General contractor's project of projects - a meta-project: understanding the new paradigm and its implications through the lens of entropy Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014, 2014 Taylor & Francis. Why do Koskela and others argue that the underlying theory of project management (PM) is obsolete? Project management works for the manufacturing industry, and for the construction industry at both the physical production level and the subcontractor level. Stakeholders, including the owner (along with due diligence, and O&M teams), architect (and the design team), general contractor (and its subcontractor team) create, transmit, process, manage and use information. The boundary between information (creation and transmission) and physical production is where PM controls and predicts cost and schedule and where quality controls fail to work as intended. This paper argues that subcontractors give project numbers for the physical part of the project, while general contractors' project numbers are actually a project of projects (those of the subcontractors). The general contractor manages a meta-project (term and definition, as related to building construction, coined by Fernandez-Solis). The meta-project paradigm has significant consequences and is the key to a novel understanding of the general contractor role. Lean construction's percent (or promise) plan complete (PPC) gages the reliability of promises made, is a useful and viable indicator of the quality of the schedule, and serves as a surrogate measure of project flow how smoothly or chaotically a project runs. The PPC is operationalized as an index that meta-project stakeholders can use to calibrate the reliability of work in progress and provide feedback on the predictability/variability of logistic plans. The methodology of this paper uses conceptual analysis, the metonymic mapping of key concepts from the thermodynamics domain to the construction domain and showcases the concepts through PPC case studies. Information entropy theories are discerned in the PPC reports. In conclusion, scientific information theories, principles and characteristics of flow, in contrast to managerial principles, provide a clearer background for visualizing a novel understanding of the state of the project flow at the meta-project level. It could be argued that this paper is about defining a reference discipline and construed as construction science viewed through the lens of entropy but this is not the focus of this paper but the topic of the next.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Fernandez-Solis, J. L., Rybkowski, Z. K., Xiao, C., Lu, X., & Chae, L. S.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Fernandez-Solis, Jose L||Rybkowski, Zofia K||Xiao, Chao||Lu, Xiaoshu||Chae, Lee Seok

publication date

  • May 2015