1st Edition

Making Sense of Construction Improvement

By Stuart Green Copyright 2024
    366 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Making Sense of Construction Improvement provides a critical evaluation of the construction improvement debate from the end of the Second World War through to the modern era. The book offers unique insights into the way the UK construction sector is continuously shaped and re-shaped in accordance with changes in the prevailing political economy.


    This second edition brings the book up to date by including coverage of key trends from 2010–2023. The book has been substantially revised and reworked to include new material relating to the ‘age of austerity’ and the subsequent period of political uncertainty initiated by the Brexit referendum. Changes in the political economy are positioned alongside the rise of the sustainability agenda and the advent of ‘zero carbon’. Particular attention is paid to the ongoing skills crisis and the over-hyped advocacy of modern methods of construction (MMC) as the latest supposed panacea of industry improvement. Coverage includes the Farmer (2016) report Modernise or Die and the Construction Playbook (HM Government, 2020). However, perhaps the most important addition is a focus on the Grenfell Disaster (2017) and the subsequent revelations from the public enquiry. Further intermediate milestones include Building a Safer Future (Hackitt, 2018) and the Construction Sector Deal (HM Government, 2018). The emerging consensus points towards a systemic failure involving not only the construction sector but also the entire system of regulation and compliance. Tracing the failings back over time and scrutinising the role played by previous generations of policymakers, Stuart Green ultimately argues that Grenfell was a disaster entirely foretold.


    The insightful and critical analysis of the industry contained within these pages is essential and timely reading for anyone who wants to understand how the construction sector arrived at where it is today, and with that knowledge, give further thought to where it might go next.

    Preface to the First Edition

    Preface to the Second Edition

    1.      Construction in the age of the planned economy

    2.      The dawn of enterprise

    3.      Leanness and agility in construction

    4.      The improvement agenda takes shape

    5.      Rethinking construction

    6.      From business process re-engineering to partnering

    7.      Lean construction

    8.      From enterprise to social partnership

    9.      Dilemmas unresolved

    10.   The age of austerity

    11.   A prevailing sense of permacrisis

    12.   Unfulfilled dreams of technological optimism


    Stuart D. Green is Professor of Construction Management at the University of Reading and former Head of the School of the Built Environment. He has an extensive track record of policy engagement with the UK construction sector and writes from the conviction of personal experience. He is an accomplished researcher and continues to be actively involved in consultancy both in the UK and internationally.