Lean Construction as an Emergent Operations Strategy

Helena Lidelöw1 & Kajsa Simu2

1Associate professor, Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, SE-971 87 Luleå, SWEDEN, +46 70 33 40 766, helena.lidelow@ltu.se
2Adjunct Lecturer, Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, SE-971 87 Luleå, SWEDEN, +46 70 589 98 96, kajsa.simu@ltu.se

Abstract

All companies have an operations strategy; a pattern of decisions made in operations with the purpose to support the business strategy. Lean Construction can be seen as an operations strategy. Under the assumption that an operations strategy is emergent, it should be traceable on the tactical level of a company. The aim of this research is to detect the emergent operations strategy at construction companies and contrast it with existing research on decision categories. An interview study with nine middle managers at different Swedish contractors was organised. All respondents are active on the tactical level of their respective companies. The in-depth interviews were transcribed and the transcriptions analysed to identify categories that are focused in daily operational decisions. According to operations management literature, it is in the daily decision making that the operations strategy is created and enacted. The differences between companies with and without a Lean implementation were analysed. Some of the managers claiming to work according to Lean principles displayed many similarities with managers which are not. Furthermore, managers (and their companies) without a clear statement on Lean implementation still embrace many of the basic Lean principles. The emerging categories were compared to existing publications of decision categories. The result shows that Lean principles can constitute part of a construction company’s operations strategy without them having an acclaimed Lean implementation. Treating the operations strategy as emergent from daily actions is a successful way of detecting it.

Keywords

Operations, process, production, production system design, strategy

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Reference

Lidelöw, H. & Simu, K. 2016, 'Lean Construction as an Emergent Operations Strategy' In:, 24th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Boston, USA, 20-22 Jul 2016.

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