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Managing organizational interfaces in engineering construction projects: addressing fragmentation and boundary issues across multiple interfaces

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  • Richard Fellows
  • Anita M.M. Liu

Abstract

Extensive and increasing specialization in construction has prompted much criticism—that fragmentation leads to poor performance. Such issues are magnified on engineering construction projects due to their size, complexity, financing, duration and execution by many organizations, often from several diverse countries. Theory, research perspectives and findings of boundary management studies are examined in the context of management of engineering construction projects. The objectives are to investigate theory and practices of boundary management; to examine how boundary management operates on engineering construction projects; and to produce a research agenda for studying further, important aspects of boundary management impacting on engineering construction projects. Conclusions are that the emerging theories provide insights but it is the nature of the markets—notably, the diverse objectives of stakeholders and the procedures and their practices in pursuit of self-oriented benefits—which are the main impediments to achieving greater coordination and collaboration. On complex engineering construction projects, many requirements are emergent and project participants co-evolve to yield self-organizing governance as projects progress within an often fixed formal framework. Recognition of performance interdependence among participants is an essential underpinning of commitment and cooperation; development and use of appropriate boundary management through boundary spanning and boundary objects can foster interaction and coordination even with participants’ retention of their individual goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Fellows & Anita M.M. Liu, 2012. "Managing organizational interfaces in engineering construction projects: addressing fragmentation and boundary issues across multiple interfaces," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(8), pages 653-671, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:30:y:2012:i:8:p:653-671
    DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2012.668199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin, Joanne & Frost, Peter & O'Neill, Olivia A., 2004. "Organizational Culture: Beyond Struggles for Intellectual Dominance," Research Papers 1864, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    2. Herbert A. Simon, 1996. "The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691914, January.
    3. Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 1911. "The Principles of Scientific Management," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number taylor1911.
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