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Boyd, D and Xiao, H (2010) Understanding Chinese and British Construction: a problem of metaphors. In: Egbu, C (Ed.), Proceedings 26th Annual ARCOM Conference, 6-8 September 2010, Leeds, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol. 1, 371–80.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: communication; practice; metaphor; situated learning
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9552390-4-5
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2010-0371-0380_Boys_and_Xiao.pdf
  • Abstract:
    Globalization means that more and more construction projects involve participants from different countries or different cultural backgrounds. This challenges previous approaches and is creating a new context for the industry. Besides the obvious language barrier, people from different cultural backgrounds may also have different faiths, assumptions and behaviour norms which can and do cause conflicts. This paper considers the way we understand construction in different countries exploring the issue of the use of metaphors. Metaphors not only are part of our language for communication, but also form much of the bases of our thinking and consequently our action. They are the way we relate experience and connect to new situations. There is a tendency to understand construction in different situations superficially by interpreting activities from one’s own cultural perspective. The deeper operation however cannot be understood in these terms as perception, appreciations and behaviours are set within different metaphorical frames. This will be demonstrated from interviews in China and Britain where practitioners narrate their experience of their work. It is argued that Chinese and British construction practitioners have similar metaphorical frames. The paper discusses one such frame that of seeing ‘project as battles’ which operates differently in each culture. It is concluded that this new area of construction management research may provide more effective communications and deeper understanding of cross culturally situated projects.