The Crisis Management Practices of Australian Construction Companies

M Loosemore, M.M.M Teo


Recent world events in the international relations arena and the subsequent knock-on affect on the insurance industry, have sent shock-waves through Australia’s business community,elevating crisis management to the top of the managerial agenda. This paperpresents the findings of exploratory research, which investigated the crisis managementpractices of construction companies. Using a diagnostic model of crisis preparednesswhich has been developed and tested across a broad range of industries, it concludes thatif the sample surveyed is typical, then crisis planning is rudimentary and undertaken in aninsular, informal, fragmented fashion, supported by few resources and little strategicguidance. Consequently, many construction companies will have an inadequate understandingof their crisis exposure, of how to cope with crises when they happen and of howto learn and recover from their aftermath.

Full Text:



Aguilera, D. C. and Messick, J. M. (1986) Cri-sis intervention: Theory and methodology. C V Mosby Company, St Louis, USA.

Allen, R. E. (1990) The Concise Oxford Dic-tionary of current English. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.

Argyris, C. (1990) Overcoming organisational defenses. Allyn and Bacon, London, UK.

Aspery, J. (1993) The media: friend or foe? Administrator 2 (2), 17â19.

Aspery, J. and Woodhouse, N. (1992) Strate-gies for survival. Management Services, 36 (11), 14â16.

Bea, R.G. (1994) The role of human error in design, construction, and reliability of ma-rine structures. Ship Structure Committee SSC-378, U.S. Coastguard, Washington, DC.

Best, R. L. (1977) Reconstruction of a tragedy: The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire. South-gate, KY: National Fire Protection Association.

Bobo, C. (1997) Hitachi faces crisis with text-book response. Public Relations Quarterly 42 (2), 18â21.

Brown, M. (1993) The disaster business. Management Today, October, 42â48.

Fink, S. (1986) Crisis management: Planning for the inevitable. American Management Association, New York, USA.

Frazer, N. M. and Hippel, K. W. (1996) Conflict analysis: Models and resolutions. North Hol-land, New York, USA.

Furze, D. and Gale, C. (1996) Interpreting managementâexploring change and com-plexity. International Thompson Business Press, London, UK.

Galbraith, J. R. (1977) Organisation design. Addison-Wesley, New York, USA.

Ginn, R. D. (1989) Continuity planning: Pre-venting, surviving and recovering from dis-aster. Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd, Oxford, UK.

Gonzalez-Herrero, A. and Pratt, C. B. (1995) How to manage a crisis beforeâor when-everâit hits. Public Relations Quarterly, 40 (1), 25â29.

Green, S. (1998) The technocratic totalitari-anism of construction process improve-ment: a critical perspective. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Manage-ment, 5 (4), 376â386.

Horlick-Jones, T. (1996) The problem of blame. In: Hood, C. and Jones, D.K.C. (eds) Accident and design: Contemporary debates in risk management. UCL Press, London, 61â70.

Irvine, R. B. (1997) What's a crisis anyway?: Surviving a business crisis. Glanbridge Pub-lishing Ltd, Illinios, USA.

Kutner, M. (1996) Coping with crisis. Occupa-tional Health and Safet, y 65 (2), 22â24.

Lawson, M. (2002) September 11 spurs new era for insurance. The Australian Financial Review, Wednesday 10th April.

Lerbinger, O. (1997) The crisis manager: Facing risk and responsibility. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, New Jer-sey, USA.

Loosemore, M. (2000) Crisis management in construction projects. American Society of Civil Engineers Press, New York, USA.

Mindszenthy, B. J., Watson, T. A. G. and Koch, W. J. (1988) No surprises: The Crisis communications management system. Bed-ford House Publishing Ltd, Ontario, Canada.

Mitroff, I. and Pearson, C. (1993) Crisis management: A diagnostic guide for im-proving your organisation's crisis prepared-ness. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Fransisco, USA.

Moodley, K. and Preece, C.N. (1996) Imple-menting community policies in the construc-tion industry. In: Langford, D.A. and Retik, A. (eds) The Organisation and Management of Construction. London: E and F N Spon: 178â86.

More, E. (1995) Crisis management and communication in Australian organisations. Australian Journal of Communication, 22 (1), 31â47.

Nicodemus, J. 1997. Operational crisis man-agement. Secured Lender 53 (6), 84â90.

Odeyinka, H. A. (2000) An evaluation of the use of insurance in managing construction risks. Construction Management and Eco-nomics, 18 (5), 519â525.

Osborne, R. L. (1991) Core value statements: the corporate compass. Business Horizons, September/October, 29â34.

Pascale, R. T. (1991) Managing on the edge. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, UK.

Pauchant, T. C. and Mitroff, I. (1992) Trans-forming the crisis-prone organisation: Pre-venting individual, organisational and environmental tragedies. Jossey-Bass Pub-lishers, San Fransisco, USA.

Pearson, C. M. and Clair, J. A. (1998) Re-framing crisis management. Academy of Management Review, 23 (1), 59â76.

Pearson, C. M., Misra, S. K., Clair, J. A. and Mitroff, I. (1997) Managing the unthinkable. Organisational dynamics, 26 (2), Autumn, 51â64.

Perrow, C. (1984) Normal accidents: Living with high risk technologies. Basic Books, Inc. Publishers, New York, USA.

Preece, C. N., Moodley, K. and Smith, A. M. (1998) Corporate communications in con-struction. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK.

Richardson, B. (1996) Modern manage-ment's role in the demise of a sustainable society. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 4 (1), March, 20â31.

Rubin, D. K., Campbell, J. and Lawson, M. (1988) From collapses to corruption: Manag-ing company crises. ENR, 11 (1), February, 28â37.

Seymour, D. and Rooke, J. (1995) The cul-ture of the industry and the culture of re-search. Construction Management and Economics, 13 (4), 511â523.

Sikich, G. W. (1993) It can't happen here: All hazards crisis management planning. PennWell Publishing Company, Oklahoma, USA.