The Role of Problem Solving in Construction Management Practices

Publication: Research - peer-reviewArticle in proceedings – Annual report year: 2012

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Quality issues are a topic of continuous interest in the Danish construction industry. Not only can failures and defects be vital to the success of the single project but also the annual profits of the whole company can be put at risk. Moreover quality issues jeopardize the reputation of the entire industry. An Industrial PhD carried out at a large Danish contractor examined how failures and defects are produced and handled in the social practices of construction projects. The study addresses quality issues related to project management and examines the role of problem solving practices in the creation and redressing of failures and defects in construction processes. The theoretical framework is based on theory of structuration and enables the central analysis that includes underlying structures of the actors as well as the processes of structuration. The research project is designed as an abductive research process where theory and empirical data inform each other in iterations. A 15-month ethnographic field study comprised of workplace observations and qualitative interviews was carried out to be able to study the internal structures of the agents and the effect of their general-dispositions regarding quality issues in the decision making and redressing of defects and failures in the processes. The role of problem solving and trouble-shooting is analysed through the well-organized processes of erecting the precast concrete structure and the chaotic processes of constructing the penthouse storey on top of the building. The research highlights reactive and proactive problem solving practices as important for the completion of the construction project. Problem solving practices are however often forced into a reactive problem solving. Implications to the company are to direct the attention not only to the planning but also to facilitate and support the problem-solving and trouble-shooting competencies of projects managers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM) Conference
EditorsS.D. Smith
PublisherAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
Publication date2012
StatePublished - 2012
Event28th Annual ARCOM conference - Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Conference28th Annual ARCOM conference
LocationUniversity of Edinburgh
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • Building defects, Problem solving, Project management, Quality, Structuration
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ID: 12708499