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Conceptualising value for construction: experience from social housing projects in Chile

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posted on 29.02.2012, 13:39 by Jose Salvatierra-Garrido
Through the years, the concept of Value has been widely discussed covering diverse fields of knowledge, such as marketing, business management, strategy, engineering, design, and the like. Within the construction industry field, highly praised management approaches have been used to deliver Value such as Value Engineering, Value Management and Lean Thinking. As a result of the complex nature of this concept, different definitions, equations and models have been proposed to mainly deliver Value from a customer focused perspective. Therefore, the potential of the construction industry has been usually limited by the fulfilment of individual requirements. Thus, environmental and social issues have been generally managed from a bill payer perspective. During the course of this research, Chilean experience in Social Housing Projects was investigated. Initial author observation, analysis of governmental policies and data collected from three case studies allowed to evidence an emergent phenomenon in developing countries such as Chile and in the construction sector experience in general. This phenomenon considers Value as an oscillating concept, which means Value delivered by a particular construction project continuously impacts society in a wide sense, and provides a legacy for future generations. In the same way, Value delivered for particular projects affects in turn those judgments concerning future projects and contribute with the permanent improvement of the construction sector s performance (learning from experience). Consequently, the construction industry contributes to the development of society through the alleviation of environmental & society issues such as drug consumption, social risk, public safety and so forth. Along the time, the decisions and activities of the construction industry have influenced more than a reduced set of customers. Therefore, there is no reasoning against the fact that the human species depends on many sorts of building and infrastructure projects to perform their activities and that the more developed a society or country is, the more such structures are needed. This is an absolute matter of fact. Consequently, building projects as the outcome of build environment could be considered as the physical reflection of our current decisions. They represent major investments in the future delivery, where several human, natural, monetary and technological resources are devoted. Those projects provide a legacy to future generations based on what we have valued today, and how much we care about tomorrow and the stability of our ecosystem. Therefore, the concept of Value in the construction management field should be visualised from a wider perspective towards the consideration of universal environmental & social issues. The consideration of this phenomenon is even more important in developing countries, where opportunities still exist to create a well-balanced built environment that supports society. In an attempt to conceptualise a wider view of Value in the construction industry, different approached to manage Value were investigated. As a result, Lean Thinking arose as a potential philosophy to expand common customer focused Value perspectives. Additionally, different features and multidimensional attributes of the concept of Value were identified. To aid the visualisation of Value in the construction industry, a conceptual model was developed and named the First and Last Value Model F&LVM. According to this model, the delivery of Value spans across two different contexts: First context, which refers to Value delivery to the society (First Value: Environmental & Social issues), and Last context, which deals with Value delivery at project level (Last Value: Production process). This model also considers the interaction between three Value domains: Production & Delivery capacity; Stakeholders perspective; and Social perspective. From this interaction, four central perspectives are included towards a wider visualisation of Value: Technological, economic, environmental and political. Moreover, this model considers Value as an objective, subjective, dynamic, context dependent, relative, and oscillating concept. Finally, the F&LVM was evaluated under the criteria of both researchers and practitioners from Lean Construction, whose potential contributes to a sustainable development. Evaluator s feedback demonstrated that this model contributes to a wider conceptualisation of Value in the construction industry.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Jose Salvatierra-Garrido

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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