Preprint / Version 2

The Ripple Effects of COVID-19 on South Africa's Building and Construction Industry

Workforce Reduction and Project Delays




Construction Management, Construction Project Management, Construction Materials, Contract Administration, Cost Estimation, Economic Impact Analysis, Facility Management, Financial Modeling, Housing Developments, Operational Support, Project Documentation, Project Risk Management, Public-Private Partnerships, Quantity Surveying, Real Estate Finance, Stakeholder Management, Supply Chain Management, Sustainable Development, Tender Negotiation, Urban Infrastructure, Workforce Dynamics, Construction Industry, COVID-19, Project Delays, Construction Project Delays, Quarantine Impact, Skilled Workforce Reduction, South Africa, Adaptive Chaos Management Theory in Construction, ACMTC, CIDB - Construction Industry Development Board, COVID-19 - Coronavirus Disease 2019, Chaos Theory


Design/Methodology/Approach: This study employs a quantitative methodology using a cross-sectional survey design. Data were collected from construction industry professionals across South Africa through online questionnaires. The analysis utilises a linear regression model to examine the impact of skilled labour reduction on project turnaround times and the applicability of the Adaptive Chaos Management Theory in Construction (ACMTC).

Purpose: The study explored the impact of workforce reduction, specifically skilled labour, on project turnaround times in the South African construction industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also assesses the effectiveness of current project management strategies and the potential of ACMTC to enhance resilience and adaptability.

Findings: Findings indicate that reductions in skilled labour significantly delay project completions. The study also reveals inadequacies in current management strategies to handle the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, ACMTC showed potential in improving project resilience and management effectiveness during disruptions.

Research Limitations/Implications: Longitudinal studies are recommended to track changes over time. Also, qualitative insights could enrich the understanding of ACMTC's practical implementation.
Practical Implications: The study underscores the need for construction industry stakeholders to revise management strategies and integrate adaptable theoretical models like ACMTC to better handle future disruptions, ensuring project continuity and efficiency.

Social Implications: By improving project management practices, the construction industry can better sustain employment and project delivery during crises, contributing to economic stability and worker welfare.

Originality/Value: This research contributes to academic and practical fields by empirically testing the Adaptive Chaos Management Theory in a real-world setting and highlighting its relevance in crisis scenarios, offering a novel approach to managing construction projects during pandemics.


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Author Biographies

Nomsa Chabalala, University of Witwatersrand

I possess extensive experience in Construction Project Management, Facilities Management, Public-Private Partnerships, and Operational Support and Planning within the infrastructure sector. I hold a BSc in Construction Studies, a BSc with Honours in Quantity Surveying, and an MSc in Building with Distinction, all awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). My skill set includes excellent administrative and reporting abilities, robust stakeholder and interpersonal management skills, and an exceptional work ethic. I am adept at preparing, compiling, and completing comprehensive project documentation.

Malcolm Weaich, University of Witwatersrand

Malcolm Weaich

With over 12 years of experience in the construction industry, I am a registered quantity surveyor skilled in providing professional advice on all financial and contractual aspects of built environment projects. As a Project Quantity Surveyor and Feasibility Specialist at Weaich Quantity Surveyors (Pty) Ltd, my role encompasses managing project financial management, supply chain management, tender negotiation, and project change management for a diverse range of clients, architects, engineers, and other service providers. I possess a comprehensive understanding of various construction systems and methods, specialised services and installations, construction materials, plant and labour, as well as numerous forms of contracts and sub-contract agreements used within the industry. Additionally, I serve as a part-time Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, imparting my knowledge and expertise in quantity surveying to students in the Department of Construction Economics and Management. I am currently pursuing an MSc/PhD in Quantity Surveying at the same institution, focusing on sustainable development in urban infrastructure. My passion for excelling in my field is driven by a commitment to become one of the most trusted quantity surveyors in the industry, guided by a strong ethical framework and a deep understanding of all development phases to assess the financial feasibility of projects. Known for my ability to identify cost-saving opportunities, I excel in problem-solving, adapting to change, and acquiring new skills. I also have strong interpersonal and communication skills, enabling me to work effectively both independently and as part of a team at any organisational level.

Prisca Simbanegavi, University of Witwatersrand

Dr. Prisca Simbanegavi is a distinguished Specialist Researcher Advisor in Affordable Housing Developments and Investments and serves as a Research Associate with academic focus areas in Real Estate Finance, Property Management, and Entrepreneurship. Her academic credentials are robust, having earned a PhD in Real Estate with a focus on investment guidelines for inclusive human settlements and affordable housing from 2014 to 2019. Her doctoral research, conducted at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where she also completed her BCom (Honours) in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management in 2008, included a thesis on the role of state-subsidized housing (RDP) in stimulating township residential property markets in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Her coursework covered a breadth of subjects including Accounting, Economics, Financial Modeling, Statistics, and more, with a comprehensive approach to both theoretical and practical aspects of finance and property markets. From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Simbanegavi advanced her education at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden, earning a Master of Science in Real Estate Management with a specialisation in Real Estate Financial Economics. Her master's thesis provided an empirical analysis of the rent-setting process in the Swedish office market from property owners' perspectives. Dr. Simbanegavi began her academic journey at the University of Zimbabwe, where she earned a BSc (Honors) in Economics between 1995 and 1997. Her studies there spanned various economic disciplines, from economic principles and international trade to quantitative methods and econometrics. Her proficiency and communication skills are well-developed, with extensive knowledge in business administration, business law, economic statistics, and more, enabling her to deliver impactful educational experiences and insightful research outcomes. Dr. Simbanegavi is committed to advancing affordable housing initiatives and prefers to work within the African context, contributing her extensive expertise to meaningful projects that address crucial development needs. She can be contacted at 076 733 5396 or via email at, should you wish to apply to the University of Witwatersrand to do a MSc or PhD in Real Estate.

Pride Ndlovu, University of Witwatersrand

Dr. Pride Ndlovu is a distinguished researcher focused on enhancing cross-border collaboration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Specialising in knowledge transfer between international and local firms, Dr. Ndlovu's work promotes regional development and innovation. Her expertise is pivotal in building sustainable partnerships and fostering economic growth across the continent.

Faranani Gethe, University of Witwatersrand

Faranani Gethe is an accomplished Construction Project Manager with a proven track record in the construction industry. He is adept in a variety of key areas including construction, contractor management, refurbishments, quantity surveying, and cost planning. His expertise is underpinned by a solid educational background, holding a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) in Construction Management from the University of Johannesburg. Faranani is recognised as a strong professional in human resources, where his skills contribute significantly to the management and strategic planning of construction projects. His extensive experience and comprehensive skill set enable him to effectively oversee complex projects from conception to completion, ensuring efficiency and quality in every phase.



2024-04-24 — Updated on 2024-05-13


Version justification

Revisions made to results section, and formatting changes to match the journal for publication.