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Assessing the true value of construction and the built environment to the economy

Special issue call for papers from Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

There has been a long-standing view that the construction industry as a whole is under-achieving. An efficient, cost-effective construction industry is desirable but the industry in the UK, as in many other countries, is seen as one of the least productive sectors in the economy.

A prerequisite for discussion and analysis of the sector’s value has to be the production of appropriate information to enable the development of models for the sector. The traditional perception of the contribution of the construction industry to the economy is based on the methodologies employed for the definition and measurement of construction activity according to international standards. However, perception of the sector’s performance is often quite negative and there has been a long-standing view that the construction industry as a whole is under-achieving with one of the lowest rates of productivity in the economy. There is considerable current debate, both in the UK and in many other counties, concerning the reasons for this relatively poor performance.  This view, though, can be questioned on several grounds.

National statistics organizations tasked with the publication of official statistics on the construction sector constantly reassess their methodology and the limitations of their data collection and must consider such questions as:

  • How valid and useful are the current definitions and measures?
  • What are the alternative approaches to the measurement of construction activity?
  • Are they fit for purpose for measuring the output of the construction industry (a key component in estimating the productivity of the industry)?
  • How should the industry’s efficiency and productivity be measured?
  • How comparable are construction statistics internationally?

The focus of this Special Issue will be in the context of:

  • The lack of data for a broad analysis of economic value.
  • The definition and measurement of construction activity: Towards a common international measure of the built environment. 
  • Problems of international comparisons.
  • A framework for analysis of the structure of the construction sector. 

Based on this focus, the following is an indicative (but non-exhaustive) list of anticipated themes on which papers are being invited:

  • Defining and analysing the composition of construction activity – (international) comparisons to find common trends.
  • Determination of the economic value of the built environment - analysis of the totality of activities involved in the production of the built environment.
  • What is construction productivity and how is knowledge on construction productivity created?
  • Defining built capital - the production of new buildings and other structures is measured by the amount of final spending on these items. It captures the value-added at all stages of production activity (not just the construction process). The value of the activity should not in principle vary with changes in the structure of the construction process – but does it in practice?
  • Built environment assets in the balance sheet of wealth.  Are National Wealth accounts rather than National Income accounts a better way of assessing the value of the built environment?
  • Valid methods of estimating the value of the building stock. National accounts measure the gross stock of buildings at actual or estimated current purchasers’ prices for new assets of the same type irrespective of age. The value of the building stock is measured in different ways in different countries. 
  • Urbanisation – accelerating global urbanisation presents both a need and an opportunity for the construction industry’s contribution to be better understood.

Submission guidelines

Author guidelines, including on formats and length limit, must be strictly followed and can be found on the journal web site at:
Submissions to must be through Scholar-One Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Key Deadlines

1 March 2018: Submission deadline
August 2018: Publication date

Contact Details:

Please get in touch with the editorial team if you have any questions.

Guest Editors

Les Ruddock, University of Salford
[email protected]
Stephen Gruneberg, University of Westminster
[email protected]
Steven Ruddock, London South Bank University   
[email protected]


Gemma Hemming   
[email protected]