Academic journal article Management Revue

Dynamics of a Facilitator's Role: Insights from the Danish Construction Industry **

Academic journal article Management Revue

Dynamics of a Facilitator's Role: Insights from the Danish Construction Industry **

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper addresses the role of a facilitator in achieving project goals in business. A facilitator is widely used in business practice to help processes or projects evolve under various conditions. We use the construction industry as a stepping stone to learning more about facilitation, as a facilitator is often used in construction projects (Christiansson, Sorensen, Rodtness, Abrahamsen, Riernnann, & Alsdorf, 2008; Storvang & Clarke, 2014). In the construction industry, many stakeholders (architects, engineers, consultants, builders, etc.) are often involved in carrying out-and sometimes even developing-a number of tasks. The various stakeholders might have worked together on previous projects, but this is not necessarily the case. Just as a building's intended use can vary from project to project, the aims, interests, resources and competences of individual stakeholders involved in a construction project can also vary. Aligning all these factors can be a challenge, and failure to do so could put a project at risk of moving slowly or even stalling (Corsaro & Snehota, 2011). To ensure projects advance properly, it is common to facilitate the process. Facilitation is a means to ensuring that all aspects of a project are investigated, defined, described, developed and delivered. In the facilitation process, alignment is essential (Guzman, 2013). We define alignment in accordance with Corsaro and Snehota (2011), who claim that actors may hold different understandings of what constitutes "a problem" and "a solution". Actors can therefore be misaligned or position themselves according to their own perception of a problem and/or its solution. The facilitator's task is to achieve alignment in such a manner that the project can proceed and be finalised. As content and processes vary among construction projects, so do the requirements for facilitation. In turn, these variations require different competences from the stakeholder who is acting as the facilitator. Even so, it has been demonstrated that facilitation of construction projects is beneficial (Shen, Ti, Chung, & Hui, 2003; Thomson, Kaka, Pronk, & Alalouch, 2012; Thomson, Kaka, Pronk, & Alalouch, 2010).

This paper seeks to explore how different contingencies influence the facilitator's role and to develop a framework that can be used to analyse the different tasks and competences needed in the role of facilitator. The paper is organised into five sections. The first section includes a discussion of the contingencies related to the states around which construction projects evolve and the implications for facilitation. Next, a methodology section reveals the reason for the selection of the three cases. Three cases are presented: an extension to an existing single-family house, guest houses for an exhibition and conference complex and an office-building complex. A discussion of the three cases follows, succeeded by conclusions and implications.

Contingencies in construction projects, as seen from an interaction perspective

Construction projects are developed under certain contingencies; in addition to having different uses, they also vary in terms of content, processes and stakeholders (Eccles 1981). The view of the different construction projects is therefore based on a contingency approach (Barney 1985). In order to enable progress in construction projects and come to a successful end, alignment is necessary. The goals, functions, timing, identities, roles, processes and power relations of the stakeholders must be taken into account (Guzman, 2013). As such alignment is not necessarily reached by itself, facilitation of the process becomes a necessary course of action. Still, construction projects vary not only with regard to their contingencies but also as to which issues are at stake at different points in time. At a basic level, building a construction can be said to include a number of phases (Clausen, 2002; Storvang, 2012). …

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