Knowledge management: Barriers to capturing lessons learned from Australian construction contractors perspective

Morteza Shokri-Ghasabeh, Nicholas Chileshe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - A research study has been undertaken at the University of South Australia to introduce application of lessons learned process in construction contractors' bidding process in the context of knowledge management. The study aims to identify barriers to effectively capture lessons learned in Australian construction industry and how knowledge management can benefit from lessons learned application. Design/methodology/approach - The research study has been undertaken through conducting a "methodological triangulation" and "interdisciplinary triangulation". This involved an extensive literature review of knowledge management, organisation learning, lessons learned and associated processes and administration of a questionnaire to a sample of construction contractors operating in Australia to elicit opinions on the main barriers to capturing lessons learned, practices such as existence and retention of documentation procedures. A total of 81 useable responses were received from 450 organisations. Response data were subjected to descriptive and inferential statistics with correlation analysis to examine the strength of relationship among the barriers. Findings - The top-3 barriers to the effective capturing of lessons learned were "lack of employee time", "lack of resources" and "lack of clear guidelines", whereas, "lack of management support" was the least ranked barrier. The study established that despite the majority of the ACCs having formal procedures for recording the tenders submitted and their outcomes, only a minority actually retained the lessons learned documentation for each project. The larger contractors were found to be more aware of the importance of lessons learned documentation. A comparative analysis with previous studies also found a disparity in the ranking of the barriers. Research limitations/implications - The majority of the participants were small construction contractors in Australia. The reason is that the researchers were not aware of the contractors' size prior to inviting them for participation in the research study. Second the findings may not generalize to other industries or to organisations operating in other countries. Originality/value - The findings of this survey help ACCs to understand the importance of lessons learned documentation as part of lessons learned implementation and identify the barriers to effectively document their lessons learned. The study provides insights on the barriers and proposes advocated solutions in form of drivers and enablers (critical success factors) of organisational learning capturing among the Australian construction contractors. By reviewing the current literature, "post-project reviews" and "lessons learned" as important elements of organisation learning knowledge transfer, are addressed. Finally, contribution of this study to knowledge and practice has been discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17102659
Pages (from-to)108-134
Number of pages27
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Barriers
  • Bidding decision
  • Construction management
  • Knowledge management
  • Lessons learned

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Computer Science
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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