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G. Winch - Book Review

Professor Graham Winch's new book reviewed (24/04/04)

Book review by Dr D.J. Edwards, Loughborough University

Graham, M. Winch (2002), Managing Construction Projects, Blackwell Publishing, London. ISBN 0-632-05888-9. 458 Pages, Cost: £29.99 paperback.

The ubiquitous title of construction management adorns library bookcases around the world and one does begin to wonder whether another text on the subject is needed vis-à-vis updates to existing texts. As a hard-nosed ‘sceptical’ (and slightly prejudiced) reviewer, the decision to review this text was difficult, not least because of tight time and resource constraints. Nonetheless, every evening for the past four weeks have been spent reading chapter after chapter, whilst making notes as an aid memoir for this review and I am delighted to say that my time was very well spent.

A brief perusal of the contents page and preface reveals that the text is not just another prescriptive construction management text but rather a refreshing and unique study of information management and its impact upon international construction projects. The real strengths of this book are its honesty regards the construction project management process and its ability to draw upon the experiences of other industries in order to illustrate how ‘current practice’ could be improved demonstrably. The text includes both theories, pragmatic examples, anecdotes and case histories which reinforce the learning process and shed light on concepts that can be difficult to grasp. A number of clear graphics, illustrations and references have also been included throughout the text and add colour to the narrative. The book is well presented and written, logical  and succinct and is flexible enough to allow readers to either read from start to finish or liberally dip-in to chapters.   

The book consists of five key sections with 17 chapters dispersed amongst them; namely:

Section 1: Introduction
Ch.1: Management of construction projects
Ch. 2: The context of construction project management

Section 2: Defining the project mission
Ch. 3: Deciding what the client wants
Ch. 4: Managing stakeholders

Section 3: Mobilising the resource base
Ch. 5: Forming the project coalition
Ch.6: Motivating the project coalition
Ch 7: Managing the dynamics of the supply chain

Section 4: Riding the project life cycle
Ch 8: Minimising client surprise
Ch. 9: Defining problems and generating solutions
Ch. 10: Managing the budget
Ch. 11: Managing the programme
Ch. 12: Managing conformance
Ch 13: Managing uncertainty and risk on the project
Ch 14: Managing the project information flow

Section 5: Leading the project coalition
Ch. 15: Designing effective project organisations
Ch. 16: Infusing the project mission
Ch. 17: Conclusions: revaluing construction project management

The only minor negative comment is that for future editions, the texts theme i.e. ‘information processing’ should be made more explicit on the front cover in order to distinguish it from other more general textbooks within the subject domain.

This book deserves to be an established text for any construction or civil engineering under- and post graduate courses and practitioners will also find the text to be an invaluable resource. Managing Construction Projects is strongly recommended and members are encouraged, in the first instance, to purchase a sample copy for their library.