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BEYOND PROJECT MANAGEMENT: DEVELOPING MULTINATIONAL COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE FOR INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

G. Tse Shing Chun1, I. Eddie2

1Hong Kong College of Technology (HONG KONG)
2Southern Cross University (AUSTRALIA)
The growth of the global economy and the expansion in international ventures has led to increasing number of international construction projects across the world. Following the globalisation of world-wide economy, transnational commercial activities in HK construction sector has become too attractive for countries not to be proactive, such commercial activities often involve multinational participants with diverse cultural background. In light of this development, topics related to Western and Chinese cultural and managerial practice have attracted significant attention from both academe and industrial world. For many years, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of national and ethnic cultures and cultural differences on international construction projects.

In this proposed paper, we aim to approach such differences as opportunities for us to reflect on the cultural influence in management practice and to develop effective and harmonized project teams with multinational background. We aim to intellectualize the above phenomenon using the framework of communities of practice, the paper explores on how the members of multinational project team can learn to reflect and work within multicultural context, via their situated practice. The Concept of communities of practice was first introduced by Lave and Wenger in 1990, it is widely developed and applied in education, private and public organizations, this paper aims to apply this concept within two different levels: cultural harmonization and management practice.

This paper employs a case study methodology to investigate the concept of communities of practice, interacting with the real life practice of multinational construction project teams. A project team of an international construction corporation has been selected and studied for this purpose. The case study studies how the multicutural team members built up their awareness of differences of management practice and more importantly, how they interacted to learn within the work practice and built up a more effective working team.

While we recognize that any successful management strategy must be tailored for each organisation where it is implemented, we believe that lessons from this case study will add value to the development of future management models for multinational construction corporations in HK.