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Construction of the Empire State Building: have we forgotten something?
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2015 (English)In: NFF Conference Proceedings, 2015Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

What’s past is prologue.  Or is it? 40% under budget and 25% faster than anticipated! The construction of the Empire State Building (ESB) was not only the fastest erection of a really tall building ever, but the construction company that took on the job allegedly began with nothing on hand as they had no equipment or supplies that would be adequate for the job. The project was also completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Instead of taking 18 months as initially anticipated, it only took 1 year and 45 days. With the iconic building completed, the construction costs totaled $24.7 million instead of the estimated $43 million. So, we ask how this was possible and is there something we could learn from this? Based on a review of existing literature describing the history of the ESB, we aim at outlining strategic, operational and contextual based explanations to what appears to be a great success from a project management perspective. In the paper we illustrate how, for example, inspiration from Henry Ford’s assembly line technique, the uniqueness of the logistics during the construction period, the economic decline of the Depression, and early ideas of concurrent engineering and fast-track construction, enabled the successful accomplishment. Utilization of private capital compared to public funds may also have been a factor. Our conclusion is that there are lessons to be learned in going back to basics. Nevertheless, somewhere along the line progress in management seems to have deviated from learning from history.  Consequently, the development of expectations of construction projects coming in late and over budget is traced through the metrics associated with major installations. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Empire State Building, Construction, Uber Projects, Continuous Flow
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-106705OAI: diva2:844110
The 23rd Nordic Academy of Management Conference, 12-14 August 2015, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Available from: 2015-08-03 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2015-12-02Bibliographically approved

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