Ireland is emerging from a deep recession following a 75% reduction in Architectural, Engineering & Construction (AEC) output, causing reduced demand, employee redundancies, workforce emigration and company closures. This paper proposes Lean Construction (LC) as an antidote. However, LC theory is not widely taught in Irish universities and field research and case studies are very limited – sector research is 0.002% of industry research expenditure. LC is in its early stages in Ireland and is gaining momentum thanks to the Lean Construction Institute Ireland (LCII) Community of Practice (CoP). This paper looks at professionals understanding of lean and LC and compares LC theory with current practice. Research was gathered through a literature review, three surveys (n=48; n=42; n=116), three focus groups (n=22) and eight interviews (six expert) and was analysed through NVivo Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS). The main findings show that LC theory does not compare strongly to practice. However, lean tools in large companies (200+ employees) appear widespread. While LC is far from commonplace, practitioners are focused on “wins” and “proof” rather than the management philosophy that is LC. Future education, training and increased research will show a different perspective – practice relating more strongly to theory.
Lean, lean construction, theory, Community of Practice, thematic analysis
Ebbs, P.J. , Sexton, P. , Greensmith, D.G. , Clare, B.G. , Gibson, V. & Turner, R. 2015, 'Lean Construction Theory and Practice: An Irish Perspective' 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 496-506