Site and Project Managers’ Activity on Construction Sites: Scheduling and Supervising a Dynamic Situation

By Justine Forrierre, Françoise Anceaux, Julien Cegarra, Francis Six

This paper aims to analyse the cognitive activity of an important actor of the construction sector: the project and site manager who is in charge of the planning, the management and the closing of the the construction sites. By referring to the design-execution process for the construction and the construction site, our aim is to increase the knowledge about the activity implemented by the project and site manager, particularly about its cognitive dimension connected to the design and to the execution of the construction site.
In this purpose, we first demonstrate that the construction site, during the phase of execution, can be considered as a complex and dynamic situation for the project and site manager, which must deal with internal dynamic, uncompleted problems, changing goals, feedback loops, time and organizational pressure.
Then, we consider the cognitive activity of the project and site manager during this phase as a supervisory activity. First, the construction site is a very open situation that can be influenced by many internal and external factors. Second, there?s often a distance between the construction site and the company that implies moves to the construction site if the project and site manager wants to see its evolution. Third, despite the slowness of the construction site, the project and site manager schedules its changes by frequent collects of information. Thus, the activity of the project and site manager is characterized by a changing field of supervisory and control and a various proximity of the control.
Besides, upstream this supervisory activity, the project and site manager has to design the construction site?s execution (scheduling the tasks and their order, allocating human and materials resources): we qualify this situation as a scheduling one. It can be described by seven cognitive dimensions: uncertainty, process steadiness, time pressure, cycle synchronicity, process continuity, complexity, multiple and contradictory objectives. The characterization of the project and site manager?s cognitive activity is also available during the execution of the construction site (the project and site manager adjusts his plans to the new design of the site and the unexpected events): there?s a situation of rescheduling.
The contributions of this article mainly concern theoretical aspects: by considering the construction site as a dynamical environment, we can apply the knowledge about this area to the site construction, to the activity of the project and site manager and to the collective aspect in the scheduling activity. It also contributes to the methodological and practical questioning (to use new methods in analysis of project and site manager activity, to design tools for the project and site mana?gers, to train the project and site managers).
* We suggest translating ?conducteur de travaux? by ?project and site manager?; thus, in France, the trade ?conducteur de travaux? includes both the duties practiced by the ?project manager? and the ?site manager? in UK.


  • dynamic situation
  • scheduling
  • supervising
  • construction site
  • project and site manager
Go to the article on