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Synthesising performance in the construction industry: An analysis of performance indicators to promote project improvement

Felipe Mellado (School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK) (Innovation Centre of Applied Engineering, Universidad Católica del Maule, Talca, Chile)
Eric C.W. Lou (School of Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Christian L. Correa Becerra (Innovation Centre of Applied Engineering, Universidad Católica del Maule, Talca, Chile)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 23 September 2019

Issue publication date: 18 February 2020

Abstract

Purpose

There is a long-standing interest in performance improvement within the construction industry. Approaches based upon cost, time and quality (often called the Iron Triangle), have been the focus of attention despite criticism of the validity of the Iron Triangle as a performance measure due to its simplistic approach. Furthermore, little emphasis has been placed on synthesising performance to understand whether this concept has evolved from the traditional view. An analysis of prominent literature was reviewed by classifying performance indicators which establish criteria for measuring performance in the construction industry. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature (1998–2018) on performance at a project level to determine a final rank of key performance indicators (KPIs) which will establish how projects are currently being measured.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses a combined qualitative and quantitative approach – a comprehensive literature review on overall performance at a project level and the statistical Kendall’s W test to find concordance among the authors on performance in the construction industry to determine a final rank of KPIs.

Findings

The results demonstrate there is no congruent correlation on what performance is and the traditional iron triangle of “cost-time-quality” is still the preferred method of analysing performance, despite it being proven to be ineffective.

Originality/value

Performance in the construction industry is an ambiguous concept that can be interpreted differently by the construction industry’s stakeholders. Despite this lack of concordance, a starting point on the definition of performance can be obtained from the literature. The paper presents a final rank of KPIs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is supported by BECAS Chile (Folio 72170109), National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), Ministry of Education, Chile.

Citation

Mellado, F., Lou, E.C.W. and Becerra, C.L.C. (2020), "Synthesising performance in the construction industry: An analysis of performance indicators to promote project improvement", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 579-608. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-09-2018-0419

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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