The informal leader's role on construction sites: A comparative analysis of formal and informal leadership structures within the construction industry


There are numerous causes of delays in productivity and efficiency on construction job sites, many of which stem from inadequate understandings of leadership characteristics and jobsite relationships. The focus of this study is to determine who construction personnel naturally seek advice from on a construction site when confronted with a situation that requires it. Additionally, this study seeks to establish a classification procedure for locating individuals towards whom those in need of leadership are naturally drawn. Four construction sites have been observed with the permission of each relative construction company. First the researcher attempted to collect observations of the frequency with which advice is sought. Each time advice was required on a construction site the researcher attempted to collect observations determining from whom the advice was asked and who asked the question. This was later revised into a one-on-one interview format. After substantial data for these variables were collected, characteristics of all participants were evaluated to form a system of classification for informal leadership. The characteristics that were examined include proximity, job title, experience, education, and age. It was expected that advice would be sought more often from those with various job titles who are older, have more experience, are close in proximity, and have higher education related to construction. This often appeared to be the case, except both higher titled formal leaders and informal leader had less formal education and more hands-on experience. Once the leadership structure of each jobsite had been evaluated, a comparison of the productivity of each of the companies associated with their respective jobsite was illustrated to determine whether informal or formal leadership structures were more effective in terms of the current status of product (determined by looking at the budget and schedule). Findings suggest informal leaders may be less efficient due to the lack of authority to make quick decisions. It was also determined that leaders are more effective when they are in a formal position of authority. The process developed assists in the discovery of where leadership truly lies on construction sites, allowing one to use this information to improve productivity and efficiency by maintaining relationships and promoting where necessary.

construction, informal leadership