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34rd Annual Conference – Cambridge, UK
3-5 September 2018

Track 4: Integration and Collaboration for a Sustainable Built Environment

Lead: Esra Kurul, Oxford Brookes University (ekurul@brookes.ac.uk)

Current challenges, which emerged and are likely to emerge as a direct result of Climate Change and societal changes such as an ageing population, are increasingly complex. The complex and ambiguous nature of these problems means that expertise from multiple disciplines is needed to address them (Siedlok and Hibbert, 2014) if we are to deliver truly sustainable built environments, which provide equal opportunities to every part of the societies we serve. Solutions lie in a Systems Thinking-inspired, inter-disciplinary approach to teaching, research, learning and practice, and a high level of agility to be able to respond to the changing nature of these challenges by harnessing the disciplinary knowledge and expertise, which flourishes thanks to the fragmentation of the industry. This domain is not necessarily a ‘welcoming place to build a [...] career’ (Nature, 2015) because reconciling the dilemma between the need to work across disciplinary boundaries while deepening knowledge and expertise within the disciplinary silos is challenging.

The built environment (BE) sectors have traditionally been discipline-focussed in terms of teaching, research, learning and practice. Specialisation is considered to be necessary for economic efficiency, competitive advantage and growth. However, it is necessary to work in a multi-disciplinary environment to deliver even mainstream projects. In the main, these interactions are by definition facilitated through transient contractual arrangements, and are typically confined to project level integration. At times, they lead to poor project performance. Exceptions have emerged in recent years in the form of companies that adopt an integrated and solutions driven in-house approach. They complement integrated project delivery (IPD) solutions to deliver major programmes of work, e.g. CrossRail. However, key questions remain.

This track aims to provide answers to these key questions. Siedlok and Hibbert’s (2014) modes of interdisciplinary integration, i.e. sourcing, consolidating, synergizing and configuring, and Cohen and Levinthal’s (1990) absorptive capacity concept are the starting points. Among others, it is anticipated that contributions in this track will focus on the following questions with specific reference to delivering a truly sustainable built environment:


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