The construction industry with its approximately two million employees and almost 330,000 companies (BBSR 2019: 4) is one of the most important economic sectors in Germany. In addition, there are numerous industries depending directly or indirectly on the development of the construction industry in Germany.

Similar to other sectors of the economy, digital transformation is seen as a major challenge but also as an opportunity for the future development of the construction industry. However, the good economic situation in the construction industry, which has been going on for years, seems to have pushed back necessary adjustment steps towards digitalisation. The "Building Information Modeling" (BIM) system, which is already intensively used in many other countries and is often considered as the “Industry 4.0” of the construction industry, is still in its infancy in Germany.

The aim of the project was to examine the extent to which investments in information and communication technologies (ICT) have influenced business and production processes in the past and how these investments have contributed to productivity in the construction industry. In addition, the project identified factors that need to be taken into account by business and politics in order to leverage the full potential of digitalisation in the construction industry.

Contractor of the project was the ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH Mannheim.

In the course of the project, the contribution of digitalisation to productivity growth in the construction industry was determined on the basis of five steps:

  1. In a first step, the existing literature on the state of digitalisation in the construction industry was evaluated. Furthermore, first descriptive analyses of the degree of digitalisation in the construction industry was carried out.
  2. In a next step, a firm survey was conducted to obtain a comprehensive picture of the digitalisation activities in the construction industry. In addition to questions on digitalisation, the survey also included questions on complementary investments in employee training and organisational changes.
  3. The third work package dealt with the analysis of productivity trends in the construction industry based on EU KLEMS data. The development of labour productivity and total factor productivity (TFP) in the construction sector was compared to other sectors and countries.
  4. The contribution of ICT to productivity growth was measured in work package 4 using again the EU KLEMS database. 
  5. In a final step, the future potential of digitalisation for productivity gains in the construction industry were identified. In addition, recommendations for action were developed.

Selected Publications


Bertschek, Irene, Thomas Niebel and Jörg Ohnemus (2019), Zukunft Bau: Beitrag der Digitalisierung zur Produktivität in der Baubranche, Bundesinstituts für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) im Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung (BBR), BBSR-Online-Publikation 19/2019, Bonn. Download