The construction industries of developing countries : the applicability of existing theories and strategies for their improvement and lessons for the future : the case of Ghana
The evolution of ideas on socio-economic development is first considered to show that they were theoretical in the beginning, and tended to be generalised and accorded global applicability, but were revised as experiences in the developing countries increased knowledge of the development process. The nature of the construction industry and its role in development are next discussed, and the features of the task of improving it identified. It is observed that the industry faces problems in every country. In reviewing existing studies of the construction industries of developing countries, the similarity between their diagnoses of the problems and prescriptions for improvement are noted. Generally, they suggest that construction can constrain development and therefore it should be improved and expanded to avoid this. Main themes of current proposals for improving construction in developing countries are crystallised and compared with Ghana's experience in developing its industry between 1951 and 1979. After showing that Ghana has attempted to implement most of the current proposals without significant success, it is observed that certain socio-cultural, historical and political factors underlying the industry's problems and hindering their solution are often overlooked, and that the issue of improving construction is complex and variable. Furthermore, despite generally depressing conditions, and contrary to usual calls for new procedures and systems and additional resources, much can be gained by utilising existing institutions, arrangements and resources more effectively. The need for practical approaches is emphasised. A programme for improving Ghana's construction industry is formulated. Suggestions for modification of current ideas on the construction industries of developing countries are made, especially the need for strategies to be country-specific and dynamic, the importance of a time perspective, and the usefulness of according orders of priority to particular measures, and concentrating on those easiest to implement, or with greatest linkage effects.