Civil engineers as master builders and the professionalization of construction

Zhigang Shen, Wayne Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The introduction of new technology, depletion of natural resources, and aging infrastructure drive the need for innovation in project delivery systems within the architect, engineer, and contractor (AEC) community. Current practices of AEC industries will inevitably change as clients seek more innovative solutions and better services. How civil engineering's current practices and future vision fit into that evolving reality remains a question. In ASCE's Vision 2025, civil engineers will function as master builders, which raises several questions concerning what exactly it means to be a master builder in the context of current and future AEC practices and how an engineer serving as a master builder will affect other AEC practitioners. This paper discusses the master builder concept and its implications from the perspectives of (1) current AEC practices and business models, (2) bodies of knowledge, and (3) professionalization. The basic research approach includes a qualitative analysis of the AEC industry's current professional and business practices and bodies of knowledge. In particular, the analysis focuses on comparisons between construction managers and civil engineers. Theoretical analyses of both professions are also conducted using professionalization theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalLeadership and Management in Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • AEC
  • Body of knowledge
  • Business management
  • Business model
  • Construction management
  • Infrastructure
  • Master builders
  • Profession
  • Professional development
  • Professionalization
  • Project delivery
  • Vision 2025

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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