Knowledge based facilities management

Zehra Waheed (School of the Built Environment, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Scott Fernie (School of the Built Environment, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)


ISSN: 0263-2772

Publication date: 21 May 2009



Facilities management has inherited the understanding of how organisations work as value creators from various management models such as Porter's, where value is created through “primary” and “support” activities. The gap between the aspiration of strategic relevance and reality has prompted the facilities management profession to begin to address the question of whether facilities management is a legitimate discipline with attendant theories, research and practice. This paper attempts to bring an alternative theoretical perspective to such aspirations.


Facilities management arrangements and their value as a key organisational competence are outlined. Finally knowledge‐based functional competency is described that encapsulates the new perspective.


The paper provides an alternative perspective that will facilitate its acceptance as a strategically placed corporate function. A new knowledge‐based legitimisation for facilities management is proposed, marking a shift from facilities management's functional knowledge to an organisation‐wide knowledge base.

Practical implications

The way the discipline of facilities management is located within the business organisation sees its primary role in being fundamentally “supportive” to the parent organisation's primary function whether it is product provision or service delivery. This is problematic for a discipline that has been trying to align itself as strategically oriented. This orientation needs to be redefined to allow facilities management to be rather seen as a knowledge‐based core competency and a function that permeates the boundaries of primary and support functions.


The paper encourages wider debate and dialogue within the community on what appears to be a pivotal crossroads in the development of the discipline.



Waheed, Z. and Fernie, S. (2009), "Knowledge based facilities management", Facilities, Vol. 27 No. 7/8, pp. 258-266.

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