Using Actor-network Theory to Understand Knowledge Sharing in an Architecture Firm
Many organizations within the construction industry are currently developing standardized practices. Increased standardization involves new ways of organizing construction projects, changing interrelations between professional groups, setting a new culture, i.e. challenging the institutionalized way of being. It, for instance, leads to a concentration of key knowledge into specific knowledge networks and artifacts. This in turn creates new and/or strengthened roles of expertise within the organizations leading to a reallocation of knowledge, as well as power, from the project setting to centrally organized functions, specialist consultancies and knowledge networks. Based on a case study of one Architect Company, this paper examines the tensions and paradoxes inherent in these ‘new’ roles. In the study, 13 persons were interviewed; actors responsible for changing practices, developing tools and ensuring learning among employees. The study contributes to theory building within a research field that examines the emergence of new roles and practices in construction and the contradictions which arise leading to tensions and possible conflict. Many of the assumptions that underlie these new practices run counter to the established norms and local practices as well as to construction practitioners’ ‘intuitions’.