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Bakht, M N and El-Diraby, T E (2015) Synthesis of Decision-Making Research in Construction. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 141(09).

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: Decision making; Epistemology; Construction research; Policy making; Literature review; Organizational issues;
  • ISBN/ISSN: 0733-9364
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000984
  • Abstract:
    Decision making has always been a major topic of research in the field of construction engineering and management. Recent trends (such as the push for sustainability, the increased desire for public engagement, and the globalization in construction) have influenced the environment under which decision makers work. Consequently, the models of how decisions are formed and made should adapt to that change. This paper reviews the research literature in this regard to provide a perspective on the evolution of decision models and tools in the filed through analyzing a representative set of papers published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management (J. Constr. Eng. M.) over the last 50 years. Decision-making problems are studied in terms of three major components: decision makers, decision tools, and techniques for selecting the best alternative. Decision tools are analyzed in more detail in terms of epistemology of the work, the way decision parameters are modeled, the analysis approach they take, and the application tool they use. At the epistemological level, it was found that despite some new attempts to adopt constructivist views, positivism and phenomenology dominate the philosophical foundations of the work in the field. In terms of decision makers, a shift was detected from an assumption of individual decision makers to a hierarchical structure, and, more recently, to a network of decision makers. Decision criteria have evolved from focusing on the technical and objective to soft and subjective aspects of construction. A general migration from models with pure deterministic nature to (fundamentally) probabilistic models with stochastic approaches is detected. The complexity of engineering problems has resulted in a shift from judgmental to rational selection techniques. Interest in softer and subjective issues (such as sustainability) and the increasing number of (diversified) stakeholders have promoted the application of emergent-based selection methods, particularly in infrastructure projects. Trends of changes detected here are hypothesized to push for more focus on networkedness, managing the evolutionary (and possibly, chaotic) process, and harnessing collective intelligence of users to generate innovative solutions.