Is production outside management?

Lauri Koskela, Glenn Ballard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


It is contended that the root cause for disagreement between lean construction proponents and management scholars is related to the new direction of management research which was proposed in 1959 in two influential books, by R.A. Gordon and J.E. Howell and by F.C. Pierson. It was argued that management was to be approached through three root stems: behavioural science, economics and quantitative modelling. The mainstream academic work on management has followed the guidelines presented in these books. Unfortunately, this kind of management science has also attracted vocal and wide criticism regarding its practical relevance. The 1959 work rejected the production-centric scientific management tradition - a tradition on which lean construction has been based. Thus, the underlying disagreement is about the role of production in management: is production a starting point for management or outside management? This root disagreement is demonstrated through two research topics at the heart of the development of management science after 1959: organizational theory, as developed by J.R. Galbraith, and transaction cost economics, initiated by O. Williamson. Based on evidence from the analyses made, it is suggested that the failure to include production in theory has been one major cause for the problematic situation of management science in the last 50 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-737
Number of pages14
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event20th Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction - San Diego, United States
Duration: 17 Jul 201222 Jul 2012
Conference number: 20


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