Work flow variation and labor productivity: Case study

Min Liu, Glenn Ballard, William Ibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Different types of flow variation and how they affect construction project performance have been studied by previous researchers. One aspect that has not been well researched is how work flow variation and labor productivity are related in construction practice. To study that issue, 134weeks of project production data were collected and analyzed to explore this relationship. Labor productivity was found to be positively correlated with Percent Plan Complete (PPC), a measure of work flow variation. The relationship between productivity and the ratio of total task completion to planned tasks, weekly workload, weekly work output, and weekly work hours was also studied, and no significant correlation was found. The results suggest that productivity is not improved by completing as many tasks as possible regardless of the plan, nor from increasing workload, work output, or the number of work hours expended. In contrast, productivity does improve when work flow is made more predictable. These findings can help project managers focus on actual drivers of productivity. It can also help consulting companies pinpoint responsibility for productivity losses in claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Construction management
  • Labor productivity
  • Last planner system
  • Work flow
  • Work flow variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • General Engineering
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Work flow variation and labor productivity: Case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this