Social practices, structure and agency: Effects on environmental management in construction projects
Conference contribution, 2006
This paper discussed social processes and practices associated with environmental management in project organisations. The focus is on the interplay between structural conditions and managerial agency and its effects. Drawing on a qualitative case study, organizational and social mechanisms that influence the interplay between environmental management and project management have been studied. Findings show the existence of built-in tensions in the relationship between how the environmental work respectively how the project is organized and managed. An effect from these tensions is that organizational units within the corporation, due to isolation, partly strive towards different goals. This way of organizing also restrains the environmental organizations ability to communicate environmental information as well as the project organizations ability to handle environmental issues properly. It is concluded that the way environmental issues are dealt with in construction projects largely depends on their legitimization in the project and how well socio-cultural communication processes succeeded in creating meaning and understanding for practitioners in relation to their specific practice, situation and context. It is also found that environmental work governed by a top-down controlled environmental management system match poorly with the decentralized and autonomous decision-making culture of project organisations, making them insufficient for situated project practice. It is concluded that top management need to support the establishment of communicative communities of practice by offering arenas where members from the two units can team-up.