On problems, joint problem solving and change - A human behavioural approach in a construction sector context

Detta är en avhandling från Media-Tryck, Lund University, Sweden

Sammanfattning: Critics maintain that there are a number of troublesome issues resulting from the construction sector’s way of operating and that these remain, despite widespread criticism and measures designed to change all of this. The construction sector’s and the critics’ manner of describing these problems fails to a large extent to take into consideration the way people function in connection with practical problem solving. This is remarkable. People play a central role in all building activity, their being the ones who experience a need, make demands, commission work, formulate and solve problems, evaluate results, and the like. Therefore, people need to be included as a factor in an extended problem description here; the problem solver should be seen as part of the problem. Theories in psychology and social psychology can be used to identify relevant issues and to support the management of the human factor in such an extended problem definition. The research work which has resulted in the present thesis represents an attempt to understand the relationship between (1) the problems of the construction sector, (2) how the problems tend to be formulated, (3) the problemsolving strategies that are employed and (4) the problem solver involved. The aim of all of this has been to develop a methodology able to provide practical support for a given work group in a manner enabling it to make use of a greater share of its intrinsic and potential problem solving and value-creating capacity than would otherwise be the case. In a study of literature that is relevant, and in three separate empirical studies, the construction sector’s problem panorama and the possibility of creating extended and more effective problem management is investigated. The one study, involving use of a questionnaire, investigates the relationship between different problems, the work situation and how people tend to function generally. Another study was carried out as a series of seminars in which the participants were given the opportunity to increase their understanding of the significance of the human factor. A third study was carried out within an actual construction project, a small group of site managers being given, in connection with the ordinary meetings they held at the workplace, the opportunity to increase their understanding of the significance of the human factor and of the need for more extended problem formulations. The results presented in the thesis represent a proposal for just such an extended problem formulation and a methodology for implementing it. The studies carried out show that even those with long experience in the construction industry can discover new ways of seeing their daily sphere of activity. Implementation of the methodology involved presupposes the presence of a facilitating interventionist - “the liberator” – whose main objective is to free the problem solvers from different inhibiting phenomena (mainly psychological) that are operating in the problem-solving situation. This is done by introducing and leading an initiated dialogue regarding (1) the specific problems involved, as well as (2) problem solving in general, and (3) the effect of the human factor on the problem formulation, the problem solving and the decision making to be carried out.

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