What should we require from a production system in construction?

Lauri Koskela, Glenn Ballard

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

6 Citations (Scopus)


The paper endeavors to analyze the requirements to be set for a production system in construction, starting from first principles or, in other terms, from a theoretical foundation. It is argued that the theoretical foundation pertaining to construction production consists of three main parts: theory of production, theory of management and conceptualization of peculiarities of construction. According to present understanding of the theory of production, there are three views to production, each providing for a number of principles for the production system: transformation, flow and value generation. The theory of management implies that those principles are appropriately realized in all of the three generic managerial actions: design, operation and improvement of the production system. Furthermore, it is not enough to adopt generic requirements for the production system in construction, but rather it is required that the peculiarities of construction, such as one-of-a-kind production, site production and temporary organization are suitably accommodated. Lastly, it is required that all parts and aspects of the production system are synergistically coupled: the total optimum is sought, rather than a sum of local optima. The resulting theory-led requirements to a construction production system are summarized and compared to typical, present production systems in construction. It turns out that the present production systems do not - and are not even meant to - fulfill a number of crucial requirements. It is argued that this is the root cause of the internationally recognized malaise of construction. Current work aiming at defining and experimenting with a production system based on theory-led requirements is briefly reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstruction Research Cogress, Winds of Change
Subtitle of host publicationIntegration and Innovation in Construction, Proceedings of the Congress
EditorsKeith R. Molenaar, Paul S. Chinowsky
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)0784406715, 9780784406717
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes
EventConstruction Research Congress, Winds of Change: Integration and Innovation in Construction - Honolulu, United States
Duration: 19 Mar 200321 Mar 2003


ConferenceConstruction Research Congress, Winds of Change: Integration and Innovation in Construction
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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