American Society of Civil Engineers

Symbiotic Crew Relationships and Labor Flow

by H. Randolph Thomas, M.ASCE, (Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Pennsylvania Transp. Inst., Pennsylvania State Univ., 203 Transportation Research Bldg., University Park, PA 16802), Michael J. Horman, (Asst. Prof., Dept. of Arch. Engrg., 211 Engineering Unit A, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA 16802), and Ubiraci Espinelli Lemes de Souza, (Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 130, No. 6, November/December 2004, pp. 908-917, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This paper introduces a concept heretofore unrecognized in multiple crew relationships: symbiotic crew relationships. A symbiotic relationship occurs when the work pace of one crew depends on the pace of a preceding crew. Data from steel reinforcement activities from six commercial and residential projects in Brazil are used to demonstrate the negative effects of symbiotic relationships. The steel reinforcement on the case study projects was cut and bent on site. In this context, the pace of the installation crew’s work (and hence performance) was dictated by the pace of the cutting and bending crew. The performance of crews with symbiotic relationships is shown to be consistently worse than when symbiotic relationships are not present. Symbiotic relationships are also tied to time buffers. There is better performance as the time buffer between crews approaches 5 days.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Personnel management
Construction management