Special issue on theorizing expertise in construction


Construction is a rich source of philosophical problems. Although construction research must meet the constant challenge of ensuring the relevance of theory to practice much work contains unwarranted assumptions about the nature of reality and social practice. Thinking and action in practice is shaped, sustained and valued by diverse social and organisational practices. Failure to suitably conceptualize this diversity leads to inadequately reflective or misguided theorizing. Since expertise is excellent performance it is central to both undertaking and explaining successful construction practice. In practice and academia when assumptions about the nature of expertise, the methods used for studying it, and its role in construction practice are explored philosophy is relevant to the roots of such inquiry.

Expertise research manifests itself in various forms in different academic fields. Within construction management work on expertise tends to be pragmatically oriented towards the improvement of practice with a focus upon seeking and implementing solutions to practical difficulties. In philosophy expertise research has a more reflective character with an emphasis towards the formulation and in depth discussion of problems. The extent to which researchers are exploring the notion of expertise and its management means that serious examination of its philosophical dimensions is not just merited but long overdue. The intention of this special issue is to develop a dialogue between these two fields and thus enrich expertise theorizing in construction.

Theorizing expertise is valuable and difficult as it bridges thinking and action, reason and intuition, and knowledge and learning; it is possessed by individuals and groups. Making philosophical sense of these diverse aspects of expertise is essential for more accurate and informative conceptions of practice. Improvements in conceptualizations of practice are a key element in addressing the continuous demand for superior construction management. Without better theory reliably identifying desirable changes in practice can be hard so investigating the concept of expertise has implications for construction education and research as well as for effective practice and organisational development. Furthermore, theorizing construction expertise extends existing industry work about knowledge management, experiential learning and radical education.

This special issue will explore how various philosophical perspectives on expertise could shape the practice research agenda with sufficient theoretical rigour to constructively advance critical debate. Thematically contributions could cover philosophical accounts of the nature of expertise (including their underpinning assumptions), ways of theorizing expertise, methodological approaches to investigating expertise (including appropriately theorizing empirical studies of expertise) and the role of expertise in construction practice. All the contributions will contain a section addressing questions about ways of theorizing expertise and methodological approaches to studying expertise in order to develop dialogue about the kinds of theoretical issues which matter for construction expertise. The issue will invite a variety of contributions including research papers, shorter notes and letters from researchers in construction and the built environment, philosophy and other disciplines.

Papers are sought in three broad clusters of ideas:

  • The nature of expertise and practice
  • Expertise and knowledge management in construction
  • Vocational education and construction education

Number of papers and types of contribution

The editors are seeking 12-18 papers for this Special Issue. Contributions may be papers, notes, letters, book reviews or obituaries, in order to provide a balanced and complete issue of the journal.

It is not expected that any one author will have more than one paper accepted as sole or joint author. If there are exceptional circumstances, the papers would be treated exceptionally by being referred back to the journal editors.

Author guidelines

Manuscripts should be in the range of 4,000 – 10,000 words.  The call is open and competitive, and all contributions will go through a double-blind peer review process. The Guest Editors for the special issue are happy to discuss ideas for papers:

  • Professor Mark Addis – Birmingham City University, UK – mark.addis @ bcu.ac.uk
  • Professor David Boyd, Birmingham City University, UK – david.boyd @ bcu.ac.uk
  • Dr Ani Raiden, Nottingham Trent University, UK – ani.raiden @ ntu.ac.uk


  • Call for abstracts: 2 Dec 2014
  • Invitation to submit full papers: 15 Jan 2015
  • First draft submissions (3 mths to prepare MS): 1 May 2015
  • Decision with referee comments (3 mths): 1 August 2015
  • Revised papers (2 mths): 1 Oct 2015
  • Final submission and final edits (2 mths): 1 Dec 2015
  • Production: 15 Dec 2015
  • Publication: 1 Mar 2016

About Will

Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK. Editor-in-Chief, Construction Management and Economics (1992-2016). Programme Director, MSc Construction Management. School Director of Postgraduate Teaching Programmes.
This entry was posted in Current calls, Special issue call and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Special issue on theorizing expertise in construction

  1. Thanks for the initiative, Will, such an invitation takes a really strong message: building theoretical views from practice, basing them on “theoretical rigour”.

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