1 - Chalmers tekniska högskola


1 - Chalmers tekniska högskola

ment in a prolonged structuration against an autonomous problem-solving practice, which is considered to

have major negative consequences for the company, both financially and socially.

Theoretically, the thesis contributes to an understanding of the relationship between structural premises and

the agents’ actions and the consequences of this. The thesis demonstrates how a sociological perspective can

provide important insight for causal analysis of failures and effects, in addition to traditional causal analysis,

since the analysis also includes unintended consequences of the agents’ social practices.

The knowledgeable agents are very "visible" in the processes with different prerequisites to achieve their re-

sults. The results can moreover best be described as mixed. The role and importance of different structures to

the quality of the observed project processes is highlighted; the project staff draws on a varied, nuanced net-

work of abstract structures. Problem solving is both considered as social practices, but also as the project

staffs’ general-dispositions (or habitus); as internal agent-related values. Theoretically the interrelationships

between structures are discussed as pluralism and/or hegemony, and the findings show that a certain hierar-

chy often seems to be present in which certain structures are more dominant than others. However, this inter-

relationship seems to be context dependent, where the agents are still important but constantly must consider

a number of limitations.

Finally the thesis briefly presents its main recommendations for how this knowledge can be used in the de-

velopment of business processes that reduce the extent of failures and defects. The recommendations are

aimed at 1) the interaction between the company and the projects, 2) competencies and interfaces, and 3) ex-

perience and knowledge sharing. However, the recommendations are very broad and general in nature, since

the enterprise-oriented change work is located outside of the dissertation.

The thesis’ specific contribution is primarily oriented at understanding the practices that produce and redress

failures and defects, while the change-oriented effort is placed outside of the thesis. This provides an excep-

tional opportunity for the company to gain insight into the relationship between the projects structural prem-

ises and actions of the agents on the construction projects and thus prospectively secure greater coherence

between corporate structures and project processes. The study follows the project over an extended period of

time and goes far deeper and closer to the agents than what the company usually are able to in an internal

analysis – covering also the individual and the project level. Specifically the thesis identify why certain cor-

porate structures have an impact on the quality of the construction project, while many others do not have the

desired effects. This understanding allows the host company to further develop project and business process-

es - also strategically. However, on a general level the thesis’ contributions can also be applied broader

across the construction industry.

Understanding the central role of trouble-shooting and problem solving in the realization of the projects is a

central point. And that not all processes can be planned ex ante - and planned based on the same rationality.

This demands the facilitation of a variety of planning and problem solving approaches, skills and structures

across the projects and processes. At the same time the thesis highlights how routines and experiences can be

seen as instrumental in producing and maintaining a certain level of failure, in addition to helping to reduce

the extent of failures and defects. This emphasise a ‘triggering of reflection’ in the processes which can be

facilitated in a number of ways. Moreover the emphasis on the unintended consequences of the routinized

practices changes a widespread understanding of routines and experiences as primarily positive to the quality

of the processes - and stresses a further need for different competencies and skills across projects.


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