Capacity and capability development of Canterbury subcontracting businesses: Features, motivating factors and obstacles

Alice Yan Chang-Richards, Suzanne Wilkinson, Erica Seville, David Brunsdon

Resilient Organisations Research Report 2016/03, February 2016

Executive Summary

This report provides an understanding of the nature of Canterbury subcontracting businesses operating in the space of earthquake reconstruction in Christchurch. It offers an in-depth look at the factors that influence the development of their capacity and capability to withstand the impact of volatile economic cycles, including the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes.

There have been significant changes to the business models of the 13 subcontracting businesses studied since the earthquakes. These changes can be seen in the ways the case study subcontractors have adapted to cope with the changing demands that the rebuild posed. Apart from the magnitude of reconstruction works and new developments that directly affect the capacity of subcontracting businesses in Canterbury, case studies found that subcontractors’ capacity and capability to meet the demand varies and is influenced by the:

  • subcontractors’ own unique characteristics, which are often shaped by
  • changing circumstances in a dynamic and uncertain recovery process; and
  • internal factors in relation to the company’s goal and employees’ needs

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