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Title: Flexible management of workers: Review of employment practices in the construction industry in Singapore
Authors: Ofori, G. 
Debrah, Y.A.
Keywords: Construction industry
Employment systems
Formalizing labour subcontracting
Labour market flexibility
Issue Date: 1998
Source: Ofori, G.,Debrah, Y.A. (1998). Flexible management of workers: Review of employment practices in the construction industry in Singapore. Construction Management and Economics 16 (4) : 397-408. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The human resource management literature has covered the issues relating to labour market flexibility (LMF), and highlighted a trend in many sectors towards increasing reliance on peripheral workers. Construction has been cited as a model in terms of its ability to exploit the benefits of LMF in its widespread use of peripheral workers as a response to an uncertain operating environment. This paper examines employers' quests for LMF in the construction industry in Singapore, explores the prevailing approaches to labour use in the industry, considers the rationales for the reliance on peripheral workers, and evaluates the merits and disadvantages of this practice. It argues that Singapore's construction firms have always relied on a traditional form of employment based on a labour subcontracting system, but recent years have witnessed changes in the structure of the system as well as an increase in the proportion of foreign workers in the labour force. In addition, it is argued that the conditions for the increasing use of these peripheral workers are different from those suggested to be underlying the quest for 'flexibility' in industrialized countries. The practice is observed to have considerable adverse effects, although firms derive some of the benefits relating to LMF. Possible measures are put forward for improving construction labour use strategies in Singapore.
Source Title: Construction Management and Economics
ISSN: 01446193
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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