Purpose – The Chinese civilization is an important part of the history of mankind. The purpose of this paper is to show that there are project management lessons to be learned from Chinese history, including that relating to the management of the building process in ancient China. Design/methodology/approach – Through a review of the literature, this paper discusses the key management and economic practices in the building process of ancient China and highlights these practices from an important document, the Yingzao Fashi or (“Treatise on Architectural Methods”), that was compared with the modern‐day project management framework. Findings – This paper explains the official systems instituted for public projects; the management of labour, design and planning of construction works; quantity surveying practices; the use, control and recycling of building materials; and inspection of building elements in ancient China. Practical implications – The study suggests that lessons in the principles of construction project management in ancient China bear many similarities with the nine areas of modern‐day project management body of knowledge relating to integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communications, risk, and procurement management. An area for future research would be to compare the Yingzao Fashi with modern‐day codes of practice for building works to determine which of its “ancient” provisions relating to quality management are still relevant today. Originality/value – It was found that much emphasis was placed by the ancient Chinese on the quality aspects of prominent building projects. This is one facet from which modern‐day project managers and clients can draw lessons.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 17, 2007
Keywords: Project management; Building services; China; History