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In the circuit of credibility: construction workers and the norms of 'a good job'


  • Alexander Styhre


In the contemporary managerial regime, managerial control is increasingly being maintained through indirect forms of control, centring on identities and ideologies and instituting the co-workers as enterprising, self-regulating subjects. The construction industry has, over time, managed to maintain a craft tradition whereby individual skills rather than engineered work routines have been favoured, resulting in management control largely having been decentralized to work teams. A study of construction work at three sites suggests that managerial control is embedded in collectively enacted norms concerning what constitutes 'good work'. The capacity to perform in accordance with such norms is translated into credibility, a reputation for being capable of adhering to the norms of good work. The construction industry and onsite construction work thus operate on the basis of an 'economy of reputation' or a 'circuit of credibility', prescribing what constitutes adequate performance and imposing sanctions on underachieving individuals or companies. Such norms and circuits of credibility serve to protect the role and status of construction workers and to maintain jurisdiction over fields of expertise, but they may also have a conservating effect on the industry, being severely criticized in terms of failing to bring about innovations and lower production costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Styhre, 2011. "In the circuit of credibility: construction workers and the norms of 'a good job'," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 199-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:29:y:2011:i:2:p:199-209
    DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2010.526623

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    Norms; credibility; reputation; management control;


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