The application of the New Production Philosophy (Lean Production) in the construction industry is a challenge to both researchers and professionals due to its innovative approach to the management of production systems. In addition, the consolidation of a theory in this field demands the application of its concepts and principles in practical situations. However, the implementation of Lean Production concepts and principles faces some communication and learning barriers. This paper presents some of the results of a PhD research project concerned with the development of management competencies, which proposes an integrated use of action learning and cognitive approaches to encourage the application of Lean Production concepts and principles in construction management. This study assumes that learning is strongly influenced by cultural values and beliefs. This cultural approach to learning implies that the development of management competencies requires not only a set of new knowledge but also an in depth questioning process in order to develop adequate attitudes towards production management problems. A reflection on the meanings of Lean Production concepts and principles was undertaken, assuming that the adoption of this theoretical framework by the industry requires a change in the current construction management paradigm. The objective of this paper is to discuss Lean Production concepts and principles from a cultural perspective and the use of Action Learning approach to identify some cognitive and cultural barriers to the implementation of such managerial innovation. A discussion on Action Learning is followed by an analysis of the changes observed in the attitudes of one construction manager, who took part in an Action Learning set.
action learning, cognition, concept mapping, culture, lean construction, meaning