Gottlieb, S C and Haugbølle, K (2013) Contradictions and collaboration: partnering in-between systems of production, values and interests. Construction Management and Economics, 31(2), 119-134
This paper is available for free download until 31 May 2013.
Abstract: For more than a decade, partnering has been pursued as a promising way of overcoming the drawbacks of the building process. Despite intense and repeated efforts, promises have only to some extent been satisfied. Based on an example case study of a partnering project, activity theory is applied in an analysis of how project outcomes are shaped mutually by the underlying dynamics of construction and innovative initiatives like partnering. The case was studied through a combination of questionnaire surveys, interactive workshops, semi-structured qualitative research interviews and onsite observations. Three main findings are presented. First, that the dynamics of construction can be understood as the interrelation of three activity systems on production, values and interests. Second, partnering as a change strategy is overlaid on existing practice rather than substituting it. Third, partnering may reduce some contradictions but induces others simultaneously. In conclusion, the potential of partnering as a change strategy depends on the ability to understand and manage contradictions in and between existing institutionalized activity systems in construction of production, values and interests.