Bresnen, M (2010) Keeping it real? Constituting partnering through boundary objects. Construction Management and Economics, 28(6), 615-28.
This paper is available for free download until 31 January 2012.
Abstract: Despite the wealth of research on partnering in construction, comparatively little work has attempted to understand partnering as a socially constructed and emergent phenomenon (Bresnen, 2009). Taking a practice-based approach, this paper deploys the concept of boundary object (e.g. Star and Griesemer, 1989) to explore the mechanisms associated with partnering in the construction industry context. Building upon the observations that such objects are themselves emergent phenomena and can either enable or hinder communication/knowledge sharing, the paper uses exploratory case study research to examine the ways in which the mechanisms used to initiate and develop a partnering relationship (charters, contracts, selection mechanisms and the like) are used to achieve integration across organizational boundaries. The analysis emphasizes the highly situated and localized nature of partnering in practice and assesses the implications for attempts to develop more generic and precise definitions and guidelines for implementing partnering in the industry more widely.