Integrated Design-Build Management - Studying Institutional Processes to Understand Project Coordination & Performance
Abstract: An increasing number of actors contributing with their skills to design-build projects increase the need for and complexity of coordination. The design-build project delivery method proposes to coordinate actors through collaborative interaction; however, even design-build projects result in poor coordination and building of relatively poor quality. Therefore, the purpose of this research is: to gain a deeper insight into how coordination is respectively enabled and constrained; to understand how coordination relates to project performance; and, to propose methodological elements for an integrated design-build management concept. An institutional work perspective explains how design-build projects are social phenomena characterised by structures, purposeful reflective interactions and political negotiation. Furthermore, coordination is interpreted as an institutional phenomenon and specifically coordination is defined as bringing together potentially social, temporal and spatially separated work elements. Coordination mechanisms include formal structures, relational interaction, and integrative institutional processes. Similarly, project performance is defined as a temporary negotiated order of multiple institutions. The research design consists of three literature studies combined with a double- qualitative empirical study of six design-build projects. The six projects are studied through a quadric-hermeneutic method enabling insight into the phenomenon of coordination. The analysis shows that during the design process peaceful co-existence, fragmentation and occasional integration occurred. During the detailed design phase a conflict between project quality and efficient construction arose. As a result, the design process dragged on, stalled and re-circuited and the project was not fully representative of all the institutions in the project. Nevertheless, due to a combination of structure, loose coupling and informal interaction the project team was able to begin and progress the build. Further, the analysis shows that a project’s constellation of institutions is reflected in the project’s performance. Following the analysis, an integrated design-build management concept proposes new meanings and formal structures for enabling integrating constellations of institutions to improve project coordination and performance. This research project concludes that project coordination is a process of mutating constellations of institutions where conflict, competition, blending, fragmentation and the lack of collective on-going institutional work are the primary constraints to project coordination. Similarly, integrating constellations of institutions and occasional fragmentation through temporary competition enable project coordination and increase project performance.
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