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Imperial College London, Room TBC.

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SW7 2AZ

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Swimming Across Lanes: Addressing Barriers to System-Level Innovation in the Construction Industry

Raymond E. Levitt, Ph.D., Kumagai Professor in Engineering, Emeritus, Director, Global Projects Center, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

Abstract:
Productivity increases since the 1950s in the US and other developed country construction industries have lagged far behind those in automobiles, aerospace, semiconductors biotechnology and other industries. At the same time, one can observe numerous innovations in both in the components (e.g., lights or windows) and work processes of this industry. How do we explain this apparent contradiction? This lecture will distinguish between two kinds of innovations: those that affect only a single component or module and its “swim lane” in the highly fragmented supply chain of the industry, versus those that cut across multiple components and multiple “swim lanes” of the supply chain, impacting both the designs of multiple components and their manufacturing and installation processes and sequences. The former can diffuse relatively easily through the industry, while the latter, more systemic innovations with the greatest potential for productivity enhancement are extremely difficult to diffuse in this and other mature industries. We discuss the many structural barriers facing both kinds of innovations in construction and other mature industries, and propose some governmental policies and corporate strategies that can help to overcome these barriers.

Speaker Biography:
Dr. Raymond Levitt is Kumagai Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Stanford University. He teaches classes and conducts research on organization, governance and entrepreneurship in construction in Stanford's Sustainable Design and Construction program. Dr. Levitt founded and directs Stanford’s Global Projects Center (GPC), which conducts research and executive education focused on the financing, governance and sustainability of global building and infrastructure projects. In 2017, he launched a new GPC initiative to explore and create disruptive business opportunities arising from the collection, integration and analysis of “big data” from multiple, public and private sources in emerging “Digital Cities.” Dr. Levitt was elected as a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a Member of the US National Academy of Construction. He served as Chair of Stanford’s Faculty Senate from 2012-13.

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Imperial College London, Room TBC.

London

SW7 2AZ

United Kingdom

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