IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

A critique of conceptions of design and management in construction projects

Listed author(s):
  • David Boyd
  • David Bentley
Registered author(s):

    Construction is about changing the world in the future from our intentions. This involves organizing and manipulating the physical and social world through design, management and craft. These require thinking about the desired end product but also the means of achieving it. Thinking is set in social norms, here called pre-conceptualizations, which configure our conceptions and give them social validity, forming expectations of what can happen and how to improve it. The conventional pre-conceptualization of construction design and management is critiqued using a case study. This pre-conceptualization is shown to be backward looking where the future is assumed to be like the past and knowledge is ascribed to individuals. The causes of failure then appear evident and knowable inducing maladaptive management and blame of individuals. However, design/management is in reality forward looking; events cannot be seen with such significance looking into the future. Two alternative pre-conceptualizations are presented and their implications explored. The first acknowledges evolution, which works against intent, thus explaining deviations. The second involves complexity science where intentions are emergent phenomena and socially constituted, thus explaining improvisation and improvement. In conclusion, new pre-conceptualizations are required to avoid blame cultures, facilitate creative solutions and develop enduring improvements.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Construction Management and Economics.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 (April)
    Pages: 441-454

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:30:y:2012:i:6:p:441-454
    DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2012.688136
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:30:y:2012:i:6:p:441-454. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.