Document Detail

Title: SD-90 - The Future Needs of the Construction Industry's Worldwide Customers
Publication Date: 4/1/1993
Product Type: Source Document
Status: Archived Reference
Pages: 145
This publication has been archived, but is available for download for informational purposes only.

Halpin et al., Purdue Univ.
Order Now  


This report describes work performed under the supervision of the International Construction Task Force of the Construction Industry Institute (CII) relating to the needs of international clients for the year 2000 and beyond.

The premise of the study is that the best way to compete effectively in international markets is to satisfy the customers’ needs. To satisfy customers’ needs, they must be identified, and then strategic planning must be done to set a course towards meeting the appropriate objectives.


The objectives of this research were to:

  1. Identify significant trends related to the future needs of international client firms that use engineering and construction (E/C) services.
  2. Evaluate these trends, along with the plans and visions of E/C users for anticipating and meeting their customers’ needs.
  3. Draw conclusions concerning trends/key ideas for future international competitiveness.
  4. Make recommendations to E/C contractors on how they can better compete globally based on extrapolating from the experience of client firms and transferring that experience into the E/C industry context.

Identification of these trends and the interpretation of their implications for the E/C industry is designed to help U.S. contractors gain a competitive edge (and greater market share) as they incorporate this intelligence into their strategic planning. It will also provide creative seed ideas. The study reflects the creativity and vision of owners around the world.

Conclusions and Opportunities

The research conducted for the International Construction Task Force of CII has developed four important factors which will have significant impacts on the way in which E/C firms will operate in international markets in the future. The four factors are:

  1. International clients are downsizing and returning to core competency areas and utilizing outside sources for functions previously performed in-house.
  2. Clients are globalizing with expansion to global markets characterized by the development of culturally sensitive niche products.
  3. Expanding interest in quality has been triggered by the TQM movement and clients are increasingly sensitive to the importance of recognizing the needs of the customer both the immediate customer and the ultimate customer.
  4. International clients are extremely sensitive to environmental considerations and are emphasizing their social responsibility in the context of the movement towards sustainable development.

Working agreements and alliances with global E/C partners provide the following opportunities:

  1. As clients are planning to expand their global markets/operations, E/C firms will be able to provide a single point of contact for developing facilities in a given region.
  2. Regional partners will make it easier to enter a particular market and meet pre-qualification and other requirements.
  3. Regional partners will simplify the requirements to stylize support to be consistent with local codes and working practices.
  4. E/C alliances will provide the framework for the development of data transfer networks which will expedite the use of information technology and assist in transferring this technology to other regions.

Therefore, E/C firms who plan to work internationally must begin immediately to train staff in the vision of client firms and the new corporate culture which is developing in client firms. Unless the E/C firm can develop a similar view of the future and its role in serving clients within this new culture, it will not be able to develop a shared vision and will not be responsive to the needs of the client.

Actions which must be taken to be responsive to the changing corporate culture of international clients are:

  1. Study the vision and operating philosophy of client firms to identify the changes.
  2. Develop a company vision which is compatible with that of the clients being served.
  3. Prepare to assume functions previously carried out in house by the client’s staff, and contribute experience and expertise in support of the customer’s technology.
  4. Achieve an ability to develop improved project delivery systems which are innovative and provide the client the same level of quality at a cost including fee which is less than that presently possible using in-house resources.
  5. Develop a company quality philosophy and TQM plan which supports the quality objectives of the client.
  6. Study emerging technologies and act as an expert advisor to the client on issues which will allow the utilization of value adding innovative technology.
  7. Consider development of new technology by conducting R&D either singly or as a partner in a R&D consortium.
  8. Develop relationships with international E/C counterparts to proved support of clients on a global basis.
  9. Train staff to be sensitive to the client’s environmental, cultural, and quality requirements.
  10. Train staff to use the advantages of information technology in interacting with the client on a global basis.