Thematic literature review of working capital management in the construction industry: trends and research opportunities

Emmanuel Asare, De Graft Owusu-Manu, Joshua Ayarkwa, David John Edwards, I. Martek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The construction industry (CI) is a major contributor to the gross domestic product of most economies. Yet, the industry is characterized by poorly performing projects, plagued with cost overruns, delays, with a relatively high-risk nature and marginal returns. Given that construction projects are financially dynamic, relying on highly fluctuating working capital and cash-flow requirements, there is an imperative need to understand the working capital management (WCM) of the CI. This study aims to review the extant literature on WCM in the CI to present a contemporary positional paper and engender a wider polemic debate on this crucial phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review methodology is used, using Google Scholar as the literature database. Findings: Despite the importance of this research theme, only 16 publications dedicated to the topic of WCM in the CI are identified. This is an important finding in itself and is indicative of hitherto scant research conducted. Other observations include the lack of experts examining the field, with no authors exploring the theme more than once. Subthemes of WCM are also scarce, with only the topic of the relationship between “WCM and profitability” been revisited and refined in literature; all other topics being cursory. Originality/value: This study is among pioneering papers in developing economies that have taken stock of WCM in the CI. As a result, the conclusion of this paper is to call out the paucity of research in WCM and set a broad agenda for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-791
Number of pages17
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2023


  • Construction industry
  • Project management
  • Working capital management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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