Learning from project-related failures in UK construction project based organisations: an examination of actor approaches, intentions and behaviours

Chiponde, Danstan Bwalya (2023) Learning from project-related failures in UK construction project based organisations: an examination of actor approaches, intentions and behaviours. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Society is experiencing what is being referred to as ‘projectification’ since projects have become a common way of organising across several sectors. This is based on the understanding that the use of projects improves service delivery. However, the use of ‘projects’ has not yielded the much-anticipated efficiency since projects continue to experience project-related failures (PrF). Thus, Project Based Organisations (PBOs) within the construction sector are being encouraged to learn from failures. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse PBOs’ practices and approaches towards learning from project-related failures (Lf-PRF) within the United Kingdom Construction Industry (UKCI). To achieve that, a qualitative and exploratory approach to the study was adopted. 32 semi-structured interviews were conducted with construction professionals within the UKCI. The data was analysed using thematic- and discourse analysis- data analysis methods. The findings reveal that the definition of failure remains subjective with a huge reliance on time, cost and quality parameters. In their attempt to Lf-PRF, PBOs mostly use project review meetings and lessons learnt sessions. Cross-organisational learning is rarely done, with external learning typically taking the form of continuous professional development (CPD) or statutory training. From a Neo-Institutional Theory perspective, this shows a large influence of the external environment via coercive and normative isomorphic forces on Lf-PRF. Notable barriers to Lf-PRF include negative perception of failure; project constraints; not owning failures, and; unstandardized definition of failure. Realising the complex nature of failure and learning and since PBOs interact with other organisations such as competitors, professional-and regulatory- bodies, a multilevel model involving the sectoral, organisational and project levels was developed. Additionally, instead of the typical approach of Lf-PRF via ‘project reviews’, PBOs are encouraged to create a conducive environment for Lf-PRF by embedding the following facets within their organisations; structural, cultural, psychological, policy, contextual, technological, governance and the Nth facet (representing continuous learning). This study contributes to the understanding of the under researched area of PrF, the social context of Lf-PRF and provides a toolkit for PBOs to consider when learning from failure. The implications for the sector and PBOs are that for meaningful Lf-PRF to be achieved, communication and collaboration should be improved across the sector and project parties (and teams). This also calls for a change in the perception of failure from it being a negative experience to being an opportunity for learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K900 Others in Architecture, Building and Planning
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 03 May 2023 08:24
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 08:27
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51561

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