect performance outcomes. Though causality should not be easily assumed, these findings support the hypothesis that culture matters as pertaining to the performance and timely delivery of projects by construction firms. It is therefore suggested that construction industry stakeholders – and in particular contractors, devote more resources and efforts towards improving the cultural orientations of their organizations in respect of the identified dimensions of culture in order to improve performance outcomes.