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Last edited 09 Sep 2016

Biomimicry

Biomimicry is the application of recognised biological concepts to fields outside the discipline of biological science.

By demonstrating one analogical application the prompt is provided to ‘find’ other biological concepts that could usefully be applied at some future point. The significance of the term biomimicry is that it is more than an analogy. Many of the biological concepts are firmly supported by analysis. As an example, studies of endangered species have produced a formula for the background level of extinction:

S = cA^z

Where:

  • S = number of species becoming extinct.
  • A = geographical area of dispersion of the species;
  • c = constant for specific taxonomic group;
  • z = relationship function for isolation specific area curve.

Examining the components of the formula it would appear that it could also be applied to the extinction of firms within the property and construction industry. At the present time no information is available regarding c or z but it may be possible to evaluate these, or by examination of past records to estimate approximate values for preliminary analysis.

The evaluation of the background level of extinction of construction and property firms will have a major impact on the quantification of insolvency risks associated with risk management techniques currently being developed within construction.

A further application from biomimicry comes from the biological mnemonic SLOSS, (Single Large Or Several Small). In biological terms this mnemonic is used in the examination of sustainable colonies of a particular threatened species. Is it better to have a number of isolated colonies of a threatened species or a much larger colony containing all the animals? A comparison could be drawn with the development of PFI and current initiatives of ‘bundling’ small projects into a larger project, or ‘unbundling’ them to create smaller projects, which companies other than the existing experienced PFI operators can compete for, thus increasing the competitive pool for future projects.

The most patent example of biomimicry is the use of Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ concept as an analogy for organisational survival.


The text in this article is based on ‘Business Management in Construction Enterprise’ by David Eaton and Roman Kotapski. The original manual was published in 2008. It was developed within the scope of the LdV program, project number: 2009-1-PL1-LEO05-05016 entitled “Common Learning Outcomes for European Managers in Construction”. It is reproduced here in a slightly modified form with the kind permission of the Chartered Institute of Building.

--CIOB

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