Normalization of deviance in the construction industry, a managerial perspective

Conference paper


Hajikazemi, S., Ahola, T, Aaltonen, K, Aarseth, W and Andersen, B (2019). Normalization of deviance in the construction industry, a managerial perspective. EURAM 2019: Exploring the future of management. Lisbon, Portugal 26 - 28 Jun 2019
AuthorsHajikazemi, S., Ahola, T, Aaltonen, K, Aarseth, W and Andersen, B
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Organizational factors such as complexity, weakness in organizational design and capabilities, optimism bias or strategic misinterpretation are often the most important drivers behind situations where conflicts, mistakes or disasters occur. It is the specific problem of teams normalizing unacceptable behavior which makes this phenomenon potentially damaging. This phenomenon has been referred to as “Normalization of Deviance” by Vaughan (1986), based on her study of the culture of NASA prior to the Challenger disaster. In a project management context, this term can be defined as the gradual process through which unacceptable project management practices or standards have become acceptable. As this behavior is repeated without catastrophic results, it gradually becomes the social or operating norm of the project group, organization (Pinto, 2014) or even industry. In these situations, people often accommodate, explain away or normalize discrepant cues of problems, because they are part of a system, routine or culture which unintentionally reduces mindfulness. This will all together prevent the organization from anticipating a wide range of crises. This study will investigate the project management practices within the construction industry which have become an acceptable part of the system, but in hindsight lead to overall poor performance of construction projects. This study will investigate the counterproductive managerial practices which overtime become embedded into the organizational culture, the characteristics which put construction project organizations in a position to fall into the slope of normalization of deviance and the contribution of sensemaking in overcoming conditions under which organizations fall into this slope.

Year2019
Accepted author manuscript
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Open
Publication dates
Print26 Jun 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Jul 2019
Accepted20 Mar 2019
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File access level: Open

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