A case study of the impact of cultural differences during a construction project in Ghana

Alison Furber, Simon Smith, Martin Crapper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The lack of native engineers in developing countries means that often foreign engineers have a role to play in implementing the water and sanitation systems for rural communities as needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals targets for access to clean water and sanitation facilities. However, cultural differences between foreign engineers and local communities can lead to ineffective project management where these differences are not identified and managed successfully. A case study of a water and sanitation project undertaken in the Eastern Region of Ghana, with a British engineer and project manager, is used as the basis for exploration of some of the issues that arise when engineers work cross-culturally on this type of project. Hofstede's cultural dimensions are used as a conceptual paradigm through which to understand the behaviours and actions observed during the case study. The aim is to identify possible explanations for why cultural tensions arose during the project as a step towards understanding how these tensions might be reduced or eliminated in future projects in similar cultural contexts. It is found that cultural differences between engineer and community at the case study project led to issues with communication and implications for the effectiveness of different management structures. Findings may have broad relevance and help other engineers avoid some of the pitfalls of working in a cross-cultural context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ARCOM 28th Annual Conference
EditorsSimon Smith
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-0-9552390-6-9
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event28th Annual ARCOM Conference - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sep 20125 Sep 2012


Conference28th Annual ARCOM Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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