This industry paper is applied research with the purpose of answering whether Takahiro Fujimoto’s theory of capability-building competition in the automobile industry can be applied to the construction industry. This study begins with an empirical account of the work a series of project teams did to prefabricate and install exterior wall (X-wall) panels on six different buildings. The authors then explain relevant aspects of Fujimoto theory. Finally, the authors create a framework for evaluating the work in light of this theory and do so. The authors find that Fujimoto’s theory is relevant to construction. This paper is limited because the construction data set is relatively small and the evaluation of the competitiveness of routines and learning is based on the assessment of the first author, who initiated and directly managed the work on two projects and was engaged in its development on later projects. The paper is relevant for industry professionals because Lean management and process capability is required to make value flow to customers. Lean Construction theory can advance by understanding the elements of capability-building in the auto industry and how they can be applied to design and construction.
Theory, transformation, flexible manufacturing, evolutionary, emergence