Critical Success Factors for Lean Construction Intervention

  • Steven Anthony Ward

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Despite the successful application of lean thinking across a wide range of industries, and a number of UK Government funded programmes such as the Construction Lean Improvement Programme and Constructing Excellence, the construction sector lags behind other sectors as highlighted in the Egan Report (1998) and more recently in Sir John Egan’s speech to the House of Commons in 2008 which gave the construction industry “four out of ten – for trying.”
    This led to the research question: What are the critical success factors for lean construction interventions?
    The emergence of lean production as a concept and the contributions of its key historic influencers are explored. Differences between construction and manufacturing are compared and discussed, and it is concluded that there is no practical reason why lean production cannot be successfully applied to construction operations. However, the issue of buildings being “rooted-in-place” is a potential barrier to true global competition.
    Progress was made towards a satisfactory definition of lean construction, a term hitherto ill-defined. Nineteen potential critical success factors (CSF) were identified in a literature review. A pilot study conducted with senior construction staff experienced in lean construction identified a further seven potential critical success factors and discounted three derived from the literature. Face-to-face interviews with thirty-one construction staff that had attempted lean construction interventions were conducted to examine the significance of each factor. Of the interventions, twenty-six were successful and six were failures. Statistical analysis compared the failure and success groups and of a total of twenty-three factors examined, thirteen were critical, two important, seven not critical and one unknown.
    Some of the most cited lean critical success factors, for example “There must be a crisis”, were shown to be not significantly important for the construction sector. Interdependencies between the statistically significant factors were explored and it was concluded that a wide concern with “getting buy-in” exists. Three factors appeared to possess a greater ability to influence all the others: the capability of management; client influence; and the right facilitator.

    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRobert Horner (Supervisor)


    • Lean construction
    • Critical success factors
    • Intervention
    • Definition

    Cite this