Critical essay: sociotechnical construction

Guy H. Walker, Simona Foscarin-Kosmetatou, Simon Marr, Stephen Gillies, Paul Lindsay

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The Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme is the UK’s largest ever. The cultural value, funding model, risk profile, and fragility of the building exposes an uncomfortable truth. Construction business-as-usual has become an enterprise risk. Current levels of productivity, health, and wellbeing are not acceptable on a project of such high national importance. The Programme joins calls made in the Farmer Review, Project 13, the Construction Play Book , and now the Building Safety Bill for transformative change. It is in the unique position of being able to proactively drive this change. It is an exemplar project intended to deliver a learning legacy for the sector at large. It is also the first project to show an interest in a new approach called Sociotechnical Construction. The focus of this new approach is the joint optimization of socio/human and technical/organizational factors. The evidence points to these being instrumental in resolving the construction sector’s long-standing productivity and wellbeing paradox. This critical essay describes and defines Sociotechnical Construction, sets out the call to action, and presents the case for why it is needed now.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2024


  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Management Information Systems
  • human capital
  • teamworking
  • Sociotechnical construction
  • sectoral change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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