Author: Saka, Abdullahi Babatunde
Title: BIM divide : a hybrid approach to the adoption and implementation of BIM by construction small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries - the case of Nigeria
Advisors: Chan, W. M. Daniel (BRE)
Siu, Francis (BRE)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2022
Subject: Building information modeling -- Nigeria
Construction industry -- Information resources management -- Nigeria
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xxxiv, 407 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry has a low level of productivity growth and is relatively slower to adopt innovations and changes. Various industry reports have emphasized the need for the AEC industry to adopt an integrated approach to improving efficiency and productivity. One of the most popular approaches in recent times is the emergence of Building Information Modelling (BIM) which has become a centrepiece digital-enhanced approach in the AEC Industry. Governments, consultants and construction organisations, and various key stakeholders in the AEC industry have been pushing for its wide adoption. However, the adoption rate of BIM is slower than expected in the AEC Industry. Thus, governments have been promulgating effective policies to mandate BIM implementation on projects through providing subsidies and support for BIM to users.
Despite these dedicated efforts, there has been a growing discourse about BIM causing divides in the already fragmented construction industry. The divide is said to be deepening between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large firms, and between developed and developing countries, because of inequalities of access to BIM. The SMEs which account for more than 80% of the firms in the AEC industry and serve as its backbone are slow to adopt BIM. The SMEs in developed countries where there is government support for BIM adoption have been reported to be facing profound challenges. Consequently, the SMEs in developing countries where there are no financial support and implementation policies for BIM are on the most disadvantageous side of the BIM divide. These countries are often referred to as BIM infant countries due to the nascent status of BIM adoption in their AEC industry.
Extant research studies have highlighted that SMEs can adopt BIM and benefit from its implementation on projects under the right contextual conditions. However, there has been an underrepresentation of the SMEs' perspective in the literature. This is surprising as the SMEs must be BIM compliant for the proliferation of BIM usage in the AEC industry due to their population and significance. Thus, this study aims to examine the right contextual conditions for the adoption and implementation of BIM in SMEs with the view of providing strategic decision support and developing adoption models. The scope of the study mainly focuses on BIM infant developing countries and the Nigerian Construction Industry is adopted as a case study with practical applications to other BIM infant developing countries.
To achieve the stated research aim, a sequential approach was employed to plan the study from a broad scope to the case study. The following research objectives were set out below:
1. To examine the digital divide of BIM adoption in the AEC Industry.
2. To assess and contrast the drivers of and barriers to BIM adoption between SMEs and large firms, and between developing and developed countries.
3. To evaluate the drivers of and barriers to BIM adoption in the SMEs of the Nigerian construction industry.
4. To evaluate and predict the BIM adoption process in the Nigerian construction SMEs.
5. To identify the decision-making factors and develop a knowledge-based decision support system (KBDSS) for BIM implementation on SME projects.
Objective #1 was achieved by espousing the digital divide concept from the information technology discipline, which was then contextualized to conceptualize BIM-Divide. The BIM-Divide depicts the digital divide of BIM adoption through four categories of motivational, physical, skills, and usage access. An empirical questionnaire was developed for the BIM-Divide, piloted, and administered via an international survey in the AEC Industry. A total of 228 responses from 26 countries across the 6 continents of the world was retrieved and analysed empirically using the Generalized Structured Component Analysis (GESCA). The findings underscore the need to rethink BIM adoption as a multi-faceted and dynamic process against the extant static two-tiered representation. It highlights a notable BIM divide between firms in developed and developing economies. The findings necessitate further scrutiny of the effect of firms' sizes and ages on BIM adoption and the unavoidable Mathew effect of the BIM divide.
Objective #2 was fulfilled by contextualizing the drivers and barriers to BIM adoption in the AEC industry. It examined the differences and similarities in drivers and barriers to BIM usage between SMEs and large firms, and between the developed countries and developing countries, using the data gleaned from the previous international survey. The 228 responses to the 20 identified barriers and 20 drivers were analysed using the mean score, rank agreement analysis, Mann-Whitney U test and factor analysis. A comparative analysis conducted for the barriers and drivers revealed that there exist differences in the perception of SMEs and large firms, and the perception of firms between developed and developing countries. However, the findings reinforced knowledge and education as a major barrier and driver for BIM usage. It further asserted that there is a deepening divide between developed and developing countries.
Based on the previous findings, Objective #3 further examined the dynamics and relationships between drivers of and barriers to BIM adoption in the Nigerian construction SMEs. A comprehensive literature review coupled with experts' review revealed 13 profound barriers to and 17 major drivers of BIM usage in the Nigerian context. A total of 16 BIM experts in the Nigerian construction SMEs evaluated the dynamics and relationships between the drivers and barriers. Interpretive Structural Modelling (ISM) technique was applied to model their interrelationships and the "Matrices d'Impacts Croises-Multipication Applique a un Classement (MICMAC)" analysis was used for categorisation of the barriers and drivers. The results provided clear paths and effective strategies for ameliorating the barriers and driving BIM adoption in Nigerian construction SMEs.
Objective #4 was achieved by employing technology adoption theories at the organisation level. Innovation Diffusion Theory (IDT), and Institutional Theory (INT) were synthesized into the Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE) framework to conceptualize BIM adoption in SMEs. An empirical questionnaire survey was piloted and administered in Nigeria to the construction SMEs. A total of 489 responses were solicited and empirically analysed using the Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) method to test the hypothesised paths of BIM adoption. The results revealed that the awareness and adoption of BIM are influenced by the internal and external environments and BIM characteristics. It revealed the right contextual conditions under which the SMEs would adopt BIM in practice. Prediction models were developed based on the significant paths derived from the PLS-SEM method using Artificial Neural Network (ANN). The developed models captured the causal relationships between the contextual conditions and BIM adoption in SMEs and were able to predict with unseen data.
To ease the adoption of BIM on SMEs' projects, a Knowledge-Based Decision Support System (KBDSS) was developed to achieve Objective #5. KBDSS is an integration of a decision support system (DSS) and expert system (ES). Decision-Making Factors (DMFs) were identified from the reported literature and complemented with experts' review which resulted in 6 categories of DMFs. These 6 categories comprised a total of 30 DMFs that were subjected to BIM experts' evaluation in the Nigerian construction SMEs using a two-round Delphi Survey. The responses were analysed using the Fuzzy Synthetic Evaluation (FSE) method and Suitability Decision Support Index (SDSI) computed. A KDBSS was subsequently developed based on SDSI and action plans drawn up from the literature and expert interviews. The KBDSS was developed using an integrated development environment (IDE) of Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications. The system was validated using two SMEs projects in Nigeria. The findings provided a strong empirical tool for the SMEs in assessing projects for BIM adoption and supporting the decision by providing action plans for improvement.
Lastly, all the findings of the study have generated salient and significant contributions to theory, practice and methods. Moreover, the study has provided valuable insights, effective strategies, valid empirical evidence, and useful evaluation tools to support the proliferation of BIM adoption in SMEs in the AEC Industry. Overall, it has contributed to the growing body of knowledge about BIM usage in the SMEs of developing countries and the research deliverables would be of profound benefit to various key project stakeholders and researchers in the AEC industry worldwide.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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