Importance of Partners in a Challenging Lean Journey

Jin Woo Jang1, Yong-Woo Kim2, Chan Jeong Park3 & Woo Suk Jang4



If a general contractor were to implement the Lean system on a construction project, the most important factor to the success of the project would the subcontractor’s ability to implement Lean. The focus of this paper is team building in the project to improve Lean performance. This paper presents GS E&C’s (Engineering and Construction, the general contractor) pilot projects for production control, where Lean construction was implemented in a construction project with its subcontractors. In Korea, GS E&C is one of the leading companies using Lean construction in the construction industry. The findings of GS E&C’s pilot projects indicated that in a construction project, it had had trouble with production controls without subcontractor support. Another project showed that Lean was more successfully implemented when the subcontractor had strong Lean implementation experience and capability. This resulted in a new challenge for the general contractor – how to build relationships with subcontractors and improve their capabilities to implement Lean construction. Active involvement in the entire construction process, enthusiasm for, commitment to, and motivation for implementation, and keeping an open mind about the changes, were all found to be very important when implementing Lean construction by both general contractor and subcontractor. This paper also discusses the prerequisites and barriers to the implementation of Lean with its subcontractor in Korean construction projects. These pilot projects investigate the possibilities of achieving closer alignment between GS E&C and its subcontractors. Such alignment may be achieved by implementing Lean production principles not only within, but across organizational boundaries.


Lean IT system, team building, subcontractor, and case study.



Jang, J. W. , Kim, Y. , Park, C. J. & Jang, W. S. 2007. Importance of Partners in a Challenging Lean Journey, 15th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 465-474.

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