Exploring the 'hidden' in organisations: methodological challenges in construction management research


There has been recognition of the limitations of technocratic approaches to construction management research, and critical theorists in the field have often rejected prescriptive explanations of social phenomena. Thus, there has been a rise in the use of interpretive methodological approaches and a proliferation of qualitative research methods in the construction management literature. Still, interpretive research that requires interaction between the researcher and her informants often confronts the age-old, fundamental challenge that is posed to social science research: that is, what really does go on in organisations, beyond what is (and can be) said and seen? Through post-hoc reflection of a recent study into innovation in construction, it was found that multiple perspectives matter in shaping our understanding of how innovative practices manifests in construction. An observation was also made regarding the hidden agendas of senior management participants in recognising, rewarding and promoting innovation, which potentially contribute to disconnections between theory and practice of innovation in construction. Questions are raised as to how researchers can help articulate these ‘hidden’ agendas and methodological challenges discussed here points to the virtues and limitations of the ethnographic approach

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