On the metaphysics of production

Lauri Koskela, Mike Kagioglou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Since the pre-Socratic period of philosophy, there have been two basic metaphysical views. One holds that there are substances or things, that is, atemporal entities in the world. The other insists that there are processes, that is, intrinsically temporal phenomena. These metaphysical assumptions tend to strongly influence how the subject of the inquiry or action is conceptualized. The thing-oriented view seems to lead to analytical decomposition, the requirement or assumption of certainty and an ahistorical approach. The process-oriented view is related to a holistic orientation, acknowledgement of uncertainty and to a historical and contextual approach. It can be argued that production is intrinsically a process oriented endeavour. However, an analysis of current conceptualizations and methods shows that it is the thing-oriented view on the world that has dominated the research and practice of production management. The resulting mismatch between the assumed nature and true nature of production has arguably led to major generic failures of production management. As a conclusion, it is contended that the discipline of production management has to seriously address the metaphysical issues confronting both practitioners and scholars.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th International Group for Lean Construction Conference
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings
EditorsRussell Kenley
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event13th International Group for Lean Construction Conference - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 19 Jul 200521 Jul 2005
Conference number: 13


Conference13th International Group for Lean Construction Conference
Abbreviated titleIGLC 2005


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