Interview: Santhosh Loganathan
Joint PhD Candidate Indian Institute of Technology Madras/UTS
Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
What’s the focus of your PhD thesis?
My research is on construction project management and the productivity of the construction industry. As you know, productivity is vital to the profitability of organisations and projects. Construction is still a labour intensive industry, compared to manufacturing or other industries. My research focuses on the impact of different demographic factors on construction workers and productivity.
In India, construction workers move from their home state to other parts of the country for construction work, bringing their own language, culture and work style. There are many demographic factors as well as their experience, skill level and of course the compatibility between crew members, and between crew and supervisors, that can impact productivity.
The key issue for management is that they cannot predict what impact these factors will have on productivity. I’m going to develop some statistical models which will help to predict productivity, given all these significant factors. So my contribution will be a mathematical model to help predict productivity in both the Indian and Australian contexts.
Why did you choose to do a joint PhD?
I didn’t want to do research in India that’s only applicable for India. Any PhD student will aim for a generalisation of their findings. Whether you’re in India or Sri Lanka or Pakistan or US or UK or Australia, the findings should be universal.
One of the benefits of cross-institutional research is exposure to another context. Why I chose Australia, is that it has the most productive construction industry in the world- it’s one or two times greater than the United States. So I wanted to see what factors make Australia productive that are not there in India, and see how that could be improved. This will be in comparison, so we can learn lessons from both countries.
Will you be visiting Australian construction worksites?
One of the important things to do is field work. I'll be interviewing workers, supervisors, engineers and managers, to understand these factors. Then, I’ll actually go and collect field data to see how they are measuring productivity, what productivity is like on a daily basis, track the overall productivity, and develop my mathematical models.
Why should other early-career academics consider a joint/dual PhD?
If you want to have an international academic career, then a joint degree is a very useful thing to do. It gives you exposure to another context and another research style.
I also think it’s important to have exposure to more than one context, as well as having international exposure, given the impact of globalisation on many technologies. It helps you to contribute more to the academic world, which is very important.
Today, academics are looking for collaboration opportunities. We write articles together with professors in other universities. But when you come here you will really collaborate, not only in writing, but also in terms of field work, data collection and analysis.