This study considered the enabling environment of artisanal dimension stone (i.e. blocks cut and shaped from natural rock using hand tools) for building in Nairobi, Kenya. It relied on the sociotechnical system theory to capture the forces (variables) that influence the business/enabling environment of the building material. The socio-technical perspective was necessary because hitherto existing literature had only considered the archi-technical, patho-technical, geotechnical, archaeo-technical and eco-technical perspectives. The study sought to explore the organizational structure of the construction industry in Kenya and profile the internal structure and the external environment of artisanal dimension stone producing units so as to identify and ascertain the socio-technical forces (variables) influencing the production and use of the stone. The study further sought to analyse the interrelationships among the identified forces in order to suggest adjustments to the enabling environment.
The study applied PEST analysis techniques (including stakeholder and factor analyses) to characterise the enabling environment. The research took place in two main stages: exploratory and conclusive. The exploratory study involved the use of ethnographical methods (unstructured interviews and participant observation), analysis of secondary data and literature review so as to come up with theoretical propositions that further were tested conclusively through quantitative research using factor analysis. Data for factor analysis were obtained through structured interview conducted among relevant stakeholders of the building industry (i.e. stone producers, architects, quantity surveyors, contractors, and structural engineers) operating in Nairobi. The outputs of the study include: a profile of the business of the construction industry in Nairobi (Chapter 5), a profile of the internal structure and the external environment of artisanal stone producing units (Chapter 6) and a factor analytic model of the enabling environment of artisanal dimension stone (Chapter 7). Factor analysis that forms the conclusive part of the study has demonstrated that the enabling environment is relatively hostile. Further it has established the three levels of analysis proposed by Bertalanffy i.e. the number of system elements, the typology (variability) of system elements, and the interrelations among system elements. The study has also made certain policy recommendations in response to the hostile nature of the enabling environment: including the formation of an association by the producing unit, the formation of a marketing cooperative by the producing units and the cessation of blasting as a method of cutting rock.