International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Characterizing coordination in both loose and very tightly coupled utility reconstruction processes Olde Scholtenhuis, Léon L.; Hartmann, Timo; Dorée, André G.


Privatization of the utilities sector created a fragmented multi-client, multi-contractor system in which reconstruction works are, in fact, a constellation of multiple smaller projects. During planning stages, these projects are loosely coupled, since stakeholders limitedly align construction plans. Consequently, coordination of unresolved issues moves toward construction stages, creating very tight on-site couplings. This paper focuses on the coordination activities that balance these loose and very tight couplings in the planning and execution stages of utility reconstruction. To this end, we identified seven well-performing 'utility coordinators' and conducted ethnographic interviews to explore their work practices. To better characterize these different practices, we introduce level of involvement and moment of involvement as two dimensions for coordination within loose and tightly coupled systems. Based on this, we distinguish two dominant approaches for coordination in utility coordination practice: pro-active involvement in early planning stages, and reactive approaches during execution stages. Findings complement to literature by providing dimensions for coordination of loosely coupled systems. Consecutive research efforts should aim at validating these findings and at identifying contextual factors that drive various distinctive coordination approaches.

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