Digital infrastructure, management practices and the design organization

Speaker: Jennifer Whyte
Title: Digital infrastructure, management practices and the design organization
Abstract: Digital information presents new challenges to managing and organizing in the pluralistic, multi-firm contexts in which buildings and infrastructure are designed. The literatures on complex organizations indicate paradoxical requirements for tight coupling between tasks to deal with their interdependencies; and loose coupling to deal with the exceptions arising in day-to-day work. This talk draws on research on managing and organizing to consider digitally-enabled design work on a tightly constrained infrastructure project. The engineering consultant's team on this major station refurbishment has been pioneering model-centric ways of working. The empirical research was qualitative in nature and involved spending time with the design team, talking informally to stakeholders about the project and also conducting formal interviews. The research collaboration focused on understanding the design team’s experience and learning through using new digital tools; and it also sought to uncover processes and systems to improve effective use of these tools. By increasing the coupling between the various disciplines involved in design, the new digital tools and processes implied wider organizational changes across firm boundaries. They also challenge institutionalised understandings of process. The talk concludes by discussing potential future scenarios for their use on projects.

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