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A systems thinking approach for incremental reduction of non-physical waste

Temitope Omotayo (Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Ayokunle Olanipekun (Massey University–Hokowhitu Campus, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Lovelin Obi (School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Prince Boateng (Built and Natural Environment, Koforidua Technical University, koforidua, Ghana)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 3 July 2020

Issue publication date: 4 September 2020




Continual cost reduction of overhead costs of building projects can realign the concept of post-contract cost control towards value-driven construction projects and stakeholders’ satisfaction. This study synthesised and analysed the viable continuous improvement measures critical for waste reduction during the execution phase of a building project.


A review of existing literature facilitated a list of continuous improvement measures. This literature review findings enabled a Likert-scale questionnaire which was administered to two-hundred and fifty (250) small- and medium-scale construction companies (SMSCC) in Nigeria. Multiple linear regression statistical tests deduced the significant cost reduction measure from which a causal loop diagram was designed to indicate continuous improvement measures during the execution phase of a building project.


Cogent construction activities associated with overhead costs were deduced from the statistical tests as being payment of suppliers and sub-contractors and purchase orders. An all-inclusive casual loop model for cost reduction through waste minimisation in construction projects as a viable oriented mechanism for meeting clients' requirements was developed.

Practical implications

The causal loop continuous improvement model recognised external and internal factors which are crucial for SMSCC to focus on for their organisational growth and performance enhancement.


A focus on non-physical waste in construction organisations potentially addresses behavioural challenges for continuous improvement.



Omotayo, T., Olanipekun, A., Obi, L. and Boateng, P. (2020), "A systems thinking approach for incremental reduction of non-physical waste", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 509-528.



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