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Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory in Construction Project Management(工程项目管理相关)

Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory in Construction Project

Management

1Xiang Pengcheng, 2Zou long *1, Faculty of Construction Management & Real Estate, Chongqing University, Chongqing,

China, 400045;Advanced Construction Management Research Center, Chongqing

University, Chongqing, China, 400045, pcxiang@http://www.wendangku.net/doc/f4b08f89f78a6529647d53cb.html 2, Faculty of Construction Management & Real Estate, Chongqing University, Chongqing,

China, 400045, zoulong0924@http://www.wendangku.net/doc/f4b08f89f78a6529647d53cb.html

Abstract

Dissipative structure theory is a science of studying evolution law of an open system away from equilibrium which can transfer automatically from disorder to order. Dissipative structure theory can solve the disorder of construction project management and the instability of project organization. The major objective is to create the theory of dissipative structure in construction project management. The research processes are: Discuss the systematic character of project and the feasibility of project forms dissipative structure. Create the theory of dissipative structure of construction project management and analyze the basic condition of forming dissipative structure of construction project management. Discuss the enlightenment of dissipative structure theory to construction project management in China. The contributions or anticipated results are: Enrich the theory of construction project management; A construction project can form dissipative structure and it is feasible to apply dissipative structure theory to construction project management; Dissipative structure of construction project management will be formed when the gross entropy of a construction project has less than 0.

Keywords : Dissipative Structure Theory; Construction Project Management; Project Entropy Flow;

Project Managerial Entropy

1. Introduction

Global economic growth and technology-progress, which brings with it great increase in the number, scale and complexity of construction projects. Meanwhile, the investors place more demands on the quality, time limit and value of money of construction projects. Effective construction project management has been the key to the successful project. David Cleland believed: Strategy management and construction project management will take crucial effect on coping with the market variation of globalization. All of these indicate that construction project management will be a new darling of knowledge economy era and information times. Construction project management has a long history, but modern construction project management which it has systemic theory and method only extends back for dozens of years. With the development of science & technology, construction project management is tending to involve more and more scientific theories, methods and tactics. Especially the application of scientific technology and knowledge such as information theory, control theory, system theory, behavior science, computer technology and operational research, which enrich the theory of construction project management and establish a foundation of the theory system of modern project management.

Dissipative structure theory was founded by Prigogine, Belgium physicist in 1970’s. Dissipative structure theory provides a new scientific philosophy to the natural and systemic methodology to the mankind, and it was respected as a great scientific achievement in 1970’s and forward theories in the 20th century, and it brought Prigogine with the Nobel Prize of Chemistry. Dissipative structure theory has contributed the development of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and also it has been widely applied in the fields of economy and society .The application of dissipative structure theory to management has acquired certainly achievement in the past years. Malaska and Kinunen (1986) probed into the model of management goal setting and its dissipative structure and put forward that the firm's own goal setting is shown to be the source of fluctuations. Liu (1996) attempted to apply dissipative structure theory in the management of information systems and discussed the relationship between dissipative Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory in Construction Project Management Xiang Pengcheng, Zou long

structure theory and traditional management theories. Jenner (1998) proposed `lean' organizations, which employs concepts from modern information theory, cybernetics, and the comparatively new field of self-organizing systems, which suggest that lean organizations are extremely flexible and highly adaptable to rapidly changing competitive conditions based on self-organizational processes. Managerial entropy flow and managerial dissipative structure, two concepts were put forward and built managerial dissipative structure theory based on science of complexity(Ren, 2001) .This research provides a new view for us research managerial theory. Ye et al.(2008) apply dissipative structures on the operation of the ecological risk management process, improve the ecological risk management level, further to achieve ecological restoration and protection of the western region in China to provide a new idea. Liu (2009) discusses the effect of the application of the dissipative structure theory, cooperate theory and chaos theory on Chinese enterprises management's reform. Guo et al.(2010) established a concept model of management entropy flow in the construction project organization, which illustrate the basic mechanism, process of management entropy flow in the construction project organization system, and created a intricately adaptive system of managerial dissipative structure in the construction project management, which analyze the influencing factor of management confusion, orderly management in the construction project organization from the angle of the systemic theory.

Dissipative structure theory is a science of studying evolution law of an open system away from equilibrium which can transfer automatically from disorder to order. Dissipative structure theory can solve the disorder of construction project management and the instability of project organization. Construction Project management as a offset of management belongs to the system of economy and society. Therefore, the application of dissipative structure theory to construction project management is not only feasible, but also it supplies important inspiration to project manager. The major objective of this paper is to introduce dissipative structure theory into the modern construction project management and create the theory of dissipative structure in construction project management. It will enrich the theory of construction project management and improve the level of construction project management in China.

2. The Basic Principle of Dissipative Structure Theory

An open system away from equilibrium can transfer automatically from order to disorder by exchanging substance and capacity with surroundings constantly. A new order structure will be come into being when the outer condition transforms continually, is named dissipative structure. Dissipative structure theory is a science of studying the quality, the formation, the stability and evolutionary law of dissipative structure.

Several conditions must be met if a system becomes a dissipative structure based on dissipative structure theory.

Firstly, the system must be an open system. An open system is not only the premise of forming dissipative structure, but also is the basis of the maintenance and existence of dissipative structure. An open system can only become from order to disorder when it exchanges substance and capacity with surroundings, which it absorbs negative entropy flows from environments to counteract positive entropy flows which the system produces by itself, and the gross entropy of the system will decrease gradually.

Secondly, the system must be system away from equilibrium. Prigogine said the imbalance is the source of order. Dissipative structure is difference from balancing structure. Dissipative structure is a dynamic order structure away from equilibrium, but balancing structure is a stationary and stable structure. So a system can become dissipative structure when only an open system crosses balancing zone to nonlinear zone away from equilibrium.

Thirdly, the system must be nonlinear Interaction. The interaction of system is divided into two types: linear and nonlinear. The result of linear interaction is only reiterative in the quantity, which can not give rise to transformation in the quality. The result of nonlinear interaction is that there are coordinate impact and coherent effect among elements, where the system will be become order from disorder.

Fourthly, the fluctuation leads to order. The fluctuation means the deviation from the mean of a variable and a behavior of a system. The fluctuation has dual nature. It takes passive effect which is a disturbance impact of destroying stability when it is balancing state. It takes positive effect which is a lever of becoming a new order stable state when it is far from equilibrium. So a random little

fluctuation can become a macroscopic great fluctuation by nonlinear interaction and concatenating effect when a unbalancing system satisfies the requirements which can become dissipative structure, which a system will be told on mutation and it become a new stable order structure.

3. Dissipative Structure Theory and Construction Project Management

3.1 The Systematic Character of Construction Project

A construction project is a complex system of economy and society which consists of tens of thousands of activities interactive activity in the time and the space. At the same time, it is restricted by some factors such as cost, time, resource, environment and so on. Generally a construction project covers the stages including planning, decision, design, construction and completion, which are interrelate and interdependence. Participants of a construction project include generally owner, design company, construction company and management company because of social great production and specialized division of labor. A construction project system is three-dimensional structure system, whose systematic character embodies project phase, project objective and project organization. The phase of project includes planning, decision, design, construction and so on. The objective of construction project consists of cost, time, resource and environment etc.. The organization of construction project includes owner design company, construction company and management company.

A construction project is a three-dimensional structure, to say the least. System structure of construction project as shown in Figure1.

Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory in Construction Project Management(工程项目管理相关)

3.2 Construction Project is a Dissipative Structure

(1)Construction Project is an Open System

A construction project is an open system in the social economy, which exists in the certain historical stage, time and space. It is a subsystem of social system in the course of its development, and it exchanges continually substance and capacity with surroundings. The gross entropy of the system will decrease gradually or keep invariable because the project system absorbs negative entropy flows from environments to counteract positive entropy flows which the system produces by itself when it exchanges substance and capacity with surroundings, and it becomes or maintains a order state relatively.

(2)Construction Project is a System away from Equilibrium

Seen from any angle, a construction project system keeps an unbalancing state. There is imbalance among construction project structure units, construction project participants and the functional departments of project brought the project from planning to delivery. A construction project system can only exchange continually substance and capacity with surroundings when it keeps unbalancing state,

and it keeps a immanent imbalance. At the same time, the imbalance supports exchanging course, and a new structure will be formed spontaneously.

(3)There is Nonlinear Interaction in the Interior of Construction Project

A construction project is a complex system of society and economy involving a mass of nonlinear internal relationships. During the execution process of the construction project, the construction project has the input of materials, information, energy, fund, labors and orders from the super-system, and produces the output of product, service, profit and information etc.. There is not linear between imports and exports. A construction project system can only become a new structure because of nonlinear interaction.

(4)There is Fluctuation Phenomenon in the Construction Project System

A construction project system will be transferred because it is affected by the factors from all of aspects in the course of its development. Such as inappropriate decision, variation in design, the change of political circumstances, inflation, the natural factor of an act of god and so on. The transformation from all of factors is little fluctuation which will be become great fluctuation by nonlinear coherent effect, thus to structure a new construction project system.

A construction project system is open system away from equilibrium. There are nonlinear interaction and fluctuation in the inner system. According to the dissipative structure theory, it is possible for a project to become a dissipative structure. So it is feasible for dissipative structure theory to apply to construction project management.

4. Creating the Theory of Dissipative Structure of Construction Project Management

4.1 Entropy Flow of Project

Entropy law which was created by Clausius describes the converted direction of system energy, that is the energy of a closed system can only convert disadversely toward decline. The concept of entropy is introduced into the field of systemic science and it is rebuilt on the category of systemic science. It will get managerial entropy when entropy is drawn into managerial science[17]. The factors which beget entropy in the construction project management are named entropy flow of construction project, which it is divided into positive entropy flow and negative entropy flow.

Positive entropy flows include: construction project organization is loose, the ability of decider is low, the management of construction company falls behind, manager is unfair, team work and personnel incentive is undeserved, project resources is insufficient, resource contention, unrealistic demands, the delay in payment, repeatedly change, no reasonable intervention, employment change, merger and acquisition, inflation, national policy change, natural calamity and so on. Negative entropy flows include materials, fund, culture, information, new technology and new process, method, machine, effective project management, effective communication, market innovation, morals, creativity, energy and labors etc..

Positive entropy flow is spontaneity and initiative. It is a certain effect for a construction project to produce positive entropy flow. But negative entropy flow is contrary. A construction project can only produce negative entropy to counteract positive entropy when it absorbs substance and capacity from surroundings constantly depending on compulsory action of artificial factors.

4.2 Dissipative Structure of Construction Project Management

An open system away from equilibrium is not abide by the second law of thermodynamic other than the theory of evolution based on dissipative structure theory. It will produce the phenomenon of self-organization and form a new stable structure on a certain condition by exchanging substance and capacity with surroundings. We may get the concept of managerial dissipative structure when dissipative structure theory is lead into managerial science. Managerial dissipative structure is managerial organization away from equilibrium, which can produce a new order structure by absorbing substance and capacity from surroundings constantly on condition that the increment of the order degree is more than disorder degree’s. A new order structure which is formed in the course of project management is named dissipative structure of project management.

The entropy flow of project may be expressed by formula (1) in an open construction project.

s d s d ds i e += (1)

ds —— the transformation of the gross entropy of construction project

s d e —— the increment of negative entropy of construction project

s d i —— the increment of positive entropy of construction project

We may know that a project can only form dissipative structure when 0

It is always 0>s d i toward an open construction project system. Construction project manager must choice appropriate negative flow to s d s d i e = if he wants to maintain the present situation of construction project management. It should be more negative entropy flows to s d s d i e -< if you want to make further improvement on construction project management.

A construction project will be away from balancing nonlinear zone and keeps dynamic equilibrium once forming dissipative structure of construction project management. A construction project will be a vigorous order structure when a random little fluctuation can become a macroscopic great fluctuation by interrelated interaction.

4.3 Construction Project Management Based on Dissipative Structure

Because of the complexity and nonlinear of Construction project management system, and the complexity of environment, the engineering project management process is full of uncertainty and chaos. In the different conditions, different disciplines play a leading role temporarily. When the managerial dissipative structure in the construction project management plays a leading role, the efficiency of project management increases, and rising prosperities, concededly, has been given to the construction project organization (As shown in AB section of figure 2). But, generally, as energy constant went on in its process, construction project managerial entropy increases gradually, meanwhile the efficiency of project management is degressive. At this time, construction project managerial entropy begins to play a leading role, and the construction project organization, for sure, is become more and more declining (As shown in BC section of figure 2). If the construction project continue to keep in a relatively closed state, no instantly culture, system, management, technology, human resource structure and market innovation, no necessary material, energy and information exchange with the environment, project implementation will be put to death at last. If the construction project could get plenty of material, energy and information from the environment, so that it carries on innovation in the corresponding system, management, technological and so on, to break the balance of the rigid internal state and make the construction project management efficiency increasing, in that way, the construction project organization will come back to life (As shown in CD section of figure 2), at this time, dissipative structure began to play a leading role.

Figure 2. Interaction Between Managerial Entropy and Managerial Dissipative Structure

Visibly, construction project managerial entropy, construction project managerial dissipative structure and construction project organization are closely related, there are nonlinearly reciprocal, interdependent, and interactional intricate relationship under the influence of the interaction in the environment, which form a complicated open huge system of construction project management (As shown in figure3).

Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory in Construction Project Management(工程项目管理相关)

This is essentially a conflicting, chaotic, coordinating, compromised, self-organizing, self-adapting, process which a complicated open huge system of construction project management emerges by the action of the inside and outside of the complexity, nonlinear system.

Marginal construction project managerial entropy value is the construction project managerial entropy changes caused by time to happen a tiny change. Marginal construction project managerial

T

O Management Efficiency

A B D

C

negentropy value is the construction project managerial entropy reverse changes caused by time to happen a tiny change. Because construction project managerial entropy and construction project managerial dissipative structure is interaction and function at the same time in the complicated internal project organization, Construction project managerial dissipative structure plays a leading role in the project organization and produces the largest negentropy value when the organizational system, policy, method forms at first, AS the influence of construction project managerial entropy gain strength, construction project internally systematic entropy increases, meanwhile the negentropy, produced by the dissipative structure, decreases, The construction project organization achieve its largest efficiency and begin to decay until the marginal construction project managerial entropy value is equivalent to the marginal construction project managerial negentropy value. It is the best time where bring in the lowest cost and the highest efficiency when taking part in decision-making in the critical point.

Therefore, in the process of contradictorily continually cyclical motion, they are dialectical unity with construction project organization in the course of interaction, construction project organizational structure move forward with the volatility of continuous regular pattern.

5. The Application of the Dissipative Structure Theory to Construction Project Management in China

It is very important for us to apply the dissipative structure theory to construction project management, which is beneficial to recognize the law of construction project management and improve construction project management.

(1)Construction Project Should be Become an Effective Open System

An effective open system is the premise of forming dissipative structure based on the dissipative structure theory. A construction project can only absorb negative entropy from surroundings constantly when it becomes an effective open system. Aiming to construct the project to be an effective open system, the following steps must be taken effectively. Firstly, we should amplify open awareness, create open circumstance, collect all kinds of information promptly, accurately and extensively, comprehend the newest policy and grasp market condition to make a sound decision. At the same time, we should impart all of project information to surroundings in time so that a project can absorb negative entropy flow from surroundings and develop towards more new order. Secondly, strengthening information management. All of project information should be opened by means of building information center and network of project. Purchase and biding should be done through the network to improve management capability and the transparency of project management. So the prime condition of reinforcing Chinese construction project management is building an open project system away from equilibrium which will become dissipative structure of project by absorbing substance and capacity with surroundings constantly.

(2)Construction Project Participants Must Improve Activity and Creativity

The formation of dissipative structure depends on a system absorbing negative entropy flows from surroundings constantly, such as the productive elements including talented people, investment, information, materials, energy and so on. The input of these negative entropy flows come true through working hard of all participants. So the talented people are the fountain of negative entropy flow. The basic way of increasing negative entropy amount is to improve the activity and creativity of project participants. Firstly, we should transform conception and improve awareness to all of construction project participants and encourage them to take part in modern construction project management actively. Secondly, improving the performance of project managers. The project managers must reinforce learning conscientiously, acquaint both domestic and international market continually, study and grasp new theories and methods of construction project management. Thirdly, to create a competitive environment for all of participants by establishing a fair competition system and encourage them to improve the abilities gradually. At the same time, we should offer some learning opportunity to construction project participants in order to improving the performance constantly.

(3)Innovation of Construction Project management

The dissipative structure theory presumes the world is complex and pluralist. It is impossible for a complex and realistic world to return to a kind of simple and constant managerial mode. Construction project management is not absolute and unchanged principals. So Project management must be

innovated and it should handle new thinking and viewpoint openly to satisfy the demand of modern construction project management. Firstly, the system of construction project management must be innovated. Responsible regime of project manager should be put into practice and it should definite the relationships of status, duty, power and benefit of project manager. The department of construction project manager should found integrated system of ensure quality, managerial regime and distributive system. Secondly, An advanced strategy of management must be applied, which includes fictitious management, cooperative competition, global strategy and trans-cultural competition etc.. Facing drastic competition of the market, construction project managers should manage more benefit bearing in mind the thinking of win-win strategy, and carry out the global strategy by drawing the merit of external culture while keeping the advantages of native culture thus to improve the international competition ability.

6. Conclusions

The dissipative structure theory which reveals some basic laws of the nature has been applied widely to the domains such as natural science, social science and economy. It is believed that the application of the dissipative structure theory will has certainly extensive prospect to managerial science. Construction project management is an offset of managerial, so the application of dissipative structure theory to construction project management provides a new basis of theory and new view for us to recognize the law of construction project management and pursue the practice of construction project management.

A construction project system is open system away from equilibrium. There are nonlinear interaction and fluctuation in the inner system. A construction project can form dissipative structure and it is feasible to apply dissipative structure theory to construction project management. Dissipative structure of construction project management will be formed when the gross entropy of a construction project has less than 0.The enlightenment of dissipative structure theory to construction project management in China is as follows: Firstly, we must be amplify open awareness, create open circumstance and absorb constantly substance, energy and information from surroundings in order to urge a construction project to form dissipative structure. Secondly, we must advance the activity and creativity of project participants, and innovate the system of construction project management in order to ensure forming dissipative structure of construction project management.

7. Acknowledgment

The work described in this paper was fully supported by a joint grant from Chongqing Social Science Foundation Project(2010QNZH26), Natural Science Foundation Project of CQ CSTC (CSTC, 2009BB9218) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (CDJSK100142). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors.

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