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Drivers for construction productivity

Jeff Seadon (Department of Built Environment Engineering, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
John E. Tookey (School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 28 February 2019

Issue publication date: 10 July 2019




The New Zealand construction sector is similar to many other countries with a few large companies and many small and micro enterprises. It seeks to achieve a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020 which requires a step change in how the sector operates and buy-in from key stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to provide a set of levers to improve productivity in the construction sector and develop an implementation schedule.


This paper adopts a systems approach taking account of the nature of the building sector and the whole life cycle of a building from design to end-of-life. Information gained from the post-construction phases informs the pre-construction and construction phases.


Productivity is an integrated model whereby increases in process efficiency are executed with quality materials and workmanship, in a manner that is affordable for both the client and contractor and sustainable over time. A series of interviews and workshops produced 10 nodal points and 19 crucial levers which were prioritised for implementation. Additionally, indicators were developed to monitor progress over time and provide information for further corrective action to the system.

Practical implications

The effect of using a few targeted levers in unison provided significantly more gains than individual applications. Modelling real world responses to process stimuli outlined in this paper is extremely valuable. This provided the opportunity for key construction stakeholders to estimate the effects of decision making during a project.


Previous studies identified factors affecting productivity. Piecemeal approaches to improve productivity have resulted in systemic failure. A whole of life approach provides valuable insights to improve productivity in the construction and pre-construction phases which have a flow-on effect through the life cycle. Importantly, this research proposes drivers, an implementation scheme and indicators that provide leverage on nodal points to improve productivity.



Seadon, J. and Tookey, J.E. (2019), "Drivers for construction productivity", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 945-961.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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