Construction as a Complex System

Sven Bertelsen1

1M.Sc. consulting engineer. Sven Bertelsen Strategic Counselor aps. Senior Research Advisor to Lean Construction – Denmark.


Complexity and complex systems’ theory are issues coming more and more into focus as it seems that most systems in our lives must be understood in this perspective. This new way of understanding, explains features otherwise ignored or considered noise in an ordered perspective. The paper argues that construction should also be understood as a complex, dynamic phenomenon. It analyzes the construction process, the production system and the industry, as well as the social systems formed by humans involved in the project execution from a complexity perspective using a number of general characteristics of complex systems. It finds all of these characteristics present in the construction system. The paper concludes that the complexity view should thus be more in focus when discussing new project management paradigms.


Construction; complex dynamic systems; project management; chaos



Bertelsen, S. 2003, 'Construction as a Complex System' In:, 11th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Virginia, USA, 1-.

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