The History of ARCOM
ARCOM has its genesis in a meeting held on 12 January 1984 at the University of Reading, where a group of academics met to discuss the possibility of creating an organisation to further construction management research in the UK. This meeting ultimately led to a number of outcomes, including the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC – the forerunner of the EPSRC) developing a 'Specially promoted Programme' for construction management research. It was also agreed to set up an association to provide a discussion forum for construction management research, to run workshops and conferences and to help to improve the interface with industry. Having formed the association, and deciding upon the appointment of its inaugural chair – Professor Rod Howes, Rod, Norman Fisher and colleagues set about developing the initial constitution. It was decided to run an annual conference that would move around different institutions, to develop a travelling 'road show' to publicise research and methods, and to develop a register of research interests in order to better understand the research undertaken by this emerging community. It was decided that this would be a membership-based association and that a nominal fee of £5 would be charged to augment the start-up fund of £8k that had been obtained from the SERC. ARCOM was born!
Many leaders of our research community were present at the initial meeting in 1984 and contributed to the development of the Association in its early days. Rod was succeeded by Roy Duff (1986-1988), Matthew Cusack (1988-1990), Richard Fellows (1990-1992), Martin Skitmore (1992-1994), Tony Thorpe (1994-1996), Paul Stephenson (1996-1998), Will Hughes (1998-2000), Akintola Akintoye (2000-2002), David Greenwood (2002-2004), Farzad Khosrowshahi (2004-2006), David Boyd (2006-2008), Andrew Dainty (2008-2010) and Charles Egbu (2010-2012). All of ARCOM's chairs have been supported by enthusiastic committee members over the years, who have sustained the Association and its activities. These are too numerous to mention within this short overview, but one who demands a special mention is Professor David Langford. Dave joined the committee in 1988 and started his association with ARCOM by running a road show on research methods. A stalwart of the committee, he led many of ARCOM's key initiatives including the EPSRC-funded Network of Construction Creativity Clubs and editing the book 'Building a Discipline' which was launched at ARCOM's 25th conference. Dave was eventually made ARCOM's Honorary Life Presidency in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Association and to the construction management community at large. Dave sadly passed away in 2010 but he will be remembered with affection by all ARCOM members.
For many, ARCOM is best known for its annual conference. ARCOM's first conference was held in 1984 at what was then the Southbank Polytechnic. One of the keynote speakers was Sir Michael Latham (who was an MP at the time). Since the first conference in 1984 we have travelled the length and breadth of the UK having held events in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; we even have run a conference in the Isle of Man! Now a firm fixture on the annual conference calendar, ARCOM regularly attracts over 150 delegates, around a third of whom travel from outside the UK. As anyone that has attended an ARCOM conference will attest, they have a unique warmth and friendliness. The academic discussion and debate is as vigorous as it is at any conference, but the advice and comment that flows from such discussion always seems to delivered in a positive and constructive way. This helps to create the relaxed atmosphere with which ARCOM has become synonymous. The social programmes are usually pretty stimulating too!
It is also important to recognise that ARCOM is about much more than the conference. The committee have always been active in running doctoral seminars and workshops, in writing regular newsletters, in running research projects and networks and in lobbying for change on behalf of the community. ARCOM is also a membership-based association; people join and maintain their membership because they feel an affinity to the community that it represents, and because it seeks to further the broad interests of those who research the organisation, management and economics of construction.