Labour deployment on representative large-scale housing projects is analysed to reveal distinct differences between England, Germany, Scotland and Denmark. In the light of the debates on convergence/divergence of HRM systems and generally different production systems, the paper is apposite in demonstrating structural differences in the organisation of the construction process, their implications for efficiency and productivity, and their impact on employment and contract relations, innovation and skills.
The effects of the overriding cost rationale of the British system are illustrated in terms of labour deployment and the efficiency and productivity of the site construction process. Labour deployment is based on the rationale of extensive subcontracting, with main contractors providing the management and cost function whilst their productive capacity rests on subcontracting supply chains. The main contractor has come to specialise in two areas, costing and the management of the process. Subcontractors provide all production personnel and thus the production knowledge for carrying out the work packages and stages. On the continent, in contrast, the economic rationale is different, as main contractors do not depend nearly as much on the production capacity of subcontracting.