Koskela, Lauri, Sacks, R. and Rooke, John (2012) A brief history of the concept of waste in production. In: IGCL 20, 18th-20th July 2012, San Diego, California, USA.

Purpose: The concept of waste has been used in relation to production since the
beginning of the 20th century. As it is well-known, it is a foundational notion for the
Toyota Production System and its derivatives, like lean production. However, waste
is not a prevalent concept in the mainstream literature on economics, operations
management, construction management or management. The reasons for this
apparent aversion to the concept of waste are not well-understood. In view of this, we
present an overview on the historical development and diffusion of the concept of
waste. It is anticipated that such a long-term view would contribute to the current
discussion of the place of this concept in the theory and practice of production.
Method: The historical method is followed.
Findings: The history of the concept of waste can naturally be divided into a number
of periods: nascence up to the end of the 18th century, emergence of the classical
notion in the 19th century, flourishing during scientific management, decline starting
in the second quarter of the 20th century, and re-emergence in last quarter of that
century. From these, especially the emergence of the classical notion of waste as well
as its decline have been poorly understood. It is also an important insight that across
the different periods, waste has been understood in two dimensions: instrumentally
and intrinsically (morally).
Implications: Through an historical account, the relevance and texture of the concept
of waste can be better appreciated. The focus can be directed to critically assessing
the justification of the arguments that led to the decline of waste. All in all, the need
for the revival of waste as a basic concept in managerial discourse is illuminated


Download (82kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email