The Nexus between Organizational Climate,


Collaboratist Leadership and Industry 4.0

Readiness within the Construction Industry



By Dr. Daniel Farai Zhou

Prof Dr. Cecile Schultz


Prof Dr. Pieter Steyn

South Africa


Although Industry 4.0 (4I) is at the heart of global economic dialogues, the lack of readiness for 4I displayed by the construction industry appears to be directly affected by organizational climate (OC) and a lack of collaboratist leadership (CL). This study aimed to determine whether a nexus exists between OC, CL and 4I readiness. To explore this nexus, we sought to establish whether there is a significant relationship between OC, CL and 4I readiness within the construction industry; whether CL and OC predict 4I readiness; whether CL is a mediator between OC and 4I readiness; and the strategic route forward to overcome the lack of 4I readiness. A positivist research paradigm and quantitative research method were used. Questionnaires were distributed to 250 individuals in the construction industry. There are significant relationships between OC, CL and 4I readiness. The results also reveal that CL and OC predict 4I readiness and that CL is a mediator between OC and 4I readiness. This study contributes to ongoing discussions about 4I organizational readiness and suggests that there is a nexus between OC, CL and 4I readiness.

Keywords: Industry 4.0 readiness; organizational climate; collaboratist leadership; information technology; operational technology


Industries are adopting Industry 4.0 (4I) technologies at an unprecedented pace in the 21st century, but the construction industry is lagging. There is arguably a nexus between organizational climate (OC), collaboratist leadership (CL) and 4I readiness. Four key aspects affected by the 4I economy are customer expectations, product (and service) enhancement, collaborative innovation and organizational forms (Steyn and Semolic 2020). These aspects affected by the 4I economy speak to OC and CL. It is evident from the above that there is a relationship between OC, CL and 4I readiness in organizations.

Effective CL role-modelling promotes positive perceptions with followers with respect to creating an OC conducive to high motivation (Steyn and Semolic 2020). The design of production and service processes is largely influenced by technology. These processes constitute 4I organizational forms that are shaped cross-functionally and need to be programme managed (Steyn and Semolic 2018). It is not clear whether there are significant relationships between OC, CL and 4I readiness; whether CL and OC predict 4I readiness; and whether CL is a mediator between OC and 4I readiness in the South African construction industry. This warrants further investigations on the extent of the effect of CL on OC and 4I readiness.

In order to assist with closing this research gap, this paper adopts a theoretical perspective to explore the nexus between OC, CL on 4I readiness. It starts with unpacking construction in the 4I before exploring the nexus above. Thereafter, it seeks to outline the effects of OC and Cl as predictors of 4I readiness. When the prediction theory has been discussed, the paper unpacks CL’s mediation capabilities between OC and 4I readiness. Lastly, it outlines strategies to overcome the lack of 4I readiness in the construction industry. The research approach and methods follow the literature review. The results from the empirical study, discussion and conclusions are given as the last sections in this paper.

Literature overview

Construction in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The risks of 4I are greater than the opportunities in most instances (Dalenogare et al. 2018). The long-term effects of 4I on the construction industry will vary depending on responses to questions such as: What are the key barriers to the full application of 4I in emerging countries? When will construction industries adopt these emerging technologies on a large scale? What policies are needed to guide the application of these technologies?

4I is expected to change the global construction industry in four key ways, namely sustainability and enhanced resource use; increased geographical proximity, as well as the integration of customers in design and production processes; mass customization of products and services, enabled by distribution and responsive production through collaborative processes; and people-aligned interfaces and improved work conditions (Stankovic et al. 2017).


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How to cite this paper: Zhou, D.F., Schultz, C., Steyn, P. (2021). The Nexus between Organizational Climate, Collaboratist Leadership and Industry 4.0 Readiness within the Construction Industry; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/pmwj111-Nov2021-Zhou-Schultz-Steyn-the-nexus-featured-paper.pdf

About the Authors

Dr. Daniel Farai Zhou

South Africa


Dr. Daniel Farai Zhou is currently working for the Department of Human Settlements in South Africa as a programme management consultant. He is a board member of Kingdom Construction and Waste Management, a director of MZ Academic Books, non-executive director of Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory in Lesotho and South Africa, and holds the same position at Blu Cross Solutions (a company which specializes in small business incubation programmes).

Dr. Zhou is a former CEO of E`tsho Civils, as well as Oxford Construction and Consulting Engineers. He is also a former COO of Transfix Transformers, Totoro Properties, and E`tsho Holdings. He completed his PhD in Commerce and Administration (Cranefield), and is a certified project management professional (PMP) with 15 years’ experience in manufacturing and construction. His ORCID ID is https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1563-7840. He can be contacted via email at danielfarai@yahoo.com


Dr. Cecile Schultz

South Africa


Dr. Cecile Schultz is a professor at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and a guest lecturer at Cranefield College. She has 24 years’ experience as an academic specialising in the future of human resource management and work, and strategic human resource management. She is funded by the South African National Research Foundation to conduct research about the future of human resources.

Prof Schultz is a member of the South African Board of People Practices and is a registered psychometrist at the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Her current niche research area is about the future of work and the alleviation of poverty. Her passion for community development is illustrated in her involvement in the work readiness training sessions at the People Upliftment Programme (POPUP) since 2006. Her ORCID ID is https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7048-7892. She can be contacted via email at profschultz@cranefield.ac.za.


Prof Dr. Pieter Steyn

South Africa


Dr. Pieter Steyn is Founder and Principal of Cranefield College, a South African Council on Higher Education / Department of Education accredited and registered Private Higher Education Institution. Cranefield offers an Advanced Certificate, Advanced Diploma, Batchelor of Business Administration degree, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s degree (MCom), and PhD. He holds the degrees BSc (Eng), MBA and Doctor of Commerce, and is a registered Professional Engineer.

He was formerly professor in the Department of Management, University of South Africa and Pretoria University Business School. He founded the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and in 1979 pioneered Project Management as a university subject at the post-graduate level at the University of South Africa. Prof Steyn also taught at the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan as a guest lecturer.

He founded consulting engineering firm Steyn and Van Rensburg (SVR). Projects by SVR include First National Bank Head Office (Bank City), Standard Bank Head Office, Mandela Square Shopping Centre (all in Johannesburg), as also, Game City- and The Wheel Shopping Centres (in Durban). He, inter alia, chaired the Commission of Enquiry into the Swaziland Civil Service; and acted as Programme Manager for the Strategic Transformation of the Gauteng Government’s Welfare Department and Corporate Core.

Prof Steyn is a contributing author of the “International Handbook of Production and Operations Management,” (Cassell, London, 1989, ed. Ray Wild) and is the author of many articles and papers on leadership and management. He is a member of the Association of Business Leadership, Industrial Engineering Institute, Engineering Association of South Africa, and Project Management South Africa (PMSA); and a former member of the Research Management Board of IPMA. He serves on the Editorial Board of the PM World Journal. Moreover, he is the owner of the Aan’t Vette Wine Estate and De Doornkraal Vinotel (4-star hotel) in Riversdale, Western Cape.

Prof Steyn can be contacted at cranefield1@cranefield.ac.za. For information about Cranefield College, visit www.cranefield.ac.za.