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Analysing project-level planning efficiency and delivery time performance within the UK construction sector (Advert Reference: SF18/MCE/GLEDSON)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

In the construction sector an underperformance of on-site project delivery efforts, particularly regarding ‘productivity’ and ’predictability’ remains a principle concern. Any assessment of the success of construction projects involves post-delivery measurement against set time (along with cost and quality) targets, with any shortcomings in meeting these representing ‘degrees of failure’ for construction planning activities. Whilst the ’predictability’ of project- and construction- time performance is presently quantified and recorded annually via industry standard key performance indicators (KPI’s) with project-level data being aggregated and reported only at industry-level, insufficient attention is presently focused on exploring planning efficiency at individual ‘project-level’. However, it is exactly because the time performance enactment of individual ‘projects’, and their ‘project phases’, ‘work packages’, and ‘construction tasks’ remains unsatisfactory that predictability of time at an industry level continues to be identified and recorded as poor.

The main aim of this project is to therefore advance knowledge of construction planning efficiency via an analysis of project-level time performance across an aggregation of completed construction projects. In doing so, the following research questions can be addressed:

 How best can construction planning efficiency and delivery time performance be measured and analysed?
 How can such activity lead to improvements in construction time predictability and productivity?
 How does the planning efficiency and delivery time performance of projects that use traditional methods of construction planning, compare against projects planned that use more recent process innovations such as 4D BIM?
 How are organisations trialling, measuring the benefits, and capturing learning around such planning innovations?

A mixed-method study is expected whereby quantitative data allows for the measurement and analysis of planning- and delivery- efficiencies, reinforced by findings from adjacent additional qualitative efforts. This project aims to produce several refereed journal and conference paper publications.

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in an appropriate subject; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in Construction Project Management. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write and speak in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/MCE/GLEDSON) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


The principal supervisor has an established track record in Construction Project Management research, most recently focussing on the challenges of construction planning, innovation diffusion, failure, and process improvement within project-based organisations. Related relevant publications include:
Gledson, B., Williams, D. and Littlemore, M. (2018), “Construction planning efficiency and delivery time performance: analysing failure in task-level 'hit rates’”, in Gorse, C. and Nielson, C. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual ARCOM Conference, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, (Proceedings in press).
Gledson, B.J. and Greenwood, D. (2017) ‘The adoption of 4D BIM in the UK construction industry: An Innovation Diffusion approach’. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 24, (6), 950-967.
Gledson, B.J. and Phoenix, C. (2017) ‘Which company attributes affect SME likeliness to innovate?’ Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management, 17 (2), 224-243.
Gledson, B.J. and Dawson, S. (2017) ‘Use of Simulation Through BIM-Enabled Virtual Projects to Enhance Learning and Soft Employability Skills in Architectural Technology Education’ in Dastbaz, M (Ed) Building Information Modelling, Building Performance, Design and Smart Construction, 79-92, Springer International Publishing.
Gledson, B.J. and Greenwood, DJ. (2016) ‘Surveying the extent and use of 4D BIM in the UK’. The Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITcon), 21, 57-71.
Gledson, B.J. (2016). Hybrid project delivery processes observed in constructor BIM innovation adoption. Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management, 16 (2), 229-246.
Greenwood, DJ and Gledson, B.J. (2012) ‘The efficient scheduling of resources in Engineering Construction projects: reflections on a case study from Iran’. Construction Management and Economics, 30 (8) 687-695.

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