Title: Knowledge sharing in construction partnering projects - redundancy, boundary objects and brokers

Authors: Christian Koch; Christian Thuesen

Addresses: Institute of Business and Technology, Aarhus University, Birk Centerpark 15, 7400 Herning, Denmark ' Planning and Management of the Built Environment, DTU Management Engineering, Produktionstorvet Building 424, Room 118, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

Abstract: This article adopts practice-based theory for understanding inter-organisational knowledge work and extends it with a discussion of the role of redundancy. In this view, a constellation of firms is a multiple configuration of communities of practices, characterised by overlapping practises, multiple memberships and different levels of participation, and accompanied by a governance frame. The paper discusses central mechanisms for coordinating knowledge in such a complex construction project. The knowledge relations are conceptualised through focusing on redundancy, understood as negotiated common assignment of meaning, brokers (e.g., design managers), boundary objects (e.g., drawings) and arenas (e.g., meetings). The paper presents an ethnographic case study of a project partnership between engineers, architects and contractors in construction using the partnering concept. The focus is on two dialogue excerpts, one on process, and one on product knowledge exchanges. The diversity and disjunctive feature of the practices form a condition of possibility for knowledge handling and synthesis into the built construct. Relation-based interaction is necessary with boundary objects and brokers, requisite redundancy and governance.

Keywords: knowledge management; KM; practice-based theory; redundancy; partnering projects; architects; engineers; contractors; construction projects; knowledge sharing; boundary objects; inter-organisational knowledge; communities of practice; CoPs; overlapping practices; multiple memberships; participation levels; governance frames; central mechanisms; knowledge coordination; knowledge relations; brokers; design managers; common assignments; negotiated meanings; drawings; meetings; ethnographic case studies; ethnography; processes; product knowledge; diversity; disjunctive features; knowledge handling; synthesis; built constructs; relation-based interaction; schools; local municipalities; Denmark; project organisation; project management; project costs; cost management; contract management; contracts.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPOM.2013.053150

International Journal of Project Organisation and Management, 2013 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.156 - 175

Received: 19 Jul 2010
Accepted: 30 Jan 2011

Published online: 04 Feb 2013 *

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