Lean construction between theory and practice: A case study of the Irish construction sector

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Kharade, Ameya Vilas
Issue Date
MBA in Project Management
Dublin Business School
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Lean manufacturing is a well-known management philosophy and has found widespread application in the industry. Lean Construction applies the same philosophy to construction activities. The reception of Lean in construction was lukewarm initially and it has been slow to open to academic debate. This could be due to the fact that Lean being a manufacturing based philosophy was considered incompatible with construction. In any case, more and more companies across the world are beginning to take up Lean for various reasons. This study was conducted in the Irish Construction Sector with an inductive and qualitative approach and hopes to examine the differences between Lean Construction in theory and in practice. Primary qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with personnel involved with Lean construction in Irish Companies. Secondary qualitative data was obtained through Lean Construction Ireland’s open source company case studies. The data was then coded and analysed using the software NVivo 12. Lean Construction is mostly implemented in textbook fashion especially in the area of achieving work flow balance. In the areas of value creation and to a degree, waste management however, it’s a different story. Seminal literature on Lean argues that value is best left up to the client to decide but the constant changing of value by the clients complicates value creation according to this study. On the subject of waste management, the Lean concept of ‘Do it right the first time was found to be impractical in a construction context as some form of waste will always exist. As things stand, there is little academic literature on the topic of Lean Construction in the Irish Construction Sector. This study hopes to fill this gap in the knowledge through the opinions and experiences of those involved in this field.