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Mari M., Poggesi S. (2014), “Facility Management: Current Trends and Future
Perspectives”, International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, Vol. 6,
Nos. ¾, pp. 177-199.
Abstract: This paper aims at systematising academic studies on facility management that have been
published since 2006 in order to understand whether facility management, as a scientific discipline, has
arrived at its mature stage; whether the strategic shift that is occurring in facility management practice has
been grasped by academia to date; and what are the most challenging areas for future research. By reviewing
79 papers in depth, our results show that research in this area is still in its infancy, allowing scholars the
possibility of really contributing to the advancement of the field.
Keywords: facility management; facilities management; review.
This paper discusses the state of the art of academic literature on facility management (hereafter FM).
The interest in FM is related to a number of factors influencing one another. First and generally, the
broader field of application for FM, i.e., the real estate industry, despite the enormous difficulties
encountered over the last years, still plays a relevant role for the economy at the international level [see,
for example, the recent trends highlighted for Europe by PWC and ULI (2013)]. Second, the real estate
value chain has evolved over the years and today it encompasses several players that act strategically for
real estate value creation (Roulac, 1999; Barrett, 2000; Mari, 2011). These players are ascribable to three
main areas of activity, asset, property and FM, and among them, FM still represents one of the least
investigated areas from an academic perspective, thus deserving greater attention.
Over the years, several definitions for FM have been proposed at an international level. According
to the International Facility Management Association (International Facility Management Association,
2012), for example, FM is “the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and
work of an organisation; (it) integrates the principles of business administration, architecture, and the
behavioural and engineering sciences”. More recently, the British Institute of Facilities Management
(BIFM, 2010) defines FM as “the integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and
develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities”.
Despite the continuing debate about the FM definition in which academia plays a pivotal role, what is
interesting to point out is the approach that is used for understanding this topic.
In academia, as Price and Akhlaghi (1999) underline, FM has been frequently considered a discipline
primarily focused on maintenance services for organisations’ buildings and other physical resources that
are generally provided from a cost-cutting perspective. Nowadays, both academics and practitioners
seem to converge on the fact that the contribution of FM to the organisation is, instead, wider (e.g., Heng
et al., 2005; Alexander and Price, 2012). It is true that FM indeed aims to minimise running costs and
maximise usable space, but it is also true that it has to support and enhance both the core and non-core
activities in an organisation and therefore, it needs to be recognised at boardroom level (Tranfield and
Akhlaghi, 1995; Noor and Pitt, 2009; Barrett and Finch, 2014). According to Noor and Pitt (2009,
pp.214–215), for example, FM “shapes the business, not just supports the business”. Thus, a strategic
approach to FM should be introduced (Tucker and Pitt, 2009).
Stemming from these considerations, this paper aims at reviewing the most current publications on
the topic in order to analyse whether academia has actually grasped this relatively new awareness.
Over the years, a number of authors have theoretically reviewed the general topic of real estate
(Abatecola et al., 2013a) or focused on FM (Ventovuori et al., 2007; Drion et al., 2012; Jensen et al.,
2012). Given the goal of this paper, the most relevant study on FM is the one published in 2007 by
Ventovuori et al. that considers, by means of a systematic literature review, those papers on FM
published in the period 1996–2005. Results from this research show that in the studies on the topic the
hypothesis testing and more valid data analysis techniques are generally missing. These characteristics
– that are typical of an emerging area of research – are in part the reasons why FM apparently still
remains misunderstood, particularly in the general business sector (McLennan, 2004).
Thus, by considering:
a the growing importance of FM worldwide
b the eight-years’ lack of systematisation of results –
This paper aims at systematising papers on FM that have been published since 2006 in order to
1 Whether FM, as a scientific discipline, has arrived at its maturestage1. In other words, whether the
indispensable rigour, to guarantee a better understanding of FM and its recognition as a specific research
area, has been achieved.
2 Whether the strategic shift that is occurring in FM practice has been grasped by academia to date.
3 The most challenging areas for future research.
Our findings show that the research on the topic is still in its infancy. Although the strategic role of the FM
in the firm is recognised by several scholars, both the theoretical and empirical analyses appear to be unable
to really grasp this aspect yet. Moreover, as most of the papers in this area are focused on very specific
issues, management scholars may have difficulty in appreciating the added value of the topic.
We have conceived this article as follows. First, we describe the research methods. Second, we briefly
describe the nature of the dataset. Third, we analyse the content of the selected papers by grouping the
articles into different clusters according to their main explored arguments. Finally, we draw on the main
conclusions from this work for proposing potential avenues for the future research agenda.
2 Methods and first evidences
The ‘systematic literature review’ method has been adopted as the research design most suited to the aims
of this paper. In particular, following its traditional process (e.g., Cafferata et al., 2009; Abatecola et
al., 2013a, 2013b; Mari and Poggesi, 2013):
1 We chose the Business Source Premier (EBSCO), Scopus and Web of Science (WOS) as the research
2 We established three restriction criteria:
a only published peer-reviewed journal articles were considered in order to promote quality control; thus,
books, chapters in books, reports, conference proceedings, working papers and other unpublished works
b articles had to be written in English
c they had to be published in the period January 2006–January 2014.
3 We then selected articles that contain ‘facilit* management’ as keywords in the abstract. We further
selected the articles by reading all their abstracts to ensure their substantive context. In particular, we
set up the following two exclusion criteria:
a we did not consider those abstract that accidently investigate the FM (i.e., those papers where FM was
not the core topic)
b we did not consider those abstracts that do not analyse the topic from a managerial perspective, thus we
excluded a large amount of works dealing with this topic from a more technical perspective (i.e.,
engineering or architectural).
4 We ensured the articles’ substantive relevance by reading the text of all the articles selected through the
previous screening of abstracts.
Applying the analysis steps just described, our research final sample was composed of 79 papers (see
Summary of the results
All those articles containing the selected keywords in the abstract
All those articles whose abstracts were substantively relevant
All those articles whose text was effectively relevant
Source: Elaboration on the dataset
A number of evidences are noteworthy.
First, Table 2 reports the reviewed papers according to the journal in which they appear; selection has
been made considering those journals having published more than two articles.
Table 2 Distribution of articles by journals
No. of papers
Journal of Facilities Management
Journal of Corporate Real Estate
International Journal of Strategic Property Management
Journal of Retail and Leisure Property
International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management
Production Planning & Control
Source: Elaboration on the dataset
Although the papers are distributed among a consistent number of journals (18), it has to be noticed that
63% of the selected articles are concentrated in only two journals, i.e., Facilities (with 37 papers, 47% of
the dataset) and Journal of Facilities Management (with 13 papers, 16% of the dataset), both of them strictly
focused on the analysis of FM issues. The scant interest towards FM by other journals (above all other
management and top ranked journals) seems a sign of the fact that this discipline has not arrived at its
mature stage and is still relegated to a restricted audience, mainly constituted of practitioners. However
some exceptions exist (e.g., Price, 2007; Ishizaka and Blakiston, 2012) that underline that if the research is
rigorous good publication opportunities exist also in this field.
Second, by analysing the sample used in the selected papers (only 24 papers are theoretical) it is
interesting to point out the variety of countries analysed (Table 3).
Two aspects deserve further comment. First, 20 different countries are analysed in our dataset; this data
points out how widespread the topic is worldwide. Second, only two papers develop an FM comparison
between (or among) different countries. The idea to compare different experiences and to internationally
identify the best practices could be really useful both for theory, stimulating the development of the
conversation on the topic and for practice, stimulating the improvement FM real estate services.
Table 3 Investigated countries
No. of papers
Europe (Nordic Countries)
USA and Finland
Source: Elaboration on the dataset
Finally, in order to manage the 79 selected
publications, each of them has been
categorised according to its specific purpose. In so doing, four clusters emerge, whose
specific consistency is shown in Table 42.
Table 4 Distribution of articles by topics
No. of papers
Source: Elaboration on the dataset
The main findings of each of the previously identified clusters are hereafter discussed.
The strategic contribution of FM to the overall organisation of the firm seems to have been underestimated
(and also under-investigated) over the years, with both scholars and practitioners devoting attention more
to the “reduction-costs perspective” of the FM than to its potential contribution in terms of added value
through innovation of services and processes (Lehtonen and Salonen, 2006; Coenen et al., 2013).
Traditionally, FM strategies indeed are in general merely subordinated to the main strategies of the
organisation (Chotipanich and Lertariyanun, 2011). However, recently, firms are trying to take a step
forward, making efforts to adopt a strategic approach strictly oriented to the management of their facilities;
and this particular perspective can be still considered at an infancy stage (Pitt et al., 2011a).
Consistent with the traditional approach towards FM, the contracting-out of non-core activities (i.e.,
outsourcing), is the strategy most investigated in our dataset. Results show that over the last decade the
tendency for firms to outsource their buildings’ support services, in order to better focus on their core
business, has increased. In the analysed papers, the choice of contracting-out – to one or more external
providers – FM services is related to a number of different goals that the firm may have such as, for example:
costs reduction, organisational efficiency or added value creation (e.g., Jensen, 2010; Cigolini et al., 2011;
Ishizaka and Blakiston, 2012; Coenen et al., 2013).
The likelihood that the firm reaches these goals is investigated, also considering the main risks
associated with the outsourcing of FM services. In particular, the goal of cutting costs by means of an
outsourcing strategy may be risky for the firm because:
a it may lead the firm to improperly manage the relationship with its service provider(s)
b the outsourcing practice may not fit perfectly with the overall strategy of the firm
c the firm may scarcely take into account both the quality of services provided and the relationship
with its customers (Kadefors, 2008; Ikediashi et al., 2012; Ishizaka and Blakiston, 2012; Natukunda
et al., 2013).
Both a and b may cause the failure of the outsourcing strategy and thus, consequently, negatively affect the
performance of the firm.
Interestingly, a number of studies analyse the outsourcing strategy not only in terms of cost reduction,
but also in terms of innovation and quality improvement (Chotipanich and Lertariyanun, 2011; Coenen et
al., 2013). In particular, Coenen et al. (2013) argue that high levels of innovation and quality depend on the
existence of a structured co-creation process with customers. This co-creation process is really effective
only when adequately planned coherently with the specific strategic intents and objectives of the firm (e.g.,
Chotipanich and Lertariyanun, 2011).
Moreover, authors such as Lehtonen and Salonen (2006), Giachetti (2012), and Povey and Peach (2013)
underline the role that alliances and affiliations (e.g., to a consortium) may have in being an effective way
for managing facilities and positively impacting on firms’ performance. This is also hypothesised by articles
by Pitt et al. (2011a, 2011b): the authors focus their analysis in particular on the case of airport management.
They point out that an effective management of the facilities, aimed at successfully satisfying both the
airport ownership and the customers, should be based on agreements, networks and strategic alliances with
FM functions from other airports or with external FM companies.
This outsourcing of the FM function, as stated by the authors, results in having a crucial influence on the
airport income, on the customers’ satisfaction and is also able to positively influence innovation
Further, the strategy of outsourcing is also analysed by deepening the characteristics of specific activity
sectors, i.e., construction and healthcare industries. Bröchner’s (2008) analysis, for example, is focused on
the construction industry in Sweden. The author compares the choice of outsourcing with that of vertical
integration for Swedish construction firms. Interestingly, the author analyses the relationship between
outsourcing, vertical integration and innovation, discovering that those firms who strategically decide to
vertically integrate into the FM are also those firms more opened up to innovation, with employees having
higher levels of education, and more likely to have loyal customers.
Ciarapica et al. (2008) deepen the case of the Italian healthcare sector, a context in which the adoption
of FM strategies is a very recent practice, thus still not yet widespread. What emerges is that the Italian
healthcare system is still anchored in a traditional approach to the management of facilities. Data from Italy
show that, despite Italy’s bigger hospitals having decided, over recent years, to adopt the outsourcing
strategy, results in terms of service quality levels do not seem satisfactory, probably due to reasons such
as Italian bureaucracy and lack of big FM providers at the national level. In a certain way, in line with the
Italian case is that of Finland, where Ventovuori (2007) underline the importance, for the providers of FM
services, to have high technical competences and be able to respond to various client needs with ad hoc
bundles of service solutions.
In the FM literature, the performance measurement models appear to be a relatively new topic of
investigation. However, in recent years the interest towards this issue has increased remarkably and today
scholars are stressing how important performance measurement of FM activities is for the business success.
In this vein, data show that after salary and wages, expenditures for facility and real estate represent, to
date, the largest part of the operating expenses for a company; thus, any improvement in FM effectiveness
should lead to a significant cost saving for the organisation.
In line with this, several ways and instruments to measure FM performance have been developed over
the years and, among them, the most investigated in our dataset are: benchmarking (Pitt and Tucker, 2008;
Lai and Yik, 2011; Wong et al., 2013), the balanced scorecard (De Toni et al., 2007) and key performance
indicators (KPIs) (Enoma and Allen, 2007; Lavy et al., 2010; Meng and Minogue, 2011).
KPIs – general indicators of performance that focus on critical aspects of outputs or outcomes – seem
to be the most popular indicators among FM practitioners and organisations, and are judged to be the most
effective for four main reasons [Meng and Minogue, (2011), p.480]:
a they cover multiple perspectives b they are relatively easy to use
b they link performance with firm’s objectives and processes
c they drive performance improvement and increase client satisfaction.
Lavy et al. (2010, p.447), in their theoretical paper, propose a list of 35 KPIs that holistically represent
performance measurement and exhibit their applicability to different types of buildings and facilities. These
KPIs are basically grouped into four categories:
1 financial indicators, which refer to costs and expenditures associated with operation and
maintenance, energy, building functions, real estate, plant, etc.
2 physical indicators, which are associated with the physical shape and conditions of the
buildings, systems, and components
3 functional indicators, which are related to the way the facility and the buildings operate and
which express building appropriateness through space adequacy, parking, etc.
4 survey-based indicators, which are based solely on respondents’ answers to survey.
The high number of KPIs and the difficulty in reducing them can be considered a limit of the research
within this domain and shows how difficult it could be to deal with this topic.
Other tools are identified in our dataset: Brackertz (2006) applies a holistic model to provide an
appropriate measure of facility performance that includes financial and non-financial indicators. Diez and
Lennerts (2009) use the activity-based cost model to estimate the FM costs and services in relation to the
capacity and utilisation of the operation unit in a German hospital. That being stated, a transition from
performance measurement to performance management has been recently advocated because, as
Amaratunga and Baldry (2002) suggest, “measurement is not an end to itself, but a tool for more effective
management”. In this vein, a conceptual model, a customer performance measurement system (CPMS), has
been presented in order to acknowledge and test the importance of applying customer performance
measurement and hence enhancing the sophistication of strategic processes within FM (Tucker and Pitt,
2009). Such an effort is also made by Moss et al. (2007); in their paper the authors present a new
performance management system that aims to ensure that the service providers’ performance is aligned
with the critical success factors of the client organisation and provides the mechanism by which
improvements can take place.
Still in its infancy is the interest in how facilities services can influence the overall organisation
outcomes. What is also happening in FM research area is the growing awareness that the added value is not
just related to the good/service itself, but also to the value of the buyer-seller relationship. Thus, several
papers in this cluster investigate the FM contribution to the organisational outcome, particularly educational
achievement and the health outcome.
With regard to the educational sector, the paper by Leung et al. (2006) analyses the FM impact on the
working behaviour of teachers. By comparing two situations (old school buildings and new millennium
school buildings), teachers’ working behaviour in the new buildings showed no significant changes,
although abetter performance of FM. These results can be explained by considering the low understanding
of end-users’ expectations. Kok et al. (2011) point out that facility services, for example heating, ventilating
and air conditioning systems, acoustic systems and cleaning, directly affect the education process;
however, despite these conclusions, no possible solution able to organise those services in order to increase
their contribution to the education process has been drawn. Concerning the health outcomes, May and
Pinder (2008), interviewing National Health System facilities managers, analyse their thoughts on their
contribution to health outcomes but, as they assert: “data does not show any conclusive evidence of a
correlation between FM and health outcomes”. Despite the still existing drawbacks, recent research on the
topic confirms that workplace design and management do impact on organisational performance (Price,
2007; Morgan and Antony, 2008).
According to Taillandier et al. (2011), two main approaches for elaborating maintenance plans are
developed in the literature (see also Khazraei and Deuse, 2011): an ‘automated computer aided approach’
and an ‘operational approach’. Both have some benefits but also some drawbacks. Regarding the first
approach, it guarantees maintenance plans for specific elements of the building – façade (Mendes Silva
and Falorca, 2009), air-conditioning (Kwak et al., 2004), etc. – according to a single criterion (often an
economic one). However, the complexity of the automated computer aided approach frequently makes it
difficult to be understandable by non-experts (and decision-makers rarely are experts). Moreover, the use
of highly automated methods can be very expensive in terms of time and resources as they concern
generally one building component at a time.
The operational approach is based on operational methods that rely on the technical modelling of
buildings. They propose a diagnostic process to assess the current technical state of buildings where experts
assess quantitatively or qualitatively technical criteria. Then, for each element with a low score, the methods
suggest actions for improvement. Some methods even propose a hierarchy of actions based on the technical
scores. Although these methods allow a quick analysis of the buildings, they fail to address the complexity
of the situation as a whole.
Stemming from these considerations, what emerges in Von Felten et al.’s (2009) analysis is the need
for more FM integration in the construction phase of the project (e.g., Das et al., 2010), as almost 20% of
annual operating costs may be saved when FM is introduced at an early stage. Thus, the question is “Why
is FM planning not integrated more consistently into the construction process?” The reasons are identified
by scholars as follows:
1 existing planning and construction processes
2 higher initial costs and time investment for the inclusion of FM planners
3 difficulty of demonstrating to owners the potential in terms of savings, which will be realised
only in the operation phase.
For this reasons, the scholars propose the FM dashboard approach which considers a structured list of
questions that enable the user to consider and evaluate all FM relevant topics at each project phase. Thus,
also in this cluster, a change is advocated and it is well expressed by Pitt et al. (2006, p.164): “The focus of
the maintenance operation becomes the added value for the business and no longer the mere efficiency of
the maintenance operation itself”.
A new interest is emerging in the FM needs of warehouses and shopping centres. As far as warehouses
are concerned, Ling et al. (2008) explore the tenants’ requirements which should be incorporated into the
design of warehouses. By empirically investigating a sample of tenants, user friendly designs, an air-
conditioned office within the warehouse, air wells along the loading/unloading bays, and backup power
supply, all emerge as the tangible facilities that lead to higher customer satisfaction. A better service
quality, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction seems to be related, in the case of shopping centres,
to the existence of long-term or strategic relationships with FM service (Musa and Pitt, 2009).
In this cluster are included papers dealing with sustainability and innovation. As far as sustainability is
concerned, traditionally sustainability covers three pillars: environmental, social and economic
development. By translating this concept to FM, according to IFMA, sustainable facilities management
allows an organisation to build and operate facilities that meet organisational goals, enable the
productiveness of workers within the office and allow working in harmony with the environment.
In our dataset, the attention is mainly focused on the environmental sustainability, leading to the concept
of environmental management (Cooper, 1998). Environmental management is defined as “the processes
and practices introduced by an organisation for reducing, eliminating and ideally preventing negative
environmental impacts arising from its undertaking” [Cooper, (1998), p.112]. The interest in this topic is
increasing and it is highly related to the fact that buildings (both residential and commercial) have
worldwide, to date, a significant role in the total energy consumption and atmosphere’s pollution. Further,
Aaltonen et al. (2013) also state that “an estimated 80–90% of climate change impacts caused by
commercial buildings are created during the operational phase of existing buildings”. Thus, ‘green
buildings’ (structures that have less impact on the environment than conventional buildings) today represent
an important area of research, although this is still at the infancy stage. Simultaneously, the attention paid
to the role of FM and facility services in the field of green buildings nowadays is at a very early stage of
research. The few studies selected here suggest that FM services have to support user organisations in their
effort to become more environmental-oriented (Hodges, 2005; Roper and Beard, 2006; Wood, 2006;
Junnila, 2007). In fact, end-user companies already expect facility managers to be able to provide
environment- and energy-related services (Nousiainen and Junnila, 2008) as they are the only ones to have
the knowledge about the entire lifecycle of a building, and thus able to effectively operate (Hodges, 2005).
However, most papers in our dataset point out the difficulty of applying sustainability approach in the
organisation. Elmualim et al. (2010) test that facility managers in many organisations do not perceive
sustainability as a high priority: time constraints, lack of knowledge and lack of senior management
commitment seem to be the main barriers to practicing sustainable FM. That seems to be the case
particularly with FM practices in less developed countries; for example, Penny (2007) points out that in
his dataset (hotels in Macao, China) environmental strategies are mainly associated with cost savings or
regulatory compliance. Similarly, results from Nigeria (Adewunmi et al., 2012) show that FM minimally
addresses sustainability. What clearly emerges is that environmental management is not valued as an
important FM tool in enhancing firms’ productivity and competitiveness. Training and research are
solutions identified by scholars to promote sustainable practices. Moreover, Lewis et al. (2011), by
analysing three different case studies, investigate energy and maintenance management practices, pointing
out that the strong link that exists between the two is not widely embraced in practice. Nousiainen and
Junnila (2008), by analysing American and European firms, stress that large international end-user
companies appear to have new kinds of expectations towards FM companies; they are expected to provide
services supporting the environmental management of their customers. The most popular environmental
objectives are energy efficiency, waste management and climate change, and active reporting and
supporting services for environmental management are required. Finally, Price et al. (2011) point out the
importance of size and how different it is to be a small company when compared to medium-sized/large
organisations in pursuing environmental strategies.
Regarding innovation in the FM sector, it is interesting to stress that, to date, only a few scholars have
investigated the topic (Cardellino and Finch, 2006; Goyal and Pitt, 2007; Pitt et al., 2006; Noor and Pitt,
2009; Scupola, 2012). Cardellino and Finch (2006) do not focus on innovation itself, but on the way in
which the innovation emerges and the way in which it spreads throughout the organisation. In particular,
scholars find that FM organisations in the UK are highly active with service innovations, but that the process
of innovation rarely follows a formalised path. Generally, the innovations are “one-shot commitments at
the early stage” (Cardellino and Finch, 2006). Differently, Scupola (2012) finds that Danish FM
organisations, especially the big FM providers, perceive themselves as being innovative: they have
innovation on their strategic agenda, they develop innovation strategies, and they set up development
departments and innovation laboratories. On the other hand, FM service customers with their own FM
department present mixed results. Some perceive innovation as a strategic priority and have clear
innovation strategies. Others perceive themselves as not being innovative, even though they might be.
Important innovations found in this study are business model innovations that mainly take the form of
customer-supplier partnerships; indeed, a current trend seems to be that of establishing partnerships
between FM providers and customers in order to foster innovation and decrease costs. This is also
recommended by Noor and Pitt (2009), Goyal and Pitt (2007) and Lindkvist and Elmualim (2010). In
particular, Lindkvist and Elmualim (2010) stress that innovation in FM does not happen in isolation to the
organisation; Goyal and Pitt (2007) state that innovation achieved by means of a partnership between
organisations maximises the opportunity to think and act beyond the organisations’ boundaries, bringing
together aspirations, skills and knowledge of all the stakeholders who work to gain profits and competitive
advantage. They further suggest innovation to be a real and shared mindset for the business organisation at
every level, and that it is not simply a sporadic event.
This work systematises papers on FM that have been published since 2006 in order to understand how
mature the research on the topic is; also to see if scholars are today completely aware of the contribution
that a strategic approach towards FM could give to the overall success of an organisation and, if so, how
they eventually suggest implementing this approach within the management of the firm.
The systematisation of the last eight years’ academic studies on FM shows that this stream of research
is still in its infancy stage and that, even if a gradual shift towards a more strategic perspective of analysis
is partly occurring, its increase is strongly advocated. That being stated, our findings show, in particular,
that, over recent years, research on the topic has been characterised by a number of issues:
a almost all of the analysed studies are based on a single case study analysis, thus scarcely
contributing to a possible generalisation of the results
b all of the analysed issues (very technical ones) have been investigated by means of a
c there emerges an overall lack of connections between the analysed FM practices and the more
consolidated management theories.
These considerations lead to one main consequence: only very few focused journals, i.e., more
practitioner-oriented, are really interested in FM, thus consequently making the visibility of the topic within
academia scant. Because after salary and wages, the expenditure on facilities and real estate represents the
largest part of a company’s operating expenses, we really believe in the importance of the topic of FM for
firms and in the necessity of a new approach in dealing with it. Research should be increased by the adoption
of more structured theoretical frameworks for implementing both qualitative and quantitative studies. This
new way to conduct the research could open up the possibility for scholars engaged in the topic, to make
their studies more attractive for journals that cover broader management topics, thus making the topic more
Regarding future research on the topic, we do believe that both theory and practice could benefit from
both a comparative across-countries approach, in order to point out the best practices and improve the
national policies dedicated to the management of facilities. Further, and in particular for larger
organisations, business orientation is increasingly including environmental issues. Also the relevance of
effectively managing FM in terms of sustainability should be more deeply investigated, in order to make
FM practices more positively related to, for example, the reduction of CO2 emissions or to the restriction
of energy consumption.
Finally, the limitations of this study have to be highlighted. Although rigorous and replicable criteria
were used in the selection of studies, the investigated samples may not have exhausted all the literature on
FM. The selected criteria may have led us to identify the final sample in ways that other keywords and/or
other researchers may not have done.
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1 The concept of any form of life cycle in fields of study comes from different sources. For
example, Edmondson and McManus (2007, p.1158) state: “We suggest that theory in
management research falls along a continuum, from mature to nascent. Mature theory presents
well-developed constructs and models that have been studied over time with increasing
precision by a variety of scholars, resulting in a body of work consisting of points of broad
agreement that represent cumulative knowledge gained. Nascent theory, in contrast, proposes
tentative answers to novel questions of how and why, often merely suggesting new connections
among phenomena. Intermediate theory, positioned between mature and nascent, presents
provisional explanations of phenomena, often introducing a new construct and proposing
relationships between it and established constructs. Although the research questions may allow
the development of testable hypotheses, similar to mature theory research, one or more of the
constructs involved is often still tentative, similar to nascent theory research”. Furthermore,
Hughes et al. (2012) present a lifecycle model to study female entrepreneurship. In particular,
the authors state that a specific field of study can be defined as being “at the early childhood
stage” of development at least when a paucity of prior literature on a certain research published
within both scholarly outlets as well as the general media emerges. Accordingly, although the
depicted lifecycle’s approaches cannot be perfectly transferred to the FM, we recognise some
characteristics in the FM stream of research that lead us to define it as “still being in its infancy”,
such as the scant number of academic papers, a lack of theoretical investigation, etc.
2 The five papers aiming at reviewing existing literature and at deepening theoretical aspects are
not classified in any cluster.