Working in a loosely coupled system: exploring practices and implications of coupling work on construction sites
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

The conceptualization of construction as a loosely coupled system has been widely used to explain behaviour within the industry. In this article, we revisit the concept by exploring what it means to work at the micro-level within this system. Adopting a practice lens, this study focuses on the daily work of site managers, a category of workers who often have been described to have a hub-like role in construction projects. The findings highlight how their work consists of activities that can be seen as mundane, yet simultaneously fill an important coupling function in the projects, which we conceptualize as coupling work. Coupling work denotes a managerial work practice through which site managers use slack from the parent organization to tighten site-activities. However, they do so in a particular way that tightens the projects closer to their own authority which, in turn, sustains organizational loose coupling. The study contributes to debates on change and development in construction by showing how coupling work is produced and reproduced to preserve the autonomy and control of site managers.

Loosely coupled systems

coupling work

construction site managers

managerial work practice


Rikard Sandberg

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Construction Management

Martin Löwstedt

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Construction Management

Christine Räisänen

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Construction Management

Construction Management and Economics

0144-6193 (ISSN) 1466-433X (eISSN)

Vol. 39 3 212-226




Systemvetenskap, informationssystem och informatik med samhällsvetenskaplig inriktning



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