Autopoietic organization of firm: an illustration for the construction industry
Radosavljevic, M. (2001) Autopoietic organization of firm: an illustration for the construction industry. In: 17th Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2001, Salford, UK, pp. 121-131.
Generally poor productivity, delays, low profitability and exceeded budgets are Common problems in modern construction management, however it seems that a basic obstacle lies far deeper in the understanding of a firm's fundamental mission, its existence. The main objective of this paper therefore is to examine the operational living of a construction firm and by doing that to reveal the key problem or the solution for a construction firm - its organization. A firm as a social system in which interactions between its constitutive components (employees) are surordinated to its maintenance (keeping a system alive) is an autopoietic social system. Two domains of external perturbations are uncovered to which a construction firm has to adapt (market driven and project driven perturbations). Constructed conceptual model of an autopoietic organization is based upon two necessary and sufficient operational domains that a firm has to create in order to become an autopoietic, adaptive social system. The first one is a domain of interactions between employees and other operationally external systems, which is representing an idea-generating domain of interactions. The second is employee's autonomous operational domain, which embodies employee's autonomy and individuality and represents a necessary condition for the establishment of an idea-generating domain. Finally, it is recognized that interactions within these four domains keep a construction firm alive.