Evidencing the Productive Value of the 4IR in the AEC Sector

Call for papers for: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

The changes brought about by the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolutions were arguably strongly associated with the productivity gains of that era.  It is therefore no surprise that recent reports are echoing similar future value gains across many industries as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) continues to unfold. In particular, that 70 per cent of businesses will have at least one form of AI capability by 2030 (McKinsey). The World Economic Forum is also predicting significant changes in future labour markets where job share between humans and automated processes will be equal. While PwC is predicting a $15.7trn global return on investments in 4IR by 2030. However, these predicted economic business gains are predisposed upon a coalescence of technological, process and information communication innovations. Yet despite this aforementioned presupposition, the prevailing discourse within academic literature remains largely silent on inherent value accrued from adopting technological disruption within contemporary project management in the delivery of change across the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO) in private, public and third sectors (Chan and Ejohwomu 2018). A total of 197 articles published between 1978 and 2018 were systematically examined by Chan and Ejohwomu (2018), which is inclusive of the digitisation era but not the mechanisation and electrification eras. Their review also emphasised the need to move beyond track-based conceptualisations and measurements of productivity, to consider productivity at a more systemic level. This is why we need to question where we measure productivity as much as we do for how and why. In addition, the true impact of technologies, such as AI and cloud computing and their impacts to managerial practices, are still not well understood. Consequently, there is clear need to acquire a deeper understanding of the true link between 4IR and productivity and provide qualitative and/or quantitative evidence to substantiate such.

4IR is arguably the leading area of investigation within the contemporary construction and civil engineering management discipline, given international governmental encouragement to adopt 4IR innovations as a means of encouraging industrial and economic reform and competitiveness. This Special Issue of Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management is at the cusp of change and at the vanguard of reporting key developments in the field. Moreover, the work will have practical impact – namely, to repurpose the use and expectations of productivity as a tool for generation of economic wealth will require compelling evidence to support such assertion. This Special Issue will provide that evidence.

The objectives of this Special Issue are to seek:

  1. Broader definitions and measures of productivity that takes into account systemic understanding of the value and outcomes for industry and commerce.
  2. How being productive in one area of production (or the value chain) can lead to becoming less productive elsewhere
  3. To examine the managerial implications for the fourth industrial revolution
  4. Pertinent and systematic case study research that demonstrate how particular practices over the whole project life cycle can impact upon productivity outcomes (positively or negatively) and moreover, provide guidance for readers on how they could optimise their business performance
  5. How project studies can add value to the management of intra- and inter-organisational change fourth industrial revolution
  6. A vignette of how non-project managers currently perceive the value of 4IR project management practices in order to the determine enablers and/or barriers to change management within the prevailing business culture.

Anticipated themes of papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Big data and the Construction industry
  • Construction and the digital divide
  • Construction industry development
  • Construction Education
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Digital and computing
  • Energy Efficient Building Components 
  • Human resources and industry 4.0
  • Indoor environmental quality and management
  • Industry 4.0 for Construction Companies
  • Maintenance of buildings and construction projects
  • Nanotechnology in the Construction industry
  • Skills development and transfer
  • Digital twins and human-cycle-physical system
  • Human-machine interaction
  • Robotics and automation
  • Computer vision in industrialisation 4.0

Submission Information

Submission Deadline: 31st July 2020
All papers must be submitted via the journal's ScholarOne page. Please read the author guidelines before submitting.
If you have any queries, please get in touch with the Guest Editors.

Guest Editors

Dr Obuks A Ejohwomu
University of Manchester, UK
[email protected][email protected]

Dr Paul W Chan
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
[email protected]

Dr Yujie Lu
Tongji University, China
[email protected]