Contents list and editorila for ECAM issue 20.2

ECAM 20.2


Contents list


Neural network cost estimating model for utility rehabilitation projects

Tariq Shehab and Mohamad Farooq


Minimising Uncertainty in Long-term Prediction of Bridge Element

Jaeho Lee, Professor Michael Blumenstein, Hong Guan and Yew-Chaye Loo


Capital Project Performance Measurement and Benchmarking in Singapore

Bon-Gang Hwang, Hui Fang Tan, and Sowmya Sathish

An entry mode decision-making model for the international expansion of construction enterprises
Heng Li, Zhingang Jin, Vera Li, Guiwen Liu and R M Skitmore

Evaluating essential liabilities on design professionals under earthquake’s impact: Taiwan experience

Shih-hung Chang

Improving Performance of Construction Projects: A Project Manager's Emotional Intelligence Approach
Lianying Zhang
and Weijie Fan



ECAM 20.2 had seventeen authors produce the six papers published. The international distribution is 2 from the USA, 5 from Australia, 3 from Singapore, 3 from Hong Kong, 1 from Taiwan and 3 from China. One paper spans the international boundaries of Hong Kong, China and Australia and another one spans the organisational boundaries of a University, a Transport Authority and a consultant.

The mix of papers ranges from cost estimation of sewer rehabilitation projects, bridge deterioration modelling, the modelling of capital project performance, entry modes for construction companies involved in international expansion, the legal liabilities of designers and emotional intelligence in project managers.

The two papers that intrigued me the most were the legal liabilities and clear responsibilities of designers and the study on emotional intelligence of project managers.

On legal liabilities the recent case in Italy where six scientists were jailed for failing to predict an earthquake seemed an unbelievable court decision and is probably a commentary on the Italian legal system. How can scientists be legally liable for accurately predicting an earthquake? I don’t know. The paper in this issue deals with the competence of designers designing for earthquake conditions which is a much more predictable set of circumstances where the professionals need to be competent. Our designers are not being asked when the earthquake will occur but will the building stand when it does.

On the subject of emotional intelligence of project managers, I think we have a new field to play in. I can even see a future paper simply on the intelligence of project managers.

The papers in this issue are:

Shehab and Farooq present an artificial intelligence system for estimating costs of sewer rehabilitation projects. With data from 54 projects they identify 23 factors that impact on the cost of the projects. They then develop a neural network model to predict the cost of projects. They claim, amongst other things, that it improves the accuracy of estimates. The data source is the City of San Diego so the estimating being undertaken is for the client of the project. Clients have always used approximations based on past projects to estimate the cost. The real estimating of cost is undertaken by contractors and sub-contractors who go back to first principles of determining the usage of labour, plant, materials and sub-contractors in their cost estimating. Clients’ cost modelling has never been able to compete with such estimating as they lack the data, so they rely on models. The test as to whether this model serves its purpose will emerge in its use. Perhaps a later paper will update us.

Lee, Blumenstien, Guan and Loo are interested in developing reliable bridge deterioration models to predicting long term bridge performance. Their modelling technique is Time Delay Neural Networks and their data sources are biennial bridge inspection reports. The prediction reports are expressed in the same form as inspection reports. The model also acknowledges failure of critical elements and this reduces risk in long term predictions.

This is part of a long term study and I am sure we can look forward to updates as the modelling evolves with then experience gained.

Hwang, Tan and Sathish wish to determine the performance of capital projects and provide benchmarks. The authors surveyed 32 companies. The findings are that the contractors do not practice performance measurement on a regular basis and hence the use of benchmarks is low.

The authors have effectively established a skills gap amongst the Singapore contractors and I suspect a training need that the Universities could readily fill.

Li, Jin, Li, Liu and Skitmore study the entry modes for construction enterprises engaging in international expansion. The research aim is to provide a new type of entry mode decision-making model for construction enterprises involved in international business.

The modelling is basically analytical hierarchy process modified to include preference ranking. The proposed decision-making method is demonstrated to be a suitable approach to resolve the entry mode selection decision problem. The research identifies five determinants for selecting the entry mode.

Chang examines the legal liabilities on professional designers for buildings facing disaster risks such as earthquakes. The paper studies the number of architects or engineers who were sued, the time for appeal cases, the convictions or final judgements and the number of public or private projects filed.

This work based in Taiwan found that the legal burdens increased on professional designers following the Chi Chi Earthquake of 1999.

This is an interesting paper linking the technical activity of design to legal liability and making clear the responsibilities.

Zhang and Fan take us into the interesting area of a Project Manager’s emotional intelligence and the performance of construction projects. I think this is the first time that ECAM has had an article on emotional intelligence, so we are breaking new ground. The authors claim that emotional intelligence is largely unexplored in construction. Their data is from a survey of 112 project managers. Results indicate high expressions of six EI factors in project performance of large and complex scale; whereas the effects of self-confidence and teamwork have not been confirmed. Additionally, international involvement and contract type are found to moderate the relationships between certain EI factors and project performance.

The paper makes recommendations on selection and appointment of project managers to construction organizations; meanwhile it assists project managers in recognizing the significant competencies that cater for large and complex construction projects.

This seems to me to be a new field to explore and I am sure we will receive more papers on this.


Ronald McCaffer