Communication in Building Design Management - A Comparative Study of Norway and Germany
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In contemporary construction, first-rate communication is arguably the one aspect that pervades all others. Without it, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) teams cannot succeed in realising their objectives. Simultaneously, there is a growing realisation that lack of effective communication is one of the main reasons for many of the challenges currently threatening the efficiency of the AEC industry. Theory abounds on how to communicate more effectively in organisations, and a number of different approaches and techniques have been successfully applied to other sectors. However, due to the complexity and dynamism that exists in the industry s project-based structure, a majority of these approaches are difficult to implement in AEC organisations. In spite of this, there appears to be very little evidence of theoretical and applied research focusing on communication within AEC teams. The literature further indicates that the main research challenges in this area is associated with access to data from live projects. A pilot study by the author conducted during the autumn of 2015 showed that poor and missing communication cause many problems in the Norwegian AEC industry. Hence, a comparative method was chosen to see what (if anything) can be learned from Germany as one of the world s largest construction markets. The main objective of the current study is thus to increase knowledge about, and understanding of, communication in the design-construction interface by a comparison of different factors affecting communication, communication networks, communication channels and future needs in Norwegian and German AEC teams. The method is qualitative and based on mixed empirical material that was gathered through an extensive literature review, a study of internal documents and semi-structured, in-depth interviews. The literature review provided the foundation for the identification of general communication success factors and issues. Moreover, it allowed the identification of knowledge gaps. 20 interviews in Norway (9) and Germany (11) were undertaken. By interviewing key actors from different management levels in the project organisation, different perspectives were accounted for. A document study was conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of the six cases. Although limited to the cases investigated, the findings imply that there is a need for a better understanding of communication both in Norway and in Germany, and also suggest that there is a lack of effective communication both in the Norwegian industry and in other European countries. Additionally, the research revealed that there is a lack of knowledge and training in use and implementation of information and communication technology tools and team frameworks in both countries. The study contributes to increasing the awareness of a range of communication challenges, and thus has the potential of increasing AEC practitioners and academics understanding of communication challenges between design and construction site teams so that efficient strategies can be developed for meeting such challenges in the future. This master s thesis consists of 1) a master s thesis report that seeks to provide a meta-perspective of the academic paper, 2) the academic paper and 3) appendices. The research work carried out is published as a conference paper from the 24th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction.