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ARCOM Conferences

35th Annual Conference – Leeds, UK
2-4 September 2019

Track 4: Making space for construction productivity studies

Lead: Paul W Chan, The University of Manchester (paul.chan@manchester.ac.uk); Obuks Ejohwomu, The University of Manchester; Christine Räisänen, Chalmers University

Despite perennial concern over the productivity challenge (see e.g. BEIS, 2017), and in spite of a growing body of studies that examine this challenge in construction (see e.g. Green, 2016, and; Farmer, 2016), little progress appears to have been made. The rhetoric of sub-optimal performance in construction persists (Green, 2011). In a recent systematic review covering 146 studies (many of which focus on construction), Chan and Ejohwomu (2018) found that studies that attempt to draw a link between project management and productivity have tended to rely on self-perception data often based on questionnaire surveys; this reliance on self-reporting in turn generates weak evidence and understanding, especially of the micro-foundational practices that actually contribute to construction productivity (see also Leiringer and Dainty, 2018).

Furthermore, studies on construction productivity have tended to emphasise the significance of time (Chan and Ejohwomu, 2018). Consequently, this temporal focus obscures the role that space plays in understanding construction productivity. Yet, space can potentially add another dimension to construction productivity studies. For example, increasing use of virtual, geographically-dispersed teams and developments in communication technologies can add to the complexity of construction work thereby affecting performance (see e.g. Dossick et al., 2015). Thus, spatial considerations can impact on productivity and need to be accounted for. Elsewhere, there is growing recognition of the need to problematise space in the management of projects (see e.g. Bosch-Sijtsema and Tjell, 2017). In wider management and organisational studies, scholars have already taken space to task by analysing how physical space is represented, and how space is lived and imagined (see e.g. Dale and Burrell, 2008; de Vaujany and Mitev, 2013, also Lefevbre, 1991), and how organisational spaces are changing (Skogland and Hansen, 2017).

In this track, we are therefore making space for more rigorous and robust research, and to bring ‘space’ into studies of construction productivity. We welcome novel contributions that make space for creative theoretical, empirical and/or methodological papers that push the frontiers of our understanding of construction productivity. In particular, we hope that contributions can connect with one or more of the following conversations, including:


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