Using evolutionary game theory to study construction safety supervisory mechanism in China

Xiaoyan Jiang*, Haoyu Sun, Kun Lu, Sainan Lyu, Martin Skitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In China, external supervision on construction safety mainly comes from the government and supervision engineers (SEs). However, the construction safety supervisory mechanism (CSSM) contains some dilemmas affecting the improvement of safety performance, such as the declining impact of SEs, the increasing rent-seeking behaviors of contractor and excessive government interference. This study aims to depict and analyze the CSSM in China from an evolutionary game view. The objectives are to understand the supervision strategy and evolutionary behaviors of different stakeholders, propose suggestions for improving safety performance and help the key safety supervision stakeholders, especially the government, formulate a suitable safety supervision strategy. Design/methodology/approach: This research uses tripartite dynamic evolutionary game theory to study the CSSM in China and solve the stable equilibrium solution using system dynamics. Findings: This study has revealed the game relationship of construction safety supervision mechanisms in China and solved the stable equilibrium solution. The results prove that a supervision engineer (SE) plays a crucial role in the CSSM, and “supervision engineer useless” is an unreasonable assertion. For government supervision agency (GSA), excessive inspection and free-market regulation are neither wise strategies. GSA can reduce the inspection frequency when general contractors (GCs) input high safety investments and SEs implement responsible supervision. But keeping proper government supervision to avoid GC's unlawful behaviors and SE's rent-seeking is indispensable. In addition, excessive governmental supervision will weaken SE's role, so the government should transfer some supervision powers to SE. Originality/value: This study focuses on the dynamic evolution process between GSA, GC and SE. This method is different from most research that neglected the dynamic characteristic of system and game solution stability. The research methods not only contribute to construction safety supervision policy-making in China but also help to improve supervision efficiency in other countries and other fields.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


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