A mixed methods study on choice of media influence on construction industry communication

Luciana de Cresce El Debs, Purdue University


This study focuses on the use of different communication media for solving problems in the construction industry. The focus of this research is on design-problems containing spatial information and are informally reported between site supervision and design professionals. Due to the fragmented nature of the construction industry, miscommunication is a well-known and common problem. Yet, this fragmented nature is necessary in order to build a complex product involving many different types of professionals. To better understand the issue, this study uses previous literature, such as those published on media richness theory, problem-solving strategy, and construction specific communications, in a three-phased sequential mixed-methods approach. The phases included an online survey with industry professionals (phase 1), interviews with industry professionals (phase 2), and a quasi-experiment (phase 3). Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed depending on the phase. Results indicate that construction industry communication relies strongly on face-to-face interaction, and telephone and email communications. The need for a `paper trail' is an important factor driving communication patterns. Finally, phase 3 suggested that communication media that allow for immediate feedback and visual cues are more helpful in solving design-problems containing spatial information. Based on these results, guidelines for effective use of different types of media in the construction industry were then developed as a final product of this study. These guidelines seek to improve awareness about the importance of effective communication in the construction industry.




Shaurette, Purdue University.

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