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Innovation and ancient Roman facilities management

Jan Bröchner (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Article publication date: 28 September 2010




The purpose of this paper is to review facilities management among the ancient Romans with an emphasis on features that are relevant for understanding the evolution of current innovative practices.


Ancient Roman literary sources, inscriptions, other archaeological findings and secondary literature are used to identify facilities management functions and facilities managers. The advanced management of public baths and gymnasia is discussed as well as relations between lifestyles and workplaces. Roman information technology and contractual skills are included.


It is meaningful to speak of facilities managers in Roman times, although mostly for buildings such as baths with complex technologies. There is a striking lack of differentiation between offices and homes, and the meanings of work and leisure were understood differently. Primitive information technology is a possible explanation, although it did not impede the development of contracts with detailed service‐level agreements. Availability and use of energy in facilities emerges as the most important change.


Recent studies of innovations in facilities management concern very short‐time periods. In this paper, the long historical perspective allows identifying the importance of large technology shifts. Practitioners may benefit from implications for specialised building design, in particular the link between a particular level of information technology and the need for offices.



Bröchner, J. (2010), "Innovation and ancient Roman facilities management", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 246-255.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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