Assessing the Effects of Structural Differences on Action, Reaction and Conformation in Construction Projects

Antionio N. de Miranda Filho1, Jorge Moreira da Costa2 & Luiz F.M. Heineck3

1Civil Engineer, M.Sc., Ph.D. candidate, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal, Scholarship Holder of the Brazilian Government (CAPES), anmirandaf@yahoo.com.br
2Civil Engineer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal, jmfcosta@fe.up.pt
3Civil Engineer, Ph.D., Senior Professor, Production Engineering Department, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil. freitas8@terra.com.br

Abstract

Research studies indicate the existence of three generic ways for dealing with uncertainties: control, flexibility and buffers. These are the ways of assuring organizational robustness to support the proactive and reactive management of events that occur during the project. Traditionally, project management practices have strongly relied on the combined use of control and buffers. However, the increasing notion of project complexity has changed paradigms and pushed structural changes towards the development of flexibility capabilities. One such change is the adoption of a more flat organizational structure characterized by autonomy and decentralization, being its most visible aspect the multi-functional teams working as mobile production cells. This paper focuses on structural changes required for this type of flexibility and its effects on managers’ interventions and use of buffers. Interviews were conducted with project managers from five high rise building firms who adopt different organizational structures and a parallel between their distinct practices was established. The analysis of strategic contents shows the successful implementation of this type of flexibility as the result of strategic choices accompanied by bundles of best practices at the operational level and by proper decisions regarding the use of buffers at the tactical level.

Keywords

Flexibility, production cells, best practices, strategic choices.

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Reference

Filho, A.N.D.M. , Costa, J.M.D. & Heineck, L.F. 2007, 'Assessing the Effects of Structural Differences on Action, Reaction and Conformation in Construction Projects' In:, Pasquire, C.L, C.L. & Tzortzopoulos, P., 15th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. East Lansing, Michigan, USA, 18-20 Jul 2007. pp 380-389

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