Modern methods of construction: beyond productivity improvement
Guest Editor: Stuart D. Green (University of Reading)
Deadline for abstract submission: 13 SEPTEMBER 2021
Full details downloadable here
What are the potential unintended consequences of modern methods of construction which are not currently considered?
This special issue investigates the externalities of modern methods of construction (MMC). It examines the dominant narrative used to promote MMC. Although an increased proportion of pre-manufactured value (PMV) may improve narrowly-defined site-based ‘productivity’, evidence is needed on the associated externalities and potential long-term adverse systemic consequences. What can be learned from previous attempts to modernise the construction process with industrialised methods?
The aim of this special issue is to examine the assumptions underpinning the prevailing ‘presumption in favour’ of MMC. Contributions will provide evidence about the externalities which lie beyond the narrowly-defined construct of productivity. Priority will be given to empirical papers aimed at exploring the systemic consequences of an ever-increasing proportion of PMV in construction. The special issue is open to a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods using primary and/or secondary data. Contextualised case studies are especially welcome.
Beyond productivity improvement
The definition of MMC remains problematic, but an emerging consensus is that MMC is best understood on the basis of pre-manufactured value (PMV) – i.e. the proportion of offsite construction as a percentage of the total measured works. But as yet there is little research which extends beyond the traditional drivers of time, cost, quality and productivity. Much of the research which does exist comprises opinion surveys on levels of adoption, and perceived barriers to implementation. What remains largely unexplored are the temporal externalities which extend beyond the construction phase. Little evidence exists on the implications of MMC for the material fabric of the built environment. There is also a recurring reluctance to learn the lessons of the past. This is of particular concern within the context of housing, although it applies equally to other sectors.
Scant research and data exist on the implications of MMC for the performance and longevity of buildings, and their ability to respond over time to shifting societal and occupant needs. The durability and adaptability of buildings are of central importance for resource consumption and for the achievement of a net-zero carbon economy. Particular concerns relate to environmental performance and occupant wellbeing After London’s Grenfell Tower fire, there are also significant concerns regarding the implications of MMC for fire safety.
Notwithstanding the above, any significant increase in the proportion of PMV is also likely to have systemic consequences for the economic structure of the sector. Particular concerns relate to employment practices and the potentially adverse implications for skills within local communities. The increasing emphasis on PMV further exposes the construction sector to competition from global manufacturing firms, with significant implications for the barriers to entry and the national balance of payments. Additional questions relate to lack of transparency in global supply chains, with direct implications for the risk of labour exploitation. Outsourcing sub-assembly processes to geographically remote locations can reduce standards of environmental protection.
- Business models
- Macro-economic implications
- Environmental impacts
- Building fabric
- Quality and liability
- Employment and skills
Deadline for abstract submission: 13 September 2021
Full papers due: 01 February 2022
Referees' comments: 29 March 2022
Final version due: 27 May 2022
Publication: July 2022
Note: papers are published as soon as they are accepted and therefore some papers will progress faster and appear in advance of the whole issue.
Submission details and further information: