Optimising Construction Projects as Value Delivery Systems - Expanding the theoretical foundation
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In the last few decades, the advent of Lean Construction (LC) has been a driving force behind a paradigm shift in the construction industry. One of the greatest consequences has been the realisation that projects are indeed production system and the theoretical foundation that has been brought in along with this realisation. In the same period, there has also been a shift in the focus of project management. Previously it was centred on delivering the scope on time and budget. Now, the focus is increasingly on delivering value. Within the LC community, projects are seen as production systems whose goal is to produce value. I.e. projects are value delivery systems. How can we optimize them as such? From an engineering point of view, to be able to optimise a system, we must first understand the system and how it works at a fundamental level. While there is a heavy focus in Lean on delivering value, the theoretical foundation, strong as it is in many areas, does not provide this fundamental understanding. Value configuration is a term from the business literature that describes how companies are rigged for delivering value. The thesis argues that modern-day construction projects adhere to a value shop configuration rather than a value chain configuration. Where the focus of the value chain is the transformation of inputs into products, the focus of the value shop is to (re)solve customer problems. The existing theory provides a good foundation for understanding value delivery in value chain configure projects, but falls short for value shop configured ones. The motivation of the thesis is to develop a theoretical foundation for understanding value shop configured projects as value delivery systems, and how they can be optimised as such. The thesis is anchored in the pragmatic research paradigm. In this paradigm, truth is seen as a matter of useful belief. Thus, the goal of the thesis is to develop theoretical constructs that are useful for optimising projects value as delivery systems. To develop such constructs, the thesis employs a mixed-method strategy, relying primarily on conceptual research using abductive reasoning as the method of analysis, but also supplemented with empirical data from case studies. Before we can consider how to optimise a system, we need some notion of the output we desire from the system. While there is no contention in the research literature that the goal of projects is to deliver value, there is no agreement of what value is, which stakeholders the system should be concerned with delivering value to and specifically what is valuable for these stakeholders. The thesis starts with considering what is value?. Developing nine tenets on the nature of value, and synthesising a new comprehensive definition of value based on these. Thereafter, the thesis tackles the question of value for whom?. In this step, the thesis first shows that the stakeholder management literature provides no good answers to whose value matter. After that, the thesis develops a taxonomy of value delivery motivation. Based on this taxonomy and the factors therein, the thesis argues that whose value matters is highly subjective. It is therefore not possible to give a definitive and prescriptive answer on whose value matter. Instead, the thesis introduces the term value philosophy to describe the outlook someone has in this matter. What is valuable for different stakeholders is considered by presenting different factors that could influence their value. The value that is the most complex to grasp and manage is the value of the built asset for the client. Therefore, the thesis also develops a more detailed taxonomy of client product value. Having established some notion of the output of the system, the thesis moves on to consider the fundamental mechanics of the system and how they can be optimised. In this step, first, a new conceptual model for projects as value delivery systems — the Stakeholder Value Delivery model — is developed. Second, using the developed model as a theoretical framework, and supported by relevant theory and empirical data from case studies, the thesis develops 19 optimisation principles. Relate to the the overarching goal of the thesis—developing the theoretical foundation for understanding and optimising construction projects as value delivery systems— the thesis’s main contributions: • A robust and comprehensive definition of value—Founded on by nine fundamental tenets • The concept of value philosophy — Supported by a taxonomy of value delivery motivation • A taxonomy of client product value • A conceptual model of the value delivery process in construction projects— The Stakeholder Value Delivery Model • Nineteen principles for optimising value delivery in value shop configured construction projects. In addition to these primary theoretical constructs, the thesis also develops several ancillary ones. Taken together, all the developed theoretical constructs constitute a comprehensive and coherent framework for describing and discussing value delivery in construction projects.