Exploring Crew Behavior During Uncertain Jobsite Conditions

Ankur Paresh Desai1 & Tariq Sami Abdelhamid2

1Ankur Desai, MS Construction Management, Michigan State University. Phone: 517-775-9989. Email: desaian5@msu.edu
2Dr. Tariq Abdelhamid, Associate Professor at School of Planning Design and Construction, Michigan State University. 214 Human Ecology, East Lansing Michigan 48824. Phone: 517.432.8108 Email: tariq@msu.edu


The dynamism and the inherent interactive nature of construction projects make them highly uncertain in nature and thus prone to unexpected events. Project level planning methods in construction assume a degree of certainty that is absent on projects. Unexpected events (such as equipment breakdown, coordination miscues, discrepancy between specs and drawings, etc.) are typically addressed by having the crew wait for a foreman or superintendent to find ways to handle the issue. This is a command and control structure that depends on a centrally controlling body. The research explores the question of whether the crew should wait for instructions or address the issue on their own. The research tests the hypothesis that a self-managed and autonomous construction crew will help combat the unexpected event more effectively than waiting for a resolution by a centrally controlling body. The two approaches are contrasted and compared for their effectiveness in dealing with unexpected events. An Agent based model shows; the delay caused by the same damage was on average 40% lower for the crew making its own decisions compared to the crew that depended on the superintendent. Considering that the model takes into account the erroneous decisions made by the crew, the prima facie result shows that allowing crews to be autonomous is an effective strategy on the long run. As a result of the crews solving problems, the superintendent is also expected to have more opportunities to concentrate on improving the coordination and planning of work on site.


Production Management, Uncertainty, Autonomous Crews, Self-managed Crews



Desai, A.P. & Abdelhamid, T.S. 2012, 'Exploring Crew Behavior During Uncertain Jobsite Conditions' In:, Tommelein, I.D. & Pasquire, C.L., 20th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. San Diego, USA, 18-20 Jul 2012.

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