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Change management in practice: an ethnographic study of changes to contract requirements on a hospital project

Shipton, C., Hughes, W. ORCID: and Tutt, D. (2014) Change management in practice: an ethnographic study of changes to contract requirements on a hospital project. Construction Management and Economics, 32 (7-8). pp. 787-803. ISSN 0144-6193 (special Issue: ARCOM Conference Issue)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2014.915336


Changes to client requirements are inevitable during construction. Industry discourse is concerned with minimizing and controlling changes. However, accounts of practices involved in making changes are rare. In response to calls for more research into working practices, an ethnographic study of a live hospital project was undertaken to explore how changes are made. A vignette of a meeting exploring the investigation of changes illustrates the issues. This represents an example from the ethnographic fieldwork, which produced many observations. There was a strong emphasis on using change management procedures contained within the contract to investigate changes, even when it was known that the change was not required. For the practitioners, this was a way of demonstrating best practice, transparent and accountable decision-making regarding changes. Hence, concerns for following procedures sometimes overshadowed considerations about whether or not a change was required to improve the functionality of the building. However, the procedures acted as boundary objects between the communities of practice involved on the project by coordinating the work of managing changes. Insights suggest how contract procedures facilitate and impede the making of changes, which can inform policy guidance and contract drafting.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:37390
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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