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Title: Making changes : an ethnography of client changes on a construction project
Author: Shipton, Clare
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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Changes to client requirements are inevitable during construction. Industry discourse is concerned with minimising and controlling changes, however, accounts of making changes are rare. Therefore, the aim is to explore how changes to client requirements are made on a live construction project. In response to calls for more research to be undertaken into working practices, an eight-month intensive ethnographic study is adopted to gain insights into the everyday, lived nature of changes on a hospital project. Contract change management procedures were used and modified on the project. Changes developed incrementally and grew into multiple sub-changes as information about requirements became available. Determining requirements of changes was difficult due to instability in the healthcare environment and a lack of design standardisation. The contract procedures do not acknowledge this way in which changes develop; everyday practices appeared protracted in comparison. Nevertheless, there was a strong emphasis on using contract procedures to investigate changes as a means of demonstrating best practice, transparent and accountable decision-making, even when it was known that a change was not required. Hence, the project team members' concerns for following procedures overshadowed considerations about the content of changes. Nevertheless, the contract procedures acted as boundary objects, coordinating the management of changes across communities of practice on the project. Similarly, the project team members drew upon past project experiences and often superficially reused technical terminology to mitigate their lack of understanding about changes. The original contribution to knowledge of this research is its in-depth insights into the complexity of managing changes on a construction project. It highlights the value that knowledge gained from ethnographic accounts, which respect the irreducibility of embedded practices, can have in improving understanding of construction. Furthermore, insights into how contract procedures facilitate and impede making changes can inform contract drafting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available