Theory of Lean Construction

Lauri Koskela

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter endeavours to present a consolidated discussion on the theoretical and philosophical foundation of Lean and its instantiation in a particular context, such as construction. It is proposed that at its essence, Lean is a theoretical innovation: the theories and philosophical commitments underpinning Lean allow wider action options in comparison to mainstream operations management. The innovative features of Lean include the flow and value generation theories of production, process ontology and Aristotelian epistemology. In contrast, the traditional approach to production has been based on the transformation theory of production, thing ontology and Platonic epistemology. Lean Construction is argued to have evolved in two ways. Originally, Lean Construction started as local problem solving in production management, and gradually developed into a more comprehensive template, covering also contractual and organisational areas. Somewhat later, principles, methods and tools originating in the Toyota Production System have also increasingly been applied in or adapted to the context of construction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLean Construction
Subtitle of host publicationCore Concepts and New Frontiers
EditorsPatricia Tzortzopoulos, Mike Kagioglou, Lauri Koskela
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429203732
ISBN (Print)9780367196554
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2020


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