New Zealand's construction industry is vital to its economy and the social and economic well-being of its people. The country heavily relies on direct and indirect contributions of this industry for GDP growth, employment generation, and support to allied industries. However, the construction industry is struggling with declining productivity and faces various challenges at different levels, including but not limited to the inability to produce an adequate amount of affordable housing stock to overcome nationwide housing shortage, delivery of societal infrastructure to support communities, and poor performance of existing infrastructure services. Since the declining productivity of the construction industry results from a combination of factors like; operating in a traditional old school manner, reluctance by the industry to change, lack of innovation and new technologies, and upskilling of the construction workforce. Therefore, the transformation of this industry is inevitable.
The 6th New Zealand Built Environment Research Symposium (NZBERS) theme was "Transforming New Zealand construction through innovation and performance improvement". This symposium aimed to provide a platform for educators, industry practitioners, and researchers in the built environment sector to present and discuss current research that highlights the sophistication of current and future technology trends in the industry. Amongst the thirty-four (34) research projects presented during the symposium, three (3) papers were selected for this special issue. These papers represent the key areas of focus for the papers presented at the NZBERS 2020 symposium – Policies, Performance, and Affordable Housing.
The first paper highlighted the limitations of the government in enforcing post-disaster policies. The research investigated the New Zealand government's approach to rebuilding the city of Christchurch after the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes. With the use of interviews, the authors identified limitations to the government's rebuilding efforts, namely the absence of a proper legislative framework and ambiguity in defining recovery agents' roles and responsibilities. Other limitations included the time pressure to rebuild resulting in hasty planning, limited public involvement in rebuilding, and the lack of strategic relevance to ensure the outcomes are accepted by the public and fit with the city's image in the long run.
The second paper examined factors within and outside organisations that can influence organisational performance. The authors carried out a questionnaire survey on 100 professionals across New Zealand. They found that resources and capabilities, competitive strategies, organisational characteristics, environmental factors, and customer relationship management were the five main determinants of organisational performances within the construction industry. These factors were highlighted as valuable benchmarks for future research on the performance differentials experienced in the construction domain in New Zealand.
The third paper discussed housing affordability in New Zealand. The authors compared the Australian approach to reducing homelessness within the country with New Zealand's approach. Focusing on KiwiBuild, the paper discussed the reasons why the KiwiBuild programme failed and made recommendations based on policies used in Australia. According to the authors, New Zealand requires a balanced approach to the objectives of affordable housing policies and their outcomes. They posit the recommendations as helpful to develop workable policies to assist with affordable housing-related issues in New Zealand.
We appreciate the authors and the entire attendees to the NZBERS for their efforts. These articles are invaluable as they contribute to an endearing body of knowledge in the construction industry.
Dr Wajiha Mohsin Shahzad & Dr Eziaku Onyeizu Rasheed (Guest Editors)
School of Built Environment, Massey University. New Zealand