Improving productivity in construction: a contractor perspective
Licentiate thesis, 2011
Improving productivity in construction has been a lengthy battle. Several debates, articles, reports and books have acknowledged that productivity in construction must be improved. Numerous theoretical and practical solutions to improve productivity have been developed over time both in academia and in practise. A problem with developing theories on how to improve productivity is that there is no generally accepted definition of the term. Productivity has different meanings for different individuals, dependent on context, background and profession. It is therefore likely that suggestions on how to improve productivity will be interpreted differently. In order to improve productivity in construction, the concept itself must first be explored from a context specific perspective. Throughout this thesis it is the production managers’ views that are under scrutiny.
The aim of this thesis is to identify factors that influence productivity in construction and to explore the production managers’ views on potential improvements of productivity. Various aspects of productivity are presented and synthesised into a model where inputs are related to outputs through a transformation process. Resources, costs for the use of resources, and the value added in the process are factors in this model.
The thesis is based on three papers, each focusing on its own research question. Paper I presents the difficulties of evaluating productivity by exploring the multiple usages of the term in construction. Paper II further examines productivity by analysing what views production managers have concerning their firms’ productivity improvements by reducing the unnecessary use of resources. Paper III explores what views production managers have concerning their roles when productivity is improved through increasing standardisation by exploring the relationship between the production managers’ need for freedom in their construction projects and the firms’ need for standards that improve productivity.
The main findings confirm that resources, costs for the use of resources, and the value added are terms that need to be considered when productivity is to be improved from a production manager perspective. Conclusions are drawn that production managers are not averse to implementing standards or reducing the use of resources to improve productivity. Instead, the short-term cost focused approach prevailing in the construction industry hinders the managers from finding and establishing standards that can improve project productivity in their project organisations.
Keywords: construction industry, contractor organisations, production manager perspective, productivity, transformation process, use of resources, value added
use of resources
production manager perspective