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Akintola, A, Venkatachalam, S and Root, D (2020) Understanding BIM’s impact on professional work practices using activity theory. Construction Management and Economics, 38(05), 447–67.
- Type: Journal Article
- Keywords: Building information modelling; work practices; social context; technological change; collective work; activity theory;
- ISBN/ISSN: 0144-6193
- URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2018.1559338
Recent critiques of the BIM literature describe it as largely devoid of critical theoretical perspectives and theorization capable of explaining the nature of change in work practices in a holistic manner. In response, the authors argue that, from a theoretical standpoint, implementing BIM within professional work practices (as activity systems) induces their evolution through dysfunctions created within the systems and their resolution. Cases of professional organizations in South Africa that have implemented BIM within their organization and in multi-organizational projects helped to develop new theoretical insights into how professional work practices evolve using activity theory-based re-description of the data. Changes in professional work practices were analyzed sequentially within the framework, confirming theoretical propositions and revealing the dynamics between and within the interconnected system of actors, their object, tools, rules guiding work, roles they assume and the stakeholders. Essentially, the findings imply that the implementation of BIM significantly changes work practices within organizations, but gradually and over time. This supports an evolutionary, rather than a radical or revolutionary, view of BIM-induced change. This theoretical perspective could explain future dimensions of change in professional work practices involving BIM, and indeed similar work mediating tools.