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Industrialised house building: fundamental change or business as usual?
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.).
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Criticism concerning quality deficiencies and high production costs for housing has made many construction companies make efforts to improve performance, inspired by ideas from the manufacturing industry and in particular the car industry. This is often referred to as industrialised building. The ideas are not new but so far their spread has been limited. This study covers two years of one current effort to industrialise house building in a Swedish construction company, the Peab group. An investment in a new factory for automated production of concrete building elements had been made and start up of production in the factory took place during the time of the study. Two subunits, a contractor and a structural building element supplier were involved in the industrialisation effort and the study is confined to these. To improve performance, a prefabricated building system including Peab standards was to be developed and used across the organisation, instead of the existing local solutions. A project, Peab Gemensamt System concept (PGS), was established to conduct the task. The focus for the study is on the facilitators and barriers to make organisational changes for the purpose of industrialising house building in a construction company. Observations were made at meetings with the PGS core team and the involved Peab group staff was interviewed. Notions of organisational competence and embedded knowledge and action were applied to describe the studied company’s specific organisational context and to identify facilitators and barriers. Conclusions concern how organisational context, content of change and the change process interrelated and formed the outcome. In this case, fundamental ideas for change became local attempts. Establishing a project, PGS, for conducting change was new to the target organisation. Facilitators were not created to allow the organisation to learn to change in this new way. The PGS project could therefore not contribute directly to change. One building project introduced a prefabricated building system. It was beyond the team’s control to make necessary changes to benefit from it. Therefore, temporary adaptations to prevailing organisational conditions were made. Another building project introduced a new way of working during the detail design stage. It was within the team’s control to make necessary changes to benefit from it. Existing organisational competence could therefore be enhanced. The new factory had the potential to rationalise production of building elements, but it did not automatically solve problems related to the collaboration between the building element supplier and the contractor. Issues for improving performance through the studied ideas for industrialisation emerge from this. These concern combining the contractor’s and building element supplier’s different ways of working; meeting customer requirements while realising certain industrialisation ideas; and the roles of the permanent and temporary organisations for embedding knowledge without losing flexibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2006. , 197 p.
Trita-IEO, ISSN 1100-7982 ; 2006:14
Keyword [en]
Industrialised house building, organisational change, organisational competence, embedded knowledge and action
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4120ISBN: 91-7178-413-6OAI: diva2:10819
Public defence
2006-10-23, Kollegiesalen, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00
QC 20100924Available from: 2006-10-02 Created: 2006-10-02 Last updated: 2010-09-24Bibliographically approved

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