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Jihad Aysh

DBA Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

An Integrated Framework for Productivity Analysis and Improvement in Oil and Gas Construction Projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Klas Soderquist
The purpose of this study is to identify factors that impact oil and gas construction project productivity and link the results with management practices. More precisely, root causes for low productivity and means for improving productivity are investigated, leading to the development of an integrated productivity management model. Productivity improvement in the oil and gas construction industry can lead to huge savings on the cost of such projects, thus contributing to maintaining the supply of oil and gas to meet continuously increasing global demand and, in addition, developing better technical and environmental solutions for the best possible development of the sector. All previous studies about oil and gas construction productivity were conducted in the last 40 years but have not assessed much the impact of management strategies and practices on productivity. However, resent research shows that as much as 90% of the project interruptions are under the responsibility of management. This shows the importance of addressing systematically the topic. A literature review, focused on productivity in large-scale construction projects, was performed, leading to the identification of four areas of productivity determinants, namely Strategic, Process & System, Human Resources, and Leadership & Management. An important number of factors were identified, assigned to these areas and conceptualized into a research model that was used to develop detailed questions to address to informants. A single case study approach was selected. The studied company is Saudi Aramco, the dominating oil and gas Exploitation Company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the largest oil producing company in the world. The size, significance and dominance of Saudi Aramco justifies a single case approach, as data also was collected from a range of complementary sources including survey, interviews, document analyses and Contractors to the Company. The main source of data is in-depth interviews with project managers and other key stakeholders in leading positions. The interviews were preceded by a questionnaire to enable triangulation of the findings, enhance their reliability, and cover the broadest possible range of productivity problems. Hence, the research relies on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology and analysis, with emphasis on the first. The central result of the research is the development of an integrated model for oil and gas construction project productivity management, grounded in the qualitative data collected. It structures the areas into specific categories following the Paradigm Model of qualitative data analysis; Project Strategizing comprises factors that act as causal conditions determining productivity results; Processes and Systems comprise factors that build the context in which productivity is determined; Project Leadership & Management and Project Human Resources comprise factors that act as intervening conditions shaping the way productivity can be managed for improved results and avoidance of those issues that create productivity problems. Related to the existing literature the major theoretical contributions lie in the model showing inter-relations between factors, and simultaneous attention that needs to be paid to factors of communication, scheduling, constructability and contractor evaluation when contracts are written, negotiated and implemented. Further it is shown that productivity follows project life cycle, delays is a major productivity breaker, changes throughout the project cycle requires continuous learning, and supervisors must not only be rightly qualified but also have the appropriate management style to ensure motivation and appropriate contribution from all involved in the project implementation. A new productivity definition applicable to the oil & gas industry is also proposed. At the level of managerial implications, the model can act as a road map for managing and improving pro