Champions of practice: Context and habitus for unbounded learning in construction projects

Love, P. and Edwards, D. and Love, J. and Irani, Z. (2011) Champions of practice: Context and habitus for unbounded learning in construction projects. Facilities, 29 (5). pp. 193-208. ISSN 02632772 (ISSN)

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Abstract

Purpose: Knowledge is recognised as a valuable resource for organizational growth and sustained competitive advantage, especially for organizations operating in uncertain and challenging environments such as construction. Within the construction industry, communities of practice (CoP) have not been effectively embraced as a strategic tool for knowledge creation and sharing within and between organizations. Accordingly, this paper aims to review CoP and present a pragmatic approach for their utilisation. Design/methodology/approach: A review of the literature on CoPs is provided and examples from the authors' experience are provided to demonstrate their usefulness in addressing problems that are being confronted within the construction industry. Findings: The construction industry is sceptical about adopting "management fads" and gimmick technologies that provide no strategic competitive advantage. Evidence of this can be seen with the industry's reluctance, particularly in Australia, to embrace re-engineering and concepts associated with lean construction. The industry has been informally using CoP, or aspects thereof, for many years but it has not been formally recognised as a performance improvement tool. Organizations may find it difficult to build, sustain and integrate CoP within their organization, especially when staff are geographically spread over numerous remote locations. It is suggested that the underlying concept of CoP can create and sustain learning and knowing in projects. Originality/value: The challenge for construction organizations is not necessarily to use intra-organizational forms of CoP, but to learn how they can use them within the project environment within which they operate. A proposal for using communities of practice, namely "champions of practice" (CoPE), at an inter-organizational level is proposed in this paper. This hybrid form of CoP is dependent on the sharing of knowledge within and across organizational boundaries. For this to happen effectively within a project environment, the right set of communication tools, incentives, motivation, organizational and managerial mechanisms need to be in place for "best practice" to be formalised and shared in a meaningful and reflective way. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australia, Construction industry, Knowledge management, Learning
Subjects: K200 Building
Divisions: UoA Collections > UoA16: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment > Integrated Design Construction
Depositing User: Hussen Farooq
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 10:57
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2016 10:57
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2150

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