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Purpose: Construction is repeatedly criticised for its low productivity based on statistical data that do not represent the output of construction adequately. The purpose of this paper is to improve the understanding of construction output – being the numerator in construction productivity calculations – by focussing on changes in quantity of the products, product characteristics and composition of the aggregate rather than as changes in price. Design/methodology/approach: The research design of this study applies statistical data from the national accounts along with data from four paradigmatic case studies of social housing projects covering a period of 50 years. Findings: The results indicate that while construction output prices have increased threefold over the past 50 years, improvements in performance can only explain approximately 20 per cent. Research limitations/implications: The developed four-step method has demonstrated its value as a means to measure changes in the characteristics of the product, but more studies on the actual figures and results over time and regions are required before solid conclusions can be drawn. Social implications: This study has added new knowledge of construction output that supports the development of a more accurate construction statistics, which in turn can assist the design of more effective and evidence-based policies for improving construction productivity. Originality/value: This paper describes and demonstrates a novel performance-based methodology for addressing changes in the characteristics of the products in a longitudinally perspective, which can potentially provide a better understanding of changes in productivity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)794-813
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019


  • Organization
  • Innovation
  • Process
  • Value management
  • Management
  • Productivity


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