The origin of Facilities Management.

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Facilities Management (FM) has long suffered from an acute identity crisis (Tay & Ooi, 2001). The profession is considered by some individuals as having no strategic orientation encompassing middle aged men with no professional qualifications (Eltringham, 1999; Nourse, 1990).  It is believed to have taken until 1980 to gain a stronger presence within the construction industry, FM is still cited to be a relatively new developing discipline across the world (Atkin & Brooks, 2009; Barker, 2013; Ventovori, et al., 2007; Alexander, 2003).

The origin of FM is often speculated among academics, with Bröchner (2010) believing that the earliest account of the FM can be seen within the Roman times. Historian Frier revealed whilst studying preserved letters of Cicero that there is evidence to support the Roman link, as agents were used to manage the Roman Empire (1978, cited in Bröchner, 2010).   Jensen (2008) however argues that the claims do not directly relate to the constitution of modern corporate FM.

It is believed by some academics that FM’s closest link is to that of Fredrick Taylor’s Scientific Management in the 1900s, with the eras increased focus on office administration (Then & Akhlaghi, 1992; Duffy, 2000). Though Alexander (2003) considers the formation was popular during the 1980’s, a period that incorporated computers in the workplace. The recognition of global competition, increasing office space costs and persistent building defects is believed by Becker (1990, cited in, Jensen, 2008) to be evidence of the origin of the FM in the 1900s.

The British Institute of Facilities Management BIFM (2014) refer to the growth of FM whilst discussing the cost cutting initiative and the outsourcing of non-core activities that occurred during the 1970-80s.  It was later when professional organisations and associations became involved, leading to the profession expanding; with the first being the International Association for Facilities Management in the 1980s (Ventovori, et al., 2007).  Later in 1993, the British Institute of Facilities Managers was instituted. This formation was then followed by the introduction of specialised qualifications in FM (British Institute of Facilities Management, 2014).

Currently FM is recognised by further professional bodies, with each offering memberships and credentials (CIOB, 2014; RICS, 2014). Park (1998) ascertains that this level of recognition is one of the main influences to the profession being acknowledged with respect.

Whilst the origin of FM is disputed amongst academics, there are a number of professional bodies who accredit FM which has led to commonly cited definitions (Enoma, 2005; Chanter & Swallow, 2007).


Extract from Owen Black’s 2014 Dissertation ‘An investigation into Facilities Management: the profession’s contribution to the procurement of a new facility.’

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