Based on an 18 month ethnographic case study of a construction partnering project, the paper adopts practice based theory for understanding the identity formation and practices of collaboration in construction. Drawing upon practice based theory in general and actor network theory and communities of practice in particular, the construction project is interpreted as configuration of networked practices characterized by strong professional practices (e.g. architects and contractors) and locally negotiated collaboration practices. During the construction project, actors gain experiences in relation to the actual building and their profession, but concurrently they learn how to engage in collaboration with other professions in the project. These practice-based learning processes are very influential and effective. Newcomers to a profession quickly learn the name of the game – for better or for worse. Overtime they learn to behave competently at the boundaries between professions forming their identity and a sense of belonging in relation to an institutionalized role and the realization of the physical building. In this process the actors develop “pride” in terms of authorship of the physical building and membership their profession. However another consequence of these learning processes is the development of prejudices. Prejudices are often viewed as a negative aspect of building processes as it hinders collaboration among the professions. Consequently prejudices is often seen as something which should be eliminated e.g. in the partnering concept. Stemming from practice based theory the paper on the contrary argues that prejudice represents accumulated experiences from previous projects shaped by the negotiation of meaning within professions. In this perspective prejudice is integrated in the daily building practices – enabling and inhibiting collaboration. Pride and prejudice are thus central constitutive elements of present construction practices in the formation of identity and development of collaboration processes.
Proceedings of the 29th Annual Arcom Conference, 2013, p. 457-467
Identity; Collaboration; Practice based theory; Partnering; Prejudice
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29th Annual ARCOM conference, 2013
ARCOM, Association of Researchers in Construction Management