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Design Performance Measurement in the Construction Sector: A Pilot Study




This paper examines the role and deployment of design performance measurements (DPMs) in the construction industry, focusing on the consulting engineering sector, the design 'heart' of construction. Compared with manufacturing, there has been very little research on the use of DPMs in construction, and firms often struggle to find appropriate performance indicators. Using results from structured questionnaires, the paper shows that the few DPMs which do exist focus mainly on cost. Other measures are needed to address quality, innovative performance and client satisfaction. In contrast to manufacturing, DPMs in construction also need to address the project-based, multi-firm and non-routine nature of construction design, as well as the separation of design from manufacturing, build and operation. Interviews and workshops with industrialists were used to identify recent DPM practices in construction and combine these with lessons from other sectors. The resulting DPM tools provide guidance on how to: (a) integrate design into wider business processes in construction; (b) identify key design indicators, at both project and firm level; and (c) use DPMs to provide a balanced scorecard for design performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Torbett & Ammon J Salter & David M Gann & Mike Hobday, 2001. "Design Performance Measurement in the Construction Sector: A Pilot Study," SPRU Working Paper Series 66, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:66

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barlow, James, 2000. "Innovation and learning in complex offshore construction projects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(7-8), pages 973-989, August.
    2. Neely, Andy & Mills, John & Platts, Ken & Gregory, Mike & Richards, Huw, 1996. "Performance measurement system design: Should process based approaches be adopted?," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 423-431, December.
    3. Pisano, Gary P., 1996. "Learning-before-doing in the development of new process technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(7), pages 1097-1119, October.
    4. Walsh, Vivien, 1996. "Design, innovation and the boundaries of the firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 509-529, June.
    5. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-596, September.
    6. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    7. Pawar, Kulwant S. & Driva, Helen, 1999. "Performance measurement for product design and development in a manufacturing environment," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 61-68, April.
    8. Pistorius, C. W. I. & Utterback, J. M., 1997. "Multi-mode interaction among technologies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 67-84, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Beatrice D'Ippolito, 2014. "The importance of design for firms' competitiveness: a review of the literature," Working Papers hal-00936947, HAL.
    2. Beatrice D'Ippolito, 2014. "The importance of design for firms' competitiveness: a review of the literature," Working paper serie RMT - Grenoble Ecole de Management hal-00936947, HAL.

    More about this item


    performance indicators; design integration; design indicators; construction industry;

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L74 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Construction
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy


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