Organising and Managing boundaries A structurational view of collaboration with Building Information Modelling (BIM)


The construction industry is currently undergoing digital transformation due to emerging technologies. Hence new forms of organisation are needed. Collaborating with Building Information Modelling (BIM) is complex and challenges the management of projects. The ubiquitous digital information sharing among multi-disciplinary actors in BIM-based projects, activates dense inter-organisational processes. This study offers insights into collaboration with BIM, through the theoretical lens of boundaries. By analysing two projects of BIM-based collaboration in the Netherlands, the interplay between structure and agency of collaboration was discussed. The various artefacts of BIM, as boundary objects were interpreted in multiple ways by different communities of practice and this resulted in poor communication and consequently poor collaboration. The findings challenge the prevalent view of BIM as a software artefact and showed that this view only partially supports collaboration. Additionally, a structurational view (enabled by communication, conflict management, negotiation, and teamwork) as opposed to a structural view of collaboration (e.g. BIM as a software) can fully support the implementation of digital innovations. Finally, the paper revealed a ‘tactical gap’ in the implementation of digital between strategic and operational decision-making needs fine-tuning to ensure better collaboration in projects where digital innovations are adopted. The study concludes with propositions for supporting organisation of teams through integration of activities and the management of BIM-based collaboration in projects beyond merely structural and technological approaches, which dominate the field but from a structurational view instead.

In International Journal of Project Management) (IJPM)
Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki
Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki
Associate Professor in Management of Engineering Projects

Researcher and consultant at the intersection of management and digital economy