Defining Lean Construction Capability From an Ambidextrous Perspective

Yanqing Fang1 & Emmanuel Itodo Daniel2

1PhD Graduate, School of Management Science and Engineering, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, China. [email protected],
2 Sr. Lecturer in Constr. Mgmt., School of Arch. and Built Envir., Faculty of Sci. and Engrg., Univ. of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom WV1 ILY, [email protected],


Lean construction (LC) is widely used to eliminate waste in the construction industry. However, research on LC capability is lagging relative to other works in the LC field. By exploring relevant literature on the rigid and flexible characteristics of LC, this study proposes for the first time that LC capability is an ambidextrous capability from a paradoxical lens. The investigation reveals that the concept of LC capability has no clear definition and puts forward the view that LC capability is an ambidextrous capability. The study established that LC ambidextrous capability is a paradox which consist of two dimensions—namely LC exploitative capability and LC exploratory capability. LC ambidextrous capability emphasizes striving for a balance between the two capabilities. This study contributes to current knowledge and future application of organizational ambidexterity theory to LC capability development. Regarding contribution to practice, this research would enable LC project practitioners to understand the paradoxical tensions in LC projects, and to how to deal with them. Additionally, this study brings new insight and opens a new debate on how LC ambidextrous capability could develop in the construction field.


Lean construction, ambidextrous capability, paradox, exploitation, exploration



Fang, Y. & Daniel, E. I. 2021, 'Defining Lean Construction Capability From an Ambidextrous Perspective' In:, Proc. 29th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Lima, Peru, 14-16 Jul 2021. pp 147-156

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