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Controlling the Risk of Construction Delay in the Middle
East: State-of-the-Art Review
Omayma Motaleb and Mohammed Kishk
Scott Sutherland School,
The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
United Kingdom
Email: oh motaleb@ rgu. ac. uk; m. kishk@ rgu. ac. uk
The construction business has been at serious risks to the recent global economic
recession. In the Middle East, the investments in this business have reached US $1.8
trillion in 2008, which is forming about 25% of the construction volume worldwide.
The financial crisis in the late 2008 has braked up the economic development in many
infrastructure sectors. Consequently, the investors unable to keep their confidence in the
construction business. The delay in the construction projects is one of the highest risks
versus the project success criteria. The three traditional elements of time, cost, and
quality are not sufficient since the construction projects are more complex by a change
of business environment. The objective underpins this research is to conduct a literature
review to identify additional effective measures for controlling the potential delay risks
to maximize the opportunity of success in construction projects. Thirty-six scholarly
research studies published between 2000 and 2011 have been surveyed to identify
related measures for delay control (MDC). The literature survey revealed that 60% of
the studies are related to decision-making, performance, risk management variations,
and poor management knowledge of stakeholders, whereas 20% are in the Middle East.
25% of the studies are related to lacking of financial risk by stakeholders, which
represent 14% in the Middle East. The knowledge gap has been identified in project
performance, stakeholders management, and risk management as significant measures
of success criteria in controlling project delay.
measures of delay control, risk management, project management, stakeholders, Middle
1 Introduction
Construction delay is ubiquitous in the Middle East construction business, as well as
considered as one of the highest risks to the project success. This phenomenon is largely
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owing to its overlapping with the roles and interests of the project stakeholders in a
multicultural society. The stakeholders have long been involving in the construction
projects as either individuals or organisations; moreover, their interests might be
affected positively or negatively according to the success or failure of the project
completion.(PMI, 1996). Mitchell et al (1997) argued that a project manager should have
to understand the characteristics of the power and authority of the stakeholders that largely
affect the project environment and outcomes. Therefore, it would be significant to carry out
the identification and management of the stakeholders throughout the running project since
their nature and numbers could vary with the life-cycle of the project (Moodley, 2002).
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Accordingly, the stakeholders should update their respective commitments and
satisfaction, and hence the project success.
Risk management is the most crucial practice in the management of any project to
warrant its successful completion. Royer (2000) expressed the importance of risk
management experience, as Experience in the risk management must be of critical
concern to the project managers and the like in the project network since ill-managed
risks are one of the primary causes of project failure". Unfortunately, many project
stakeholders and contributors have not realized yet the need for risk assessment
knowledge, which is a key element in the risk-management process; whereas some of
them believe that, the risk identification comes by trial and error experience. However,
the trivial risk knowledge is usually cascading as a common term among the
construction community of the stakeholders.
Artto et al (2008) defined risk from project management perspective as An uncertain
event or condition (favourable or unfavourable) that results from the network form of
work, having an impact that contradicts expectations. An event is at least partially
related to other actors in a network. Referring to this definition, four risk-source
categories have been identified based on the project sub-contractors interrelations with
i-other sub-contractors, ii-clients, iii-external competitors, and iv-non-business actors
such as municipality and other area authority (Artto et al, 2008). On the other hand, lack
of professional managerial knowledge and skills might cause unavoidable risk
management failure (Klemetti, 2006). The risk of construction project cancellation and
delay in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai has evoked many worries on the
investors to go further in construction business (Wilson, 2010).
Project delays would be a major negative impact on the stakeholders whose economic
activities have been overwhelmed. In the Middle East, the situation is notably
dissatisfied. The stakeholders are being criticised as they are not dynamically and
coherently of delay control, which requires an important approach to the project
success. The risks of the project delays have been investigated in many Middle Eastern
countries such as Jordan (Odeh and Battaineh, 2002; Sweis et al, 2008), Kuwait
(Koukshi et al., 2004; 2005), Saudi Arabia (Assaf and Al-Hejji, 2006), the UAE (Faridi
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and El-Sayegh, 2006; Motaleb and Kishk, 2010), Oman (Al-Nuaimi et al. 2010), and
Iran (Khoshgoftar et al., 2010). These studies focused entirely on the delay causes and
effects rather than on the control aspects. On the other hand, the recent global financial
crisis has braked up the construction boom leading to postpone and cancellation of
running construction projects. This financial situation created a great dilemma of project
delay and shortage in cash liquidity leading the stakeholders to delay the payments to
the developers of the real estates (Khamis and Senhadji, 2010).
The key objective of the delay control management is to minimise the risk versus
maximise the opportunities of successful completion of a project. If the target of success
is going to be maintained by the stakeholders management and satisfaction, it would be
interesting enough for those responsible in formulating projects, as well as for those
who initiating projects for the first time. In this study, a number of significant measures
for delay control (MDC) were picked out from thirty-six scholarly studies published
between 2000 and 2011, with special concern on those studies treated the effects of the
recent global financial crisis on the situation of construction projects. We hope that this
study to encourage further comprehensive research in the future. The paper is organised
as following: Section. 2 discusses the stakeholders management and satisfaction beyond
the traditional criteria. Section. 3 outlines the adopted research methodology, which is
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seeking to improve the stakeholders management in a positive way, as well as to
identify a number of measures for delay control (MDC) to bridge the knowledge gap in
the traditional criteria of time, cost and quality. Section. 4 discusses the findings to
provide a constructive conclusion and recommendation for further related studies in
Section. 5. A list of the cited references is appeared in Section. 6.
2 Beyond the Traditional Criteria and Stakeholders Satisfaction
Although a widely accepted of the traditional criteria on project success the last couple
of decades, the construction project management is slowly departing from the traditional
criteria (time, cost and quality) measures to a rather effective measures, since criticisms
on the traditional criteria and featured by the heterogeneous, while the criteria meeting
resources constrains, the components of time, cost and quality are one thing, and to
meet specifications is another (Shenhar et al., 1997). Alarcon et al. al (1998) criticised
the criteria as well as not appropriate for long term improvement and arrive too late to
correct actions to justifying the ability of effective quality. In addition, no longer can
project success be restricted by the traditional criteria only (Low and Chuan, 2006); it is
lacked of efficiency when Dweiri (2006) looked crucially at the basic criteria as internal
measures of project management efficiency.
It is noted to approaching the efficiency, the projects should be measured by the degree
of managing risks, since the stakeholders conflicting interests has different views in
project success perception and satisfaction (Bryde and Brown, 2005), considering the
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state of the stakeholders and their degree of influence in the project. Besides, the
significant knowledge in which area the stakeholders are willing to accept risks, this
could help the risk response strategy (Mulcahy, 2005), as well as managing and register,
risks in an innovated framework will help a continuous building of stakeholders
knowledge (William, 2008).
2.1 Significance of MDC and Project Success
The most important outcome that should be observed on the success criteria of the
project is the degree of influential variables that related to the performance, decision-
making and variations by stakeholders. Performance mainly stands as a motivated
measure into the traditional components, cost benefits saving (Beathamet al., 2004),
early completion (Chan and Chan, 2004), improve quality (Ling et al., 2009) when
conflicts are often due to stakeholders dissatisfaction of poor quality of work.
According to the changing of buildings functions and demands, the performance is one
of the most important in project management and should be tailored and innovated for
every project (Toor and Ogunlana, 2010). The satisfaction of project performance is a
strategic stance in a world of hyper-competition, this has been considered since
construction projects suffer from delay and budget overrun. Moreover, powerful of
construction organization should compete to win the market place and create values for
their stakeholders (Shenhar, 2004). Studies should be concentrated in more depth of
stakeholders performance, management and perception of risk assessment. Landin
(2000) considered to gain long-term of construction project performance, the
stakeholders satisfaction is crucial. As well as effective communications management
(Bakens et. al, 2005 and Young, 2006).
Empowerment of stakeholders decision-making was encouraged previously in
different environment in project management, but it is limited under project
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management authority. It is more valuable for stakeholders to set their goals and keep
inventories, such managerial function and plan innovation come from motivated
stakeholders or teams that impact on the decision-making effectiveness. Moreover,
affect completing projects on time, budget and within specifications (Barber and Warn,
2005). A significant historical information and knowledge has been used to improve
decision-making and the outcome of project control (Albinoet, al., 2002) as well.
Variations/change orders have enhanced projects delays by clients, contractors or other
stakeholders that emerged for number of reasons such as user change orders in Jordan
(Al-Momani, 2000), excusable delay by clients and consultants (Memon, 2004),
excessive client change orders in UAE (Motaleb and Kishk, 2010), change orders in
Oman by the client and consultants (Alnuaimi et al. 2010), the most effect are the
schedule delay, stakeholders conflicts and cost overrun. Some efforts by Arain (2005)
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have secured the base of knowledge management during the earlier stages of a project life
cycle, mean that the greatest requirement for effective variations management.
In addition, the financial measure as a loss of potential revenue, it can be contributed by
any of stakeholders, clients (Al-Khalil and Al-Ghafly, 1999; Assaf and Al-Hejji, 2006).
The clients payment delay, contractor poor cash flow (Ahmed 2003, Harris and
McCaffer, 2003, Construction Industry Working Group on Payment, 2007). As well as
bankers, quantity surveyors, architects, consultants and other constructions parties may
affect direct or indirect in the process of payment claim, the invalid contractors claim,
certification delay by consultants, poor work valuation and insufficient documents as
well as involving too many stakeholders for honour certification process and heavy
works on consultant to work on evaluations. Besides, influences of financial crisis
(2008-2010) on the Middle East. Constraints of the cash flow that led to delay of
payments (Arabic institutions for strategic researches, 2009).
Inflations, and financial market instability lead to cash flow issues (Ahmed, 2003), lack
of funding programmes (Adul-Rahman, 2006). That is what happened in the Middle
East where the financial resources are affected by the recent Global financial crisis,
difficulties to get and approve loans (Khamis and Senhadji, 2010). Similarly, the impact
of crisis on the GCC real estate markets, stakeholders (developers) in financial bodies are
among the largest openly scheduled companies in Arab markets, and both were adversely
affected by the recession. In addition, increasing of real estate prices in the Middle East had
ended by 2008 and the average inflation has estimated to decline from 10.8% in 2008 to 3.7% in
2009 (Habibi, 2009). In turn, speculations decreased in mortgage payment, and as a result, many
banks came under financial distress.
3 Research Methodology
A literature review has been undertaken for identifying the gaps in delay control and
project success. Thirty-six published research studies have been surveyed, which
appeared in scholarly and refereed journals in construction projects areas. Some non-
conventional documents have also been surveyed such as dissertations, technical
reports, working papers, as well as from authenticated websites as listed in Table. 1.
Excel spread sheet was used to analysing the data observed.
Table (1) Measures for delay control (MDC)
No Studies/Country
MDC Tools Research
Causes and effects of
Impact on
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1 Ng, et. al, 2000/
Hong Kong
A Conceptual Case-
Based Decision Model
for Construction Delays
Quantitative Slow-decision by
for inexperience
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(Asia) Mitigation (Group 1) planner-
2 Odeh and
(Middle East)
Contract performance
(Group 1&2)
Owner interference,
inadequate contractor,
financial, labour
productivity slow
minimize owner
labor and finance
3 Aibinu and
Acceleration of site
activities, &contingency
allowance (Group3)
Client related delay Eliminate time
4 Shenhar et al.,
Risk Identification
, probabilistic risk
&trade off (Group 1)
(100 projects)
Time overrun, Improve Risk
5 Fernie et al, 2003 Knowledge sharing
Leason learned
6 Nguyen,
Comfort, competence
and Commitments
(COMs)(Group 1)
Complexity of
projects (many
knowledge in
project handling-
7 Lee et al., Aug.
Dynamic Planning and
management (DPM) for
Project change
management (Group 1)
(case study)
Concurrent design
changes and their
subsequentimpacts on
project performance
Cost and
schedule control-
8 Lee et al., Nov.
Converted Lost
productivity into Delay
(case study)
Lost productivity Settlement of
schedule delay-
9 Arain,
decision support system
Owner and contractor
related project
Control variation
orders and
improve decision-
10 Oliveros, 2005
Fuzzy logic model
time overrun Updating project
11 Koushki,
(Middle East)
Adequate funds, good
allocation of time and
money, competent
consultants and
Time delay and cost
Minimize time
and cost overrun
12 Wang and Haung,
criterion (Group 1)
Poor stakeholders
Maximize Owner
and organisation
13 Shahalizadeh and
, 2006/Iran (Middle
Waste Time and cost Lesson learnt
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Table (1) Continue Measures for Delay Control (MDC)
No Studies/Country
MDC Tools Research method Causes and
effects of delay
Impact on stakeholders
14 Abdul-Rahman et.
method (Group1)
Quantitative Uncertainty and
more variables
15 Zaneldin,
(Middle East)
The Negotiation
used to resolve
claims (Group 1).
Quantitative (124
Excessive client
Avoiding disputes,
good knowledge from
past projects;
cooperation by risk
philosophy between the
client and
the contractor
16 Arditi and
n, 2006/N/A
Selection of proper
delay analysis
Exploratory (20
researches from
Time overrun Availability of
scheduling data-
17 Oladapo, 2007 N/A Variations
(questionnaire and
Time and cost
managing variations
18 Zeng et. al., 2007 Fuzzy reasoning
techniques of Risk
Exploratory Uncertainty risk assessment
19 Abdul-Rahman, et.
al (2008)/
Malaysia (Asia)
Conceptual delay
mitigation model
using a project
learning approach
in practice
developed model,
case studies,
Poor project
Improve knowledge,
positive schedule and
20 Luu et al., 2008
Bayesian belief
networks (Group2)
expert interviews,
case studies)
difficulties by
owner &
contractor, &
shortage of
Financial and time
development for
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21 Abdul-Rahman et
al. 2009/Malaysis
Well managed cash
flow by
banks (Group2)
Quantitative Financial related
factor by Client
Prompt payment
22 Tumi et al.,
Risk Management
coordination and
23 Mulcahy, 2009 Corrective action
Exploratory from
Field experience
Activity longer
project close to
24 Motaleb,
(Middle East)
Management and
Control Solution
Lack of Risk
Improve Risk
25 Motaleb and
Kishk, 2009/UAE
(Middle East)
Client and project
team training
Excessive client
Improve client decision
making and reduce
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26 Said, 2009/Saudi
(Middle east)
Corrective action
(Literature, case
Rework that
caused time and
cost overrun
Control Performance
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Table (1) Continue Measures for delay control (MDC)
No Studies/Country
MDC Tools Research method Causes and
effects of delay
Impact on stakeholders
27 Thanh and
Dapice, 2010
Controlling and
Preventing delay
of Sub-Project-
(Group 3)
Exploratory (case
Poor planning
and controlling,
poor finance
Time delay overcome and
efficiency during construction
28 Preston M.,
(Middle east)
damages for
(Group 1&2)
Financial (2010
gulf Recession)
Adjust the contractor finance
risk and performance obligations
29 Omran et. al.,
Working drawing
stage solve
(Group 1)
related factor
and Owners
slow decision
Preconstruction knowledge
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30 Olawale and
Sun, 2010/UK
corrective and
(Group 1&3)
Design changes
time duration,
Improve the effectiveness of
project control (Cost and time
31 Manase,
The Private
Finance Initiative
(Group 1&2)
(literature review)
related crisis
Client positioning in term of risk
32 Hasna A. and
Raza S.,
(Middle east)
Project Portfolio
(Group 2)
Good knowledge of financial
33 Arditi et al.,
Lesson learned
(Group 1)
Design related
Avoiding the same mistakes in
the past projects-improve
34 Brendel et al.,
(Middle East)
Set up qualified
civil rights for
contractors to
assured payment
for work
(Group 1&2)
knowledge to civil code, and
code provisions
35 Al Tmeemy et
al., 2010
product & market
success measures
(Group 1)
(postal &e-mail
Failure in
(cost, time and
Long-term project success
36 Abdul-Rahaman
et al., 2011
Cash flow
(Group 2)
Prompt payments by client
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4 Findings and Discussion
Typical results of the study are summarised in Table. 1. It can be seen that the MDC
was 3% in 2000, 8% in 2002 paced back in 2003 and 2004 by 3%. In 2005-2006,
measures have improved by 14% and 16% respectively; and decreased again by 6% in
2007, and 3% in 2008. Effort of attractive studies was clearly improved in 2009 and
2010, by 19% to31%, respectively, as illustrated in Figure. 1:
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The MDC has been grouped; Group 1 includes decision-making, performance,
variations and risk management, Group 2 for the financial risks and Group 3 for the
traditional measures, time, cost and quality.
About 60% studies (2000-2011) are related to stakeholders management and
knowledge in variations, decision-making, but very limited in risk management and
performance issues (Group1), 30% was pointed out in (2008-2011).
Group 2 is about 25% related to financial risk; one-fifth in (2008-2011) was coincided
by financial crisis, which is not satisfied by this phenomenon.
The rest of 15% implicates the third group that related to the traditional criteria (time,
cost, quality).
Geographically, it is noticed that in Figure. 2:
About 60% studies have been focused on the level of stakeholders management
(Group1) in Global including the Middle East, 25% in the Middle East.
25% are indicated measures related to Group2. Financial risk in Global including the
Middle East experienced about 14% exclusively in the Middle East, and15% for the
traditional measures in Global.
As a result:
The highest rank of MDC issues of construction project are related to stakeholders lack
of management and knowledge in risk management, performance, variations and
decision-making, ordered from higher to lower priority followed by the financial risk, as
illustrated in Figure. 2.
In general, top gap of knowledge in risk management and performance has showed that
the stakeholders have to think beyond the traditional measures particularly in the Middle
East region. The research suggests that Fig. 3 should be considered as a new model of
MDC and project success. There are three levels at which the MDC should be looked at:
Issues related to the stakeholders management in more depth of knowledge for
satisfaction and conforms to approve success in traditional criteria (time, cost and
quality). It is a possibly questionable when the project is assigned to be successful, it
does offer i-stakeholders satisfaction, ii-quality of performance, and iii-advanced
knowledge in risk assessment and management. Similarly, it is unlikely to control the
project delay if the stakeholders management is not ensured in the traditional criteria.
On the other hand, the mind-set of the performance management should be transformed
from the functional to strategy focused, and this should be improved by governmental
organisations such as Municipalities.
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From the authors point of view, additional measures may formulate a good dependency
of relationship and interaction; predict changes in early stages can minimize the
disruptive/risk effects. Moreover, save time for risk assessment to be identified from the
source, it helps the project team in decision-making and consequently develops the
project performance. Consequently as a result, conforms to stakeholders expectations.
Figure (1): Measures for delay control (MDC)(2000-2010)
Figure (2): Measures for Delay Control (MDC) in the Middle East &others in Global
Framing of Risk
Framing of
Framing of
Quality COST
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Figure (3): The Proposed Future Model for MDC and Project Success
5 Conclusions and Further Research
A critical literature review has been carried out to identify gaps in handling construction
delays. The research gaps are identified as:
The risk management factors that might affect the success of stakeholder management
have not fully developed yet. Most of the studies were focused largely on the
stakeholders management concerning control risk of delays. However, a few studies
were dealt with the stakeholders perception of risk assessment as a source that
generates possible events and responses, and the principals of delay control in risk
management measure.
A range of practical approaches such as in-depth investigation and integration has to be
used for the quality of project performance but has not yet fully considered.
A framework was proposed for structuring effective measures for delay control by
conducting effective risk management, stakeholder management and project
performance gap of knowledge. The findings provide empirical evidence on the context-
specific feature of construction delay in the Middle East, particularly in the value of
project nature and objectives. These findings help to take the scope of the research one
step up along the pathway towards understanding of project success process in different
environment although limitations in past studies implicate improper validation of delay
control measures.
This study reflects the general view, but needs in-depth investigation in the primary
stage. In future, similar studies could be conducted in other regions to validate and
compare with the preliminary finding in this paper.
A conducting research of a PhD is on progress to managing the risk of construction
projects delays effectively in the United Arab Emirates.
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