Special Issue on Managing Engineering Projects

Click here for PDF of this call. First draft submissions due 1 Jun 2011.

Engineering construction is the sector of the construction industry which is concerned with the design and delivery of industrial plant. It encompasses the construction of structures for the oil and gas industries (both on-shore and off-shore), power generation (conventional, renewable and nuclear), processing and manufacturing industries and water and environmental works.

Engineering construction (certainly at the level of clients and EPC contractors) is a truly global endeavour. Multi-national and multi-cultural projects are the norm encompassing a wide range of disciplines in addition to civil and structural engineering such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control and systems engineering, structural and pipe fabricators, contractor services and logistics. Engineering construction has a substantial proportion of megaprojects (projects with a delivered value of greater than $0.5 billion.) For example, the final cost of Shell’s Pearl GTL project in Qatar is estimated at over $20 billion. Even less complex engineering construction projects can still fall into the category of megaprojects: the Greater Gabbard Off-shore Wind Farm, commissioned by Scottish and Southern Energy, will cost in the region of $2 billion.

The network of stakeholder relationships in engineering construction is different from those exhibited in other construction arena. In some ways, stakeholder interactions are easier to map in engineering construction. Projects have primary users who are usually responsible for commissioning that project. (This is unlike the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in the development of a large infrastructural project such as a bridge.) However the large scale of engineering construction projects often demands complex governance for financing (such a multiple joint ventures) where the role of client and contractor will become merged.

Despite the substantive structural and contextual differences between engineering construction and other construction sectors, the implications of these differences on the nature of construction management have not been explored. Issues of governance, complexity, partnering, project management, stakeholder mapping, human resource management, productivity, and constructability all have the potential to need different approaches in engineering construction. Indeed, much of the work that has been undertaken on deriving research agenda for construction management has adopted an undifferentiated stance (or has implicitly ignored engineering construction from its consideration.) Furthermore, much of the quantitative work that has been undertaken on construction megaprojects has only looked at publically funded large infrastructure projects.

The aim of this special issue is, therefore, to initiate a debate on the differences and similarities in managing engineering construction (as opposed to other construction sectors) and the implications that these may have for construction management research and practice. Through this debate, the special issue seeks to establish if the theoretical constructs generally used to elucidate construction management work in an engineering construction context or if new theory is needed. It also seeks to establish if interpreting existing empirical work in the light of an engineering construction context yields new insights.

Contributions are sought from across the spectrum of issues embraced by construction management. Contributors should consider these issues specifically in an engineering construction milieu and should address the debate that underpins this special issue in terms of the differences and similarities in managing engineering construction. Contributions are welcomed from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

Issues that contributors may wish to cover can include (but are not confined to):
project performativity and ‘failure’
knowledge management
innovation
partnering and alliancing
human resource management
decision-making
information systems
‘lean’ and other productivity approaches
risk management
constructability
sustainability
supply chain management

The Guest Editor for the special issue is happy to discuss ideas for papers:

Naomi Brookes PhD DIC FHEA, Professor of Complex Project Management, School of Civil Engineering, The University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK E-mail: n.j.brookes@leeds.ac.uk

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About Will

Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK. Editor-in-Chief, Construction Management and Economics (1992-2016). Programme Director, MSc Construction Management. School Director of Postgraduate Teaching Programmes.
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