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Constructing learning: adversarial and collaborative working in the British construction industry

Constructing learning: adversarial and collaborative working in the British construction industry
Constructing learning: adversarial and collaborative working in the British construction industry
This paper examines two competing systems of organising the
construction process and their consequences for learning. Under the adversarial system, contractors compete solely on price, risks are shifted onto those next in line and disputes are institutionalised through complicated, but inevitably incomplete, contracts. However, under collaborative working the costs and risks of the project are shared and the parties involved communicate openly and freely, often in the absence of tightly specified contracts. The move from the former to the latter –
prompted and encouraged by government enquiries, large public sector clients and building regulations – represents a shift towards a climate in which problems are shared and solved regardless of where they occur in the productive system (a process conceptualised as ‘knotworking’ in the literature). The paper argues that such learning theories and policy pressures from above fail to take adequately into account the heavy hand
of history and the importance of understanding the nature of the
productive systems in which ‘knotworking’ is expected to occur. Both are important in understanding the fragility of collaborative working across the stages and structures of the construction production process which place limits on making ‘knotworking’ an habitual and commonplace activity.
13
Cardiff School of Social Sciences
Bishop, Dan
0563e887-d501-43ce-b2f4-9e63a556e1eb
Felstead, Alan
514e6ef7-2443-49aa-883e-706911d9191d
Fuller, Alison
c6b47796-05b5-4548-b67e-2ca2f2010fef
Jewson, Nick
f96f4be3-d026-4140-9c81-265d74aab544
Unwin, Lorna
8203040c-b1e8-4948-bc2e-4bb2db648720
Bishop, Dan
0563e887-d501-43ce-b2f4-9e63a556e1eb
Felstead, Alan
514e6ef7-2443-49aa-883e-706911d9191d
Fuller, Alison
c6b47796-05b5-4548-b67e-2ca2f2010fef
Jewson, Nick
f96f4be3-d026-4140-9c81-265d74aab544
Unwin, Lorna
8203040c-b1e8-4948-bc2e-4bb2db648720

Bishop, Dan, Felstead, Alan, Fuller, Alison, Jewson, Nick and Unwin, Lorna (2008) Constructing learning: adversarial and collaborative working in the British construction industry (Learning as Work Research Paper, 13) Cardiff, Wales. Cardiff School of Social Sciences 35pp.

Record type: Monograph (Working Paper)

Abstract

This paper examines two competing systems of organising the
construction process and their consequences for learning. Under the adversarial system, contractors compete solely on price, risks are shifted onto those next in line and disputes are institutionalised through complicated, but inevitably incomplete, contracts. However, under collaborative working the costs and risks of the project are shared and the parties involved communicate openly and freely, often in the absence of tightly specified contracts. The move from the former to the latter –
prompted and encouraged by government enquiries, large public sector clients and building regulations – represents a shift towards a climate in which problems are shared and solved regardless of where they occur in the productive system (a process conceptualised as ‘knotworking’ in the literature). The paper argues that such learning theories and policy pressures from above fail to take adequately into account the heavy hand
of history and the importance of understanding the nature of the
productive systems in which ‘knotworking’ is expected to occur. Both are important in understanding the fragility of collaborative working across the stages and structures of the construction production process which place limits on making ‘knotworking’ an habitual and commonplace activity.

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Published date: January 2008

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 63794
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/63794
PURE UUID: 7da56394-9b79-4859-ae04-538fc4948f61

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Date deposited: 04 Nov 2008
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 20:23

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Contributors

Author: Dan Bishop
Author: Alan Felstead
Author: Alison Fuller
Author: Nick Jewson
Author: Lorna Unwin

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