The intelligent client: learning to govern through numbers at Heathrow

Vine, Rebecca (2018) The intelligent client: learning to govern through numbers at Heathrow. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the call for reform in the governance of risk and control within major construction programmes in the UK. Over the next 8 years, Construction 2025 describes aspirations for major improvements in productivity, cost efficiency and delivery lead times. However, the pathway to reform remains unclear. Major infrastructure projects have a history of dissonance where competing value systems can create friction. However, the productive friction from multiple evaluative perspectives can also be a fundamental part of resolving emergent and perplexing problems. Construction 2025 highlights the need to develop stronger delivery relationships with an emphasis on the early engagement of suppliers and “fixing” the front-end of projects through more rigorous procurement strategies. It also notes that “much” of the waste in construction is fundamentally linked to the treatment of risk. Intelligent Clients, such as Heathrow, have been identified as exemplars in developing superior models of risk governance that work “with” suppliers to articulate the nature of value and evaluative purpose (CE, 2009). This thesis is a study of the composition and evolution of control in the construction of Terminal 5 (T5) and the more recent Terminal 2 (T2) at Heathrow.

Terminal 5 is considered a landmark case that challenged traditional self-seeking opportunism with a lean partnering philosophy delivered through integrated teams. A year later Terminal 2 moved away from the partnering with suppliers, engaging a 3rd party integrator managed through an intelligent control system. At the time this raised concerns that T2 represented a relinquishing of the project management capability developed on T5 and a weaker model of integration. However, T2 was a success. This thesis draws on extensive project-based technical data, interviews with industry experts and policy reports to build a comparative picture of the calculative infrastructures. Temporal bracketing is used to trace the patterns of development into “phases of control” as a sequence of evaluative orders. Both cases move the conception of control beyond directive forms of control “over” resources to consider the nature of social integration and the complexity of enrolling allied interests. The findings explore a variety of innovative calculative technologies that translated tensions into productive friction. In both cases Heathrow did not fix the front-end. Instead an adaptive calculative infrastructure mediated collective deliberation, critical inquiry and emergent learning. These findings suggest that the current reform discussion would benefit from more explicit consideration of the importance of architectures of control in making projects valuable, governing risk and shaping conduct towards enterprise and discovery.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Accounting and Finance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD0028 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9715 Construction industry
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 16:09
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2019 10:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/75875

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