Interplay of Lean Thinking and Social Dynamics in Construction

Vicente A. González1, Rafael Sacks2, Ignacio Pavez3, Mani Poshdar4, Lola Ben Alon5 & Vitaly Priven6

1Visiting Scholar, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. E-Mail: v.gonzalez@auckland.ac.nz
2Assoc. Professor and Head, Department of Structural Engineering and Construction Management, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. E-Mail: cvsacks@technion.ac.il
3PhD Candidate, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, , Cleveland, USA. E-Mail: ignacio.pavez@case.edu
4PhD Candidate, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. E-Mail: mpos814@auckland.ac.nz
5MSc Student, Department of Structural Engineering and Construction Management, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. E-Mail: slola@tx.technion.ac.il
6PhD Candidate, Department of Structural Engineering and Construction Management, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. E-Mail: vitaliyp@technion.ac.il

Abstract

Production, commercial, technical, organizational and social aspects must be managed simultaneously for a construction project to be successfully delivered. However, most management approaches in construction are technically-oriented methodologies that largely neglect central social aspects related to people’s behaviour. Lean construction research has likewise focused more on technical and commercial aspects than on social aspects. Recent research in the domain has aroused interest in various social aspects, such as the language-action-perspective, people development, culture and transformation, and integral theory. Yet little research has been pursued to understand the interactions between lean construction thinking and the social dynamics within construction project organizations. To begin to bridge this gap, the latent synergy and feedback loops between lean construction practices and social dynamics variables such as trust, goal setting and power distance in construction are discussed in this paper. The interplay between lean construction tools and the social dynamics variables is illustrated through an example based on the Last Planner System (LPS). We argue that lean tools work better when the environment is less autocratic, the team is more integrated, and the levels of trust between project team members are higher. In this organizational environment power-distance is decreased. Lean and goal setting also seem to interact positively and motivate the team.

Keywords

Goal Setting, Last Planner System, Power Distance, Social Dynamics, Trust.

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Reference

González, V.A. , Sacks, R. , Pavez, I. , Poshdar, M. , Alon, L.B. & Priven, V. 2015, 'Interplay of Lean Thinking and Social Dynamics in Construction' In:, Seppänen, O., González, V.A. & Arroyo, P., 23rd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Perth, Australia, 29-31 Jul 2015. pp 681-690

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