Making sense of supply chain management in UK construction organisations : theory versus practice
Supply chain management is one of the newest and most fashionable managerial concepts to be sponsored by those organisations responsible for setting the change agenda in the construction sector. Its success elsewhere, its promise of productivity improvement and 'best practice' pedigree form the basis of arguments for its adoption in the construction sector. There are a number of assumptions that underpin this argument that are largely ignored by the promoters of such change and the construction management research community. Most notably, the transferability and utility of supply chain management in the context of organisations competing in the construction sector. However, it is argued in this thesis that these arguments fail to engage with the recursive relationship between context and practice. Managerial practice does not exist in a vacuum. The research therefore sets out to test the theory of supply chain management in the construction sector. In doing so, the research approach is informed by and draws on contextual approaches that are highly sensitive to the recursive relationship between context and practice. A multiple case study research strategy was chosen that sought to provide explanations for how practitioners make sense of supply chain management in the context of their organisations and forms the basis of theory testing. These explanations also provided a wealth of empirical evidence to test the assumptions that underpin calls for change in the construction sector. It is concluded that supply chain management does not make sense in the construction sector and that calls for its adoption lacked intellectual rigour and were indeed acontextual.