Institutional determinants of construction safety management strategies of contractors in Hong Kong

Chuanjing Ju*, Steve Rowlinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Workplace safety in the construction industry of Hong Kong is regulated by a mix of enforcement and performance-based approaches. The two approaches are underpinned by different institutional structures and lead to divergent safety practices. To examine how contractors strategically respond to the complex institutional demands for safety performance, contractors' day-to-day site safety practices were investigated. Safety practice data were obtained from 62 open-ended interviews and project archives in a case study. Different supervision patterns, i.e. enforcement and localized approaches were found to coexist on site. Discrepancies were found between workers' self-reported safety awareness and safety awareness assessed by their supervisors. The evidence suggests that contractors implemented compromise and avoidance strategies. The complex institutional environment, especially the incompatible progress and safety requirements, was found to be a key determinant of mixed site safety practices. Institutional theory is explored as a possible theoretical perspective to explain contractors' safety management strategies. An institutional level change of safety management strategies is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-736
Number of pages12
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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