The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation

Lauri Koskela, Ruben Vrijhoef

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific

Abstract

It is argued that construction innovation is significantly hindered by the prevalent theory of construction, which is implicit and deficient. There are three main mechanisms through which this hindrance is being caused. Firstly, because production theories in general, as well as construction theories specifically, have been implicit, it has not been possible to transfer such radical managerial innovation as mass production or lean production from manufacturing to construction. Direct application of these production templates in construction has been limited due to different context in construction in correspondence to manufacturing. On the other hand, without explicit theories, it has not been possible to access core ideas of concepts and methods of these templates, and to recreate them in construction environment. In consequence, theory and practice of construction has not progressed as in manufacturing. Secondly, it is argued that the underlying, even if implicit, theoretical model of construction is the transformation model of production. There are two first principles in the transformation model. First, the total transformation can be achieved only by realising all parts of it. Thus, we decompose the total transformation into parts, finally into tasks, ensure that all inputs are available and assign these tasks to operatives or workstations. Second, minimising the cost of each task, i.e. each decomposed transformation, minimises the cost of production. It is argued that these principles, in which uncertainty and time are abstracted away, are counterproductive, and lead to myopic control and inflated variability. Practical examples show that these deficiencies and related practical constraints hinder the top-down implementation of innovations. Thirdly, empirical research shows that also bottom-up innovation - systematic learning and problem solving - is hindered by this deficient theory. Thus, the advancement of construction innovation requires that a new, explicit and valid theory of construction is created, and business models and control methods based on it are developed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2000
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
Event8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8 - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Jul 200019 Jul 2000

Conference

Conference8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBrighton
Period17/07/0019/07/00

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Innovation
Costs

Keywords

  • innovation

Cite this

Koskela, L., & Vrijhoef, R. (2000). The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation. Paper presented at 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8, Brighton, United Kingdom.
Koskela, Lauri ; Vrijhoef, Ruben. / The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation. Paper presented at 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8, Brighton, United Kingdom.
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Koskela, L & Vrijhoef, R 2000, 'The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation' Paper presented at 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8, Brighton, United Kingdom, 17/07/00 - 19/07/00, .

The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation. / Koskela, Lauri; Vrijhoef, Ruben.

2000. Paper presented at 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8, Brighton, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific

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T1 - The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation

AU - Koskela, Lauri

AU - Vrijhoef, Ruben

N1 - CA2: RTE2 CA: RTE

PY - 2000

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N2 - It is argued that construction innovation is significantly hindered by the prevalent theory of construction, which is implicit and deficient. There are three main mechanisms through which this hindrance is being caused. Firstly, because production theories in general, as well as construction theories specifically, have been implicit, it has not been possible to transfer such radical managerial innovation as mass production or lean production from manufacturing to construction. Direct application of these production templates in construction has been limited due to different context in construction in correspondence to manufacturing. On the other hand, without explicit theories, it has not been possible to access core ideas of concepts and methods of these templates, and to recreate them in construction environment. In consequence, theory and practice of construction has not progressed as in manufacturing. Secondly, it is argued that the underlying, even if implicit, theoretical model of construction is the transformation model of production. There are two first principles in the transformation model. First, the total transformation can be achieved only by realising all parts of it. Thus, we decompose the total transformation into parts, finally into tasks, ensure that all inputs are available and assign these tasks to operatives or workstations. Second, minimising the cost of each task, i.e. each decomposed transformation, minimises the cost of production. It is argued that these principles, in which uncertainty and time are abstracted away, are counterproductive, and lead to myopic control and inflated variability. Practical examples show that these deficiencies and related practical constraints hinder the top-down implementation of innovations. Thirdly, empirical research shows that also bottom-up innovation - systematic learning and problem solving - is hindered by this deficient theory. Thus, the advancement of construction innovation requires that a new, explicit and valid theory of construction is created, and business models and control methods based on it are developed.

AB - It is argued that construction innovation is significantly hindered by the prevalent theory of construction, which is implicit and deficient. There are three main mechanisms through which this hindrance is being caused. Firstly, because production theories in general, as well as construction theories specifically, have been implicit, it has not been possible to transfer such radical managerial innovation as mass production or lean production from manufacturing to construction. Direct application of these production templates in construction has been limited due to different context in construction in correspondence to manufacturing. On the other hand, without explicit theories, it has not been possible to access core ideas of concepts and methods of these templates, and to recreate them in construction environment. In consequence, theory and practice of construction has not progressed as in manufacturing. Secondly, it is argued that the underlying, even if implicit, theoretical model of construction is the transformation model of production. There are two first principles in the transformation model. First, the total transformation can be achieved only by realising all parts of it. Thus, we decompose the total transformation into parts, finally into tasks, ensure that all inputs are available and assign these tasks to operatives or workstations. Second, minimising the cost of each task, i.e. each decomposed transformation, minimises the cost of production. It is argued that these principles, in which uncertainty and time are abstracted away, are counterproductive, and lead to myopic control and inflated variability. Practical examples show that these deficiencies and related practical constraints hinder the top-down implementation of innovations. Thirdly, empirical research shows that also bottom-up innovation - systematic learning and problem solving - is hindered by this deficient theory. Thus, the advancement of construction innovation requires that a new, explicit and valid theory of construction is created, and business models and control methods based on it are developed.

KW - innovation

M3 - Conference article

ER -

Koskela L, Vrijhoef R. The prevalent theory of construction is a hindrance for innovation. 2000. Paper presented at 8th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC-8, Brighton, United Kingdom.