Organisational Learning Capabilities in Swedish Construction Projects
Doctoral thesis, 2007
Construction one of the major industries in Sweden, is highly projectified. The project organisation includes multiple firms, various professions and numerous individuals. This work environment gives opportunities for organisational learning. However, practitioners complain that their learning is limited, because they do not have access to information, do not have the right competence and are not able to share experiences. This limited learning or rather lack of learning that they experience causes errors and inefficiency.
The overall aim of this thesis is to explore and describe learning capabilities in Swedish construction project organisations. To fulfil this purpose four research questions, focusing on different organisational units have been formulated: How does previous research treat organisational learning in construction projects? How do individuals learn in construction project organisations? What learning approaches are used by construction project organisations? How could organisational learning capabilities enhance construction project organisations performance?
To answer these questions a research approach including different methods was used. First, a literature review built the theoretical frame. Based on the literature review, an interview study, including six construction projects, explored aspects of organisational learning capabilities in construction projects. The outcome of the literature review and the interview study led to a questionnaire study. The questionnaire study included 741 valid responses from individuals belonging to 47 construction projects.
The findings show that previous research about organisational learning concentrates on single aspects of learning related to individuals or firms and not to the construction project organisation. Individuals claimed that they mainly learn through direct experiences made in construction projects and through their individual networks. Moreover, construction project organisational learning capabilities are related to leadership, complexity of product & process, clarity of goals & processes, openness & influence, networking, experimenting and organising. To enhance the organisational learning capabilities it is necessary to consider the interrelations among these seven factors.
To conclude, organisational learning capabilities in construction have to be addressed in the contexts of the project. Moreover, the influence of clarity of goals & processes, openness & influence and leadership on three identified learning approaches: networking, experimenting and organising needs to be taken into account for all professions. This means instead of evaluating and discussing single aspects of organisational learning capabilities, the interrelations of these aspects need to be addressed.
organisational learning capabilities
and organisational networks
individual learning approaches
sal VK, Sven Hultins gata 6, Göteborg
Opponent: Professor Mike Bresnen, School of Management, University of Leicester, UK