Conceptual linkages between benchmarking, total quality management and construction productivity

The decline in construction productivity over the last two decades is an issue of wide concern when compared to manufacturing industry. There have been several calls for major reforms in the way that the construction industry operates if its performance is to be improved. There is, however, a general lack of credible suggestions for implementing these reforms. This paper examines benchmarking (a continuous and systematic process of comparing an organisation's efficiency in terms of productivity, quality and practices with those companies and organisations that represent excellence) as one such reform tool. Conceptual linkages between benchmarking, Total Quality Management (TQM), and construction productivity are also explored. TQM is suggested as a general framework for reform implementation with benchmarking as a tool for kick-starting managerial or organisational change processes. Benchmarking is presented as a viable tool for performance gap identification and quantification. The performance gap is seen as an important motivator for a company wishing to: take the initial step into TQM; and utilise benchmarking as a sustenance and acceleration tool through continuous comparison and improvement in the TQM implementation process.