Construction Beyond Lean: A New Understanding of Construction Management

Sven Bertelsen1 & La uri Koskela2

1Consulting Engineer, M.Sc. Strategic Counselors ltd, Morlenesvej 22, DK 2840 Holte, Denmark. Phone +45 4542 4705. [email protected]
2Professor, D.Sc., The University of Salford, School of Construction & Property Management, Salford M7 lNU, United Kingdom, [email protected]


Lean Construction has existed in its own right for more than ten years. At the same time the five lean principles as outlined by Womack and Jones have gained a firm foothold in the manufacturing industries, and the term lean has thus become a household term in manufacturing. Unfortunately and confusingly, the understanding of lean has taken very different trajectories in these two communities. In manufacturing, it is often voiced that the (five) lean principles provide a mature understanding of the subject, i.e. the end point. However, in the same time the theory based understanding of construction management has moved beyond the generic lean theories and principles, embodied in the Toyota Production System, to encompass disciplines such as complexity, emergence, conversations, and lifelong learning. In construction, the Toyota Production System is thus rather a st~rting point. The paper establishes an overview of the principles guiding best practice project management today, and argues that lean construction has progressed beyond lean - at least in the sense propagated by Womack and Jones


Construction, management, lean, production



Bertelsen, S. & Koskela, L. U. 2004. Construction Beyond Lean: A New Understanding of Construction Management, 12th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -.

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