Individual Learning in Construction Projects: Professions and their Approaches

Ingeborg Wasif, Per-Erik Josephson, Alexander Styhre


New materials, use of sophisticated technologies and increased customer demands, in combination with growing competition among construction companies, have led to a high organizational boundaries. The results indicate that personal networks are the most common source of learning for all professions. While clients, architects, and designers also engage in reading and attending courses, site managers and workers are less engaged in these activities. Experimenting and organizing for learning appear to be underutilized strategies by all professions. This leads to the conclusion that attempts to increase learning have to address the differences in learning behaviours of the various groups. Further, focus on experimenting and organizing for learning is a possibility to change the learning behaviour from learning as a consequence of problems to learning for future of specialization. For successful integration of the different professional specialists, there is a need for shared learning between project co-workers. Based on twenty eight interviews in six different Swedish construction projects, this paper illustrates strategies for individual and shared learning, among different actors and across various

Full Text



Anheim, F. (2003) Importance of the Project Team to the Creation of Learning Within and Between Construction Projects. In Atkin, B., Borgbrant, J., and Josephson, P.-E. (ed.) Construction Process Improvement, Blackwell Science, pp 183-194.

Appelbaum, S. H., and Gallagher, J. (2000) The competitive advantage of organizational learning, Journal of Workplace Learning: Employee counseling today, Vol. 12, Issue 2, pp.40-56

Argyris, C., and Sch–n, D.A. (1996) Organizational Learning II: Theory, Method, and Practice, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., USA

Bang, H.L., and Clausen, L. (2001) Learning and innovation in project based firms: a pilot case study of Danish trade contractors, Proceedings of the 2Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organization, 24-25 April 2001, Gothenburg, Sweden, pp.201-209

Bresnen, M., Goussevskaia, A., and Swan, J. (2004) Embedding new management knowledge in project-based organizations, Organization Studies, Vol. 25, No. 9, pp. 1535-1555

Bryans, P., and Smith R. (2000) Beyond training: reconceptualising learning at work, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 12, No. 6, pp.228-235

Chinowsky, P.S. (2001) Construction management practices are slowly changing, Leadership and Management in Engineering, Vol.1, Issue 2, pp.17-22

Chinowsky, P.S., and Meredith, J. E. (2000) Strategic management in construction, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 126, No.1, pp.1-9

Cook, S., and Yanow, D. (1993) Culture and organizational learning, In Cohen, M.D., and Sproull, L.S. (ed.) Organizational Learning, SAGE Publication, Inc., Thousand Oaks, USA, pp.430-459

Fiol, C.M., and Lyles, M.A. (1985) Organizational Learning, Academy of Management Review, Vol.10, No.4, pp.803-813

Gheradi, S. (2000) The organizational learning of safety in communities of practice, Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol.9, Issue 1, pp.7-12

Hansen, M.T., Mors, M.L., and L–v–s, B. (2005) Knowledge sharing in organizations: multiple networks, multiple phases, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 48, No.5, pp. 776-793

Holt, G.D., Love, P.E.D., and Li, H. (2000) The learning organisation: towards a paradigm for mutually beneficial strategic construction alliances, International Journal for Project Management, Vol. 18, pp.415-421

Hong, J. (1999) Structuring for organizational learning, The Learning Organization, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.173-185

Huber, G.P. (1996) Organizational learning: the contributing processes and the literatures, In Cohen, M.D., and Sproull, L.S. (ed.) Organizational Learning, SAGE Publication, Inc., Thousand Oaks, USA, pp.124-162

Huemer, L., and – stergren, K. (2000) Strategic change and organizational learning in two 'Swedish' construction firms, Construction Management and Economics, Vol 18, pp. 635-642

Kasvi, J.J.J., Vartiainen, M., and Hailikari, M. (2003) Managing knowledge and knowledge competence in projects and project organisations, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 21, Issue 8, pp. 571-582

Lave, J., and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Miles, M.B., and Huberman, A. M. (1984) Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods, Beverly Hills, London & New Delhi: Sage.

Nonaka, I., Konno, N., and Toyama, R. (2001) Emergence of Ba", In Nonaka, I., and Nishiguchi, T. (ed.) Knowledge emergence: social, technical, and evolutionary dimension of knowledge creation, Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, USA, pp. 13-29"

Pawlowsky, P., Forslin, J., and Reinhardt, R. (2001) Practice and tools of organizational learning, In Dierkes, M., Berthoin Antal, A., Child, J., and Nonaka, I. (ed.) Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge, Oxford University Press, pp. 775-792

Rameezdeen, R. (2003) Organizational culture in construction: an employee perspective, The Australian Journal of Construction Economics and Building, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 19-30

Scarbrough, H., Bresnen, M., Edelman, L.F. Laurent, S., Newell, S., and Swan, J. (2004) The process of project-based learning. An explorative study, Management Learning, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 491-506

Schindler, M. and Eppler, M.J. (2003) Harvesting project knowledge: a review of project leaning methods and success factors, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 21, Issue 3, pp. 219-228

Scott, S. and Harris, R. (1998) A methodology for generating feedback in the construction industry, The Learning Organisation, Volume 5, No 3, pp. 121-127

Senge, P.M. (1990) The fifth discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation, Random House Business Books, London, Great Britain

Simon, H.A. (1996) Bounded rationality and organizational learning, In Cohen, M.D., and Sproull, L.S. (ed.) Organizational Learning, SAGE Publication, Inc., Thousand Oaks, USA, pp. 175-187

Spatz, D.M. (2000) Team-building in construction, Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction, Volume 5, No 3, pp. 93-105

Strauss, A.L., and Corbin, J. (1998) Basics of Qualitative Research, 2ed., London, Thousand oaks & New Delhi: Sage.

Styhre, A., Josephson, P.-E., and Knauseder, I. (2003) Core rigidities in construction projects, , Presented at the 17th Nordic Conference on Business Studies, 14-16 August 2003, Reykjavik, Island

Sverlinger, P.-O. (1999) Knowledge management in the construction industry: an inside perspective of four technical consultant companies, Proceedings of the Nordic Seminar on Construction Economics and Organization, 12-13 April 1999, Gothenburg, Sweden, pp. 201-209

Sverlinger, P.-O. (2000) Managing Knowledge in Professional Service Organisations, Technical Consultants Serving the Construction Industry, Chalmers Reproservice, Gothenburg, Sweden

Tell, F., and S–derlund, J. (2001) L–rande mellan projekt, In Berggren, C., and Lindkvist, L. (ed.) Projekt: Organisation f–r m–lorientering och l–rande, Studentlitteratur, Lund, Sweden, pp. 220-257

Weick, K.E. (1995) The nontraditional quality of organizational learning, In Cohen, M.D., and Sproull, L.S. (ed.) Organizational Learning, SAGE Publication, Inc., Thousand Oaks, USA, pp.193-174

Yeung, A.K., Ulrich, D.O., Nason, S.W., and von Glinow, M.A. (1999) Organizational Learning Capability, Oxford University Press, New York, USA

Yin, R. K. (1994) Case Study Research, Design and Methods, 2nd ed. Newbury Park, Sage Publications