Monday, 10 November 2008

Research Institute for the Built Environment

We established the Research Institute for the Built Environment as an alternative face for the School of Construction Management and Engineering, in order to help us to present our work to audience who might not usually look in our direction. The RIBE is becoming a forum for different kinds of work that take us into new directions and involvement with people we might not previously have come across. Jennifer Whyte, a Reader in Innovation and Design in the School, has organized a seminar series under the RIBE banner, in which external speakers are invited to address an audience of researchers, predominantly from the Innovative Construction Research Centre. Usually, we would get a paper from the speaker a week in advance of the event, and one of our colleagues will lead the discussion. Today, Prof Dick Boland was with us from the Department of Information Systems, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It is always fascinating to go into some depth in a discussion, and particularly so when someone whose research has not been in construction turns their attention to the construction sector. Dick has done some very interesting work on the new building for his School that was designed by Frank Gehry. Although his background is in accounting, his research now emphasizes interpretive studies of how individuals design and use information systems. The way that he had applied this to an in-depth case study of a construction project was fascinating, but I won't write too much about it, because I just noticed on the draft paper that we were discussing was the text "please do not cite or circulate"! It was a draft, after all. Suffice to say, there were about 20 of us, most from SCME but some from the Informatics Research Centre, and we learned a lot by thinking about things from a very different perspective to usual. This is the great thing about these seminars.

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