Extreme weather events and construction SMEs: Vulnerability, impacts, and responses

Gayan Wedawatta*, Bingunath Ingirige, Keith Jones, David Proverbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The UK experienced a number of Extreme Weather Events (EWEs) during recent years and a significant number of businesses were affected as a result. With the intensity and frequency of weather extremes predicted in the future, enhancing the resilience of businesses, especially of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), who are considered as highly vulnerable, has become a necessity. However, little research has been undertaken on how construction SMEs respond to the risk of EWEs. In seeking to help address this dearth of research, this investigation sought to identify how construction SMEs were being affected by EWEs and the coping strategies being used. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed methods research design was adopted to elicit information from construction SMEs, involving a questionnaire survey and case study approach. Findings: Results indicate a lack of coping strategies among the construction SMEs studied. Where the coping strategies have been implemented, these were found to be extensions of their existing risk management strategies rather than radical measures specifically addressing EWEs. Research limitations/implications: The exploratory survey focused on the Greater London area and was limited to a relatively small sample size. This limitation is overcome by conducting detailed case studies utilising two SMEs whose projects were located in EWE prone localities. The mixed method research design adopted benefits the research by presenting more robust findings. Practical implications: A better way of integrating the potential of EWEs into the initial project planning stage is required by the SMEs. This could possibly be achieved through a better risk assessment model supported by better EWE prediction data. Originality/value: The paper provides an original contribution towards the overarching agenda of resilience of SMEs and policy making in the area of EWE risk management. It informs both policy makers and practitioners on issues of planning and preparedness against EWEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-119
Number of pages14
JournalStructural Survey
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2011


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