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工程管理专业英语课后翻译-The Nature of the Construction Industry

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The Nature of the Construction Industry

The construction industry is a paradox in many ways. In its roughly 8.3 percent, $418 billion-plus share of the United States’ gross national product(1988), it is the largest industry, but the vast majority of its hundreds of thousands of participants are small business. There are over half a million construction firms in the United States alone. These firms are intensively competitive among themselves in the best traditions of the free enterprise system, yet, compared with other industries, construction’s technological advances sometimes appear trivial.

Construction has many characteristics common to both manufacturing andservice industries. Certainly, as in other manufacturing, there are physical products, and often these are of mind-boggling size, cost, and complexity. But in other ways, construction is more like a service industry becausesuch as steel, transportation, petroleum, and mining. Onesees this in comparative financial surveys,such as the Forbes andFortune magazines’ listings of the “top 500” businesses. Although several ofconstruction’s the largest firms ate listed each year on the basis of sales (cumulative annual contract awards or revenues), and sometimes on the basis of profits, few, if any, are even near the “top 500” on the basis of assets. Also, as in other service industries, success or failure in construction is by farmore dependent on the qualities of its people than it is on technologies protected by patents or on thesheer availability of capital facilities, though the latter, in particular, is often also very important.

Construction is highly fragmented and sometimes divisive, yet in response to pressing nationalneeds, such as a major war effort, few industries can mobilize resources more quickly. Each of its elements-designers, constructors, regulators, consumers, suppliers, crafts can be highly skilled in its ownarea, yet there is little general perspective on how all the pieces fit together. There really is on central focus.

Indeed, there is no clear definition as to just the construction industry is.

Certainly it must include the hundreds of thousands of general and specialty construction contractors. But to understand the industry really, one most extend its scope to include designers of facilities, materials suppliers, and equipment manufacturers. Labor organizations add still another dimension, as do public and private consumer of construction services, many of whom have considerable construction expertise oftheir own. Government regulatory agencies in such areas as safety, health, employment practices andfair trade also play an increasingly important role.

The construction industry is very custom-oriented; there is a strong feeling that if something is unique, it is better.Yet, this orientation also means that the industry has been slow to respond to the benefits of mass production. Its structure is highly specialized and layered, with complex interlockinginterests and traditions. Its character makes it highly effective on practical or project matters, yet often ineffective on general or program matters.

Research and development fall in the latter category of the less practical and more general andspeculative. Accurate date is not available,but it is generally assumed that only a fraction of 1 percent of the industry’s gross revenues are invested even in applied research,let alone basic research.This is in strong contrast to industries, such as electronics, where an estimated 10 to 20 percent ofrevenues go into research and development. This investment, in turn, at least partially accounts forthe quantum leaps the high-technology industries have taken in recent years.

It has been observed that the construction industry is almost completely incentive-oriented. Ifthere is little programmatic activity, it is likely that there is little incentive for investing in it. This reluctance to invest probably results in part because advances in construction tend to develop from innovations, or“better ideas”. Most of these cannot be protected by either secrecy or patents, and therefore disseminate rapidly through the industry. Thus, there is little incentive for one firm to investheavily in new developments that can soon be expected to benefit its competitors equally.

Owing to the comparatively large numbers and small sizes of its businesses, its

fragmentationand divisiveness, and its service characteristics, the construction industry, as a whole, cannot significantly influence the demand for its output or control the supply. The consequent instability of demandthus dominates everything. For example, seasonality is chronic, and construction has an amplified reaction to basic business and resources. Consequently, there is often too much work in some regions atthe same time that others are suffering localized recessions. Major problems recur in funding bothlarge and small projects, and these difficulties can be aggravated by government competition for andmanipulation of the finite funds that are available. Construction also is often placed in the forefront ofgovernment fiscal and social policy.

译文:

建筑行业的性质

建筑业在很多方面都是矛盾的。在其大约8.3%的美国国民生产总值(1988年)中,达到了4.18亿美元,是最大的行业,但其成千上万的参与者绝大多数都是小企业。仅美国就有超过50万建筑公司。这些企业在自由企业制度的最佳传统之间竞争激烈,但与其他行业相比,建筑技术进步有时候显得微不足道。

建筑业在制造业和服务行业都有许多共性。当然,如同在其他制造业一样,有实物产品,通常这些都是令人难以置信的大小、成本和复杂性。但在其他方面,建筑业更像是服务业,因为钢铁、运输、石油和采矿等。人们在比较金融调查中看到了这一点,比如《福布斯》和《财富》杂志的“500强”上市公司。虽然一些建筑的规模最大的公司每年都在销售的基础上上市(累计年度合同授权或收入),有时在利润的基础上,但很少(如果有的话)甚至接近“500强”的基础上资产。此外,与其他服务行业一样,建筑业的成败甚至更多地依赖于人员的素质,而不是受专利保护的技术或资本设施的绝对可用性,尽管后者尤其重要。

建筑是高度零散的,有时是分裂的,但在满足紧迫的国家需要时,如主要的战争努力,很少有工业能更快地调动资源。它的每一个元素--设计师、建设者、管理者、消费者、供应商以及手工艺品等都可以在自己的领域得到高度的技术支持,但是对于所有的部件如何组合在一起,几乎没有一般的观点。真正的焦点是集中注意力。

事实上,对建筑业来说,没有明确的定义。当然,它必须包括成千上万的一般人和专业建筑承包商。但要真正理解这个行业,最重要的是将其范围扩大到包括设施、材料供应商和设备制造商的设计师。劳工组织还增加了另一个层面,如公共和私人的建筑服务消费者,其中许多人拥有大量的建筑专业知识。政府监管机构在诸如安全、卫生、就业实践和公平交易等领域也发挥着越来越重要的作用。

建筑业是非常注重风俗的;有一种强烈的感觉,如果某物是独一无二的,那就更好了。然而,这一取向也意味着该行业对大规模生产的利益反应迟缓。其结构是高度专业化和分层的,具有复杂的连锁利益和传统。它的特点使它在实际项目事务上非常有效,但通常在一般程序问题上无效。

研究和发展属于后者的范畴较不太实际,更为笼统和投机。准确的日期是不可用的,但一般认为,即使在应用研究中也只投入行业总收入的1%,更不用说基础研究。这与诸如电子学之类的行业有着强烈的反差,其中估计有10%至20%的收入进入了研究和开发阶段。这项投

资反过来,至少部分地说明了高科技行业近几年所采取的量子飞跃。

据观察,建筑业几乎完全是以激励为导向的。如果没有什么方案活动,那么就很可能没有投资的积极性。这种不愿投资的可能部分原因是由于建筑业的进步趋向于从革新或“更好的想法”发展。大多数这些都不能被保密或专利保护,因此通过业界迅速传播。因此,一家公司在新的事态发展中投入巨资,很快就会使其竞争对手同样受益。

由于其业务数量和规模较小,其破碎和分裂,以及其服务特点,对建筑业整体而言,不能显著影响其产出的需求或控制供给。由此产生的需求不稳定主宰一切。例如,季节性是慢性的,而且建筑业对基本业务和资源有放大的反应。因此,在某些地区,在其他国家遭受局部衰退的同时,往往有太多的工作。在为大型和小型项目提供资金方面出现了重大问题,而政府对现有有限资金的竞争和操纵可能会加剧这些困难。建筑也常常被置于政府财政和社会政策的前列。