Examining the impact of corporate commitment to sustainability

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Beheiry, Salwa Mamoun Ahmed

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This dissertation presents the culmination of a research study, started at the University of Texas at Austin in August 2003. The main objective of the study was to establish a research mechanism to investigate the impact of corporate commitment to all three pillars of sustainability on capital project planning and capital project performance. The research hypothesis was that a higher balanced commitment to the three pillars of sustainability leads to better capital project planning and ultimately to better cost and schedule performance in large industrial and building projects, by mitigating the risks in project execution. To achieve the objectives of this study, sustainability indicators were condensed into two empirical indices. The first index measured Corporate Commitment to the three pillars of sustainability. It is referred to as the Corporate Sustainability Commitment Index (CSCI). The second index measured the degree of integration of sustainable practices in capital project planning. It is referred to as the Sustainability Component of Project Planning Index (SCPPI). The research study then focused on the two most important project performance measures, cost and schedule predictability. Project success is typically referred to as meeting business objectives, on time, and within budget. Therefore, 38 Fortune 100 multinationals were contacted and data on CSCI, SCPPI and project performance was collected from 20 of these organizations. Seventeen of the 20 organizations were owners and three were top contractors. Owner data was focused on and analyzed to examine the nature of the relationship between sustainable practices and project performance, while contractor data added perspective and helped establish the nucleus for further research comparing the sustainability practices of both owner and contractor companies. The study concludes that the survey instrument and research premise are useful foundations for further examination of the relationship between owner commitment to sustainability and capital project performance. The data collection and analysis, albeit very statistically constrained by the sample size, lay the groundwork for further research. More data collections should lead to more statistically significant relationships and conclusive trends. Finally, this dissertation provides several recommendations to aid in the implementation of the study findings and the learning experience from industry input.