Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mark Shaurette

Committee Chair

Mark Shaurette

Committee Member 1

Jenny L. Daugherty

Committee Member 2

Bryan Hubbard

Committee Member 3

Todd R. Kelley


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.