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Us or them? A Case study of two internal project teams during construction of a new corporate HQ

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Us or them? A Case study of two internal project teams during construction of a new corporate HQ

Authors: Siri Hunnes Blakstad, Nils O.E. Olsson,

Presented in the 7th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organisation 2013, Trondheim, Norway.


In construction projects, where the building is built for the purpose of one particular client, there is a need for clear organization of roles and responsibilities. The purpose is to facilitate a process where clients’ and users’ demands and ambitions are understood and given as input to the construction project. This paper explores the roles and responsibilities as well as the interaction between two distinct teams; one team representing the “demand”: client and users, and another team representing the “supply”: construction business professionals, such as project- and construction managers, designers and contractors. The paper is based on a case study of a large, purpose-built office for a Norwegian bank. In the case study, both teams were managed by stakeholders representing the bank’s board of directors. Based on in-depth interviews with stakeholders on both sides, we analyze: (1) the different languages used by the two teams, (2) how demands are translated and understood, (3) if there are different interests, objectives and incentives on the two sides, and (4) if there are different decision processes. Almost two years after finalization, we see that these objectives are met to a large extent, and that the project is seen as successful by both teams. The main conclusion is, however, that there is a real difference in culture, language, decision processes and perceived objectives between the two teams. A common understanding of the different roles, interests and languages is crucial for successful execution, and common, clear objectives are needed to synchronize the efforts of the two teams in order to produce one project.