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Conference Paper


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Construction engineering, Philosophy,

Publication Details

PROCEEDINGS OF ARCOM Doctoral Workshop Research Methodology

09th March 2018 Room 446 Bolton Street Campus

Dublin Institute of Technology

Editor Professor Lloyd Scott



Editorial Welcome to this special doctoral workshop on Research Methodology which forms part of what is now a well-established support mechanism for researchers in the discipline of the Built Environment and more particularly construction management. The ARCOM doctoral series, around now for some seventeen years, has addressed many of the diverse research areas that PhD researchers in the discipline have chosen to focus on in their doctoral journey. This doctoral workshop has as an aim to offer an opportunity to explore and share research and the theoretical underpinnings facing PhD researchers within the construction and engineering sectors where the focus is on not just the topics of research but on the research approach underpinning that work. This workshop provides the opportunity for AEC researchers to come together in an environment where support for their approach to their research enquiry is offered by way of creating the correct conditions to share and discuss their journey. There is evidence to suggest there are many PhD students who would benefit from an environment where they can share their research phenomenon and this workshop session will allow for discourse and interaction to enable ‘learning to take place’ together. In these proceedings are the seven final papers selected from some fourteen abstracts presented for review. It is important to recognize that the papers selected offer the opportunity for participants to learn from each other but also learn from the guidance of academics in the community who have a depth of knowledge around different methodological approaches. The process of selection for the workshop, while closely aligned with the ARCOM conference proceedings, is such that it is aimed at selecting papers within the scope of the topic but very much directed to allowing doctoral researchers' the opportunity to present work in progress where formative and developmental review can be offered through a constructive support mechanism. The context of each paper is diverse which has added to the richness of this edition of the doctoral workshop series. All papers have been peer reviewed and each author has had the opportunity to receive feedback and update/ improve their paper. Alqatawneh’s paper research through design as an approach to investigate design fiction insights and sees focuses on design fiction (DF) as an approach to speculation about the future using a combination of prototyping and storytelling, a type of scenario story telling if you like. They unpack the notion of DF through a link to its five criteria and principles, bringing together the notion of design - the capacity to imagine and make concrete products not yet in existence, and services for everyday life. This research employs research through design approach to investigate the functionality of fiction in design. Further, to explain the notion of design fiction and arising from using fiction in both design practice and design research the author defends the use of this methodology. Alqatawneh argues that the outcome knowledge is utilised to adapt and present fictional objects that suggest pathways to possible futures and sues the example of Self-Driving Vehicles to exemplify this.-.The author argues that DF offers the potential to consider far-reaching questions concerning the consequences of technological development while drawing attention to the social aspects and implications of techno-scientific solutions. Colley and Scott address the philosophical positioning of functional contextualism as an approach to research conflict of interest in the real estate sector in Ireland. In examining the research question of good practice for managing conflict of interest in the real estate valuation process within Ireland a number of research methodologies were engaged with and considered. The author’s proffer that once a review of literature in the field has been accomplished a central question arises for the researcher, that of a philosophical position so that the research can be addressed in what they suggest is the ‘correct way’. They offer an overall pragmatic approach to the central issues of the formation of an individual’s ethical viewpoint and behaviours, the nature of the ethical challenges faced within the real estate 3 valuation process and the possible frameworks that may influence an individual’s behaviour going forward. Within the pragmatic realm they argue for a more focused lens of Functional Contextualism. Functional contextualists they suggest seeks to predict and influence events using empirically-based concepts and rules and this they contend addresses the research question suitably. Emphasis is placed on highlighting the areas of the approach that fit and also those that require omission due to their lack of suitability to the subject under investigation. Overall they make the case for using the most appropriate methodological position through correct grounding with research methods that allow the researcher to progress without ‘conflict’. Kelly in his paper addressing the impact of human cogitative behaviour and tacit judgement on the development and accuracy of cost estimates for pharmaceutical projects in Ireland and makes the strong case for researching this topic through the lens of ‘more thoughtful research design’. He contends that ‘more thoughtful research design’ would get to the real reasons for cost overruns rather than using the convenient ‘default responses’ that continuously point in the wrong direction. He makes the case for a ‘paradigm shift’ towards the general use of the newer non-traditional types of building project contract price forecasting models and there is evidence that this has not been generally achieved. In considering his roadmap through the research topic he suggests the challenge with this proposed research is the adoption and justification of the research methodology. He argues for mixed-method research, methods that require positivist and interpretevist methods as well as multi-paradigm and multi-strategy approaches. The challenges, he contends, include the many different conflicts. For example how the researcher sees the world and the epistemological commitments needed which may cause confusion with the stated committed rules the research might follow and that will impact on the use of both positivism and interpretivism paradigms as well as qualitative and quantitative information. Mdaanayka and Egbu in their paper explore innovative solutions in consideration of exploring the possibilities for improving the utilisation of digital technologies via integrating BIM, Big Data Analytics and Internet of things (together aka BBI )which has the potential to give organisations the long awaited competitive advantage. The study follows a mixed methodological approach which leads to investigate the critical factors that impact on effective implementation and exploitation of BBI for competitive advantage and thereby develop a strategic framework for improved understanding of such critical factors at play. They argue for mixed methods based on epistemological, ontological and axiological perspectives. The factors associated with the research, they argue, fall in to four main themes inter alia; organisational size, culture, structure and skills-knowledge-training needs. The latter will be demonstrated as a separate skill-knowledge-Inventory (SKI). Their philosophical stance is a combination of interpretivist and positivist. They argue for an approach that holds a mixture of inductive and deductive means in different stages as the study starts from literature review to develop the strategic framework consisting of critical factors. Their data collection methods in this study will be the use of semi-structured interviews in pilot study phase and questionnaire surveys in the main study phase. Focus group approach is intended to be employed to validate the framework and SKI. They make the case for mixed methods as the multidimensional constructs/ variable implications demand such methods. O’Cleirigh deals with research within the construction industry which is primarily based on qualitative and quantitative methods but has the potential to include studies that combine both methodologies. The research review considers and outlines the various methods and the differing views of the purists from both traditions, while re-examines the ‘war’ between them 4

and thus proffers the arguments for and against using mixed-methods. O’Cleirigh also demonstrates that some commonalities and a relationship exist between quantitative and qualitative approaches to social science research and that his research explores that relationship in context to the construction industry. The author resolves to position mixed methods as a bridge between traditional qualitative and quantitative research. Discussion, he commends, centre on implications arising from the observation that, models upon which qualitative and quantitative methods are based, have differing philosophical views of real world research and consequently differing views of the research subject. O’Cleirigh strongly argues this positioning will aid advancement of industry knowledge by adapting methods used in academia through providing a robust framework, for construction managers, for designing and undertaking mixed methods research. He makes the point that mixed methods research will become increasingly successful as more construction managers study, use and spread the underpinning philosophy. Opiya and Chan, address the topic of the need for affordable housing and make the point that it has in recent times become a prominent policy issue for countries across the world. Among various challenges to affordable housing sector is the failure of supply to keep up with this growing demand. Consequently, they argue it is unsurprising to find a wealth of studies that focus on supply-side concerns of accommodating increasing demand for affordable housing. Through their research they have found studies tended to emphasize the role providers such as developers, contractors and government institutions can play to improve capacity and capability in the production of affordable housing. The point they do make, because of such emphasis has meant the relative neglect on the demand side. In their review, consideration of the problem of ‘demand’ to identify fresh perspectives on understanding the challenges associated with affordable housing is called for. They make the case for opening the complexities of studying ‘demand’ by researching a range of disciplines. The case for inter- disciplinary research aimed to understand a complex problem. They make the point that from an economic perspective, ‘demand’ is often framed in quantitative terms where balancing supply and demand results from rational, technological choices made by individual actors in the marketplace. They go on to make the point that a linear approach to ‘demand’ runs counter to a sociological understanding, where the realization is produced by complexes of social practices. They exemplify this making reference to a linguistic turn, the etymology of ‘demand’ stems from the Latin phrase de mandare, which means ‘to formally order’. They proffer from this ‘demand’ is not simply defined by exogenous forces of the market, but also raises questions as to how society is brought to order. Relating this position to the context of affordable housing, they make the case understanding ‘demand’ also raises the need to examine ways in which vulnerable segments of society are excluded from formally ordering their requirements. In this review, we will reflect on various perspectives of ‘demand’ to raise questions about power relations and the problem of building a more inclusive society through housing. While the methodological approach is partly addressed in the paper the authors argue for a methodology that can be adaptable to deal with the complexity that surrounds the various perspectives of ‘demand’. Abiodun and Egbu in their paper, Implementation of building information modelling (BIM) on construction projects, is increasing gaining global acceptance as government from various countries are becoming the driving force for its adoption. The purpose of this paper is to present the research methodology and method to be adopted for this research. They present the aim and the objectives of the research, a set of research questions and then propose an approach to move towards methodological positioning. The paper discussed the various 5

research paradigms and philosophical positions available to all researcher and position the research on one considered to be most suitable to achieve the stated aim and objectives of the study. The argument around their justification is well made and the paper further discussed the various research approaches, methods and strategies available. In each case, a position was adopted for the research and attempts were made to justify the position adopted. Abiodun and Egbu conclude by proposing a research design method to be followed that allows the researcher achieve the research aim and objectives but that is fit for purpose. The authors of the papers are to be commended for taking the courageous step in sharing their methodological and philosophical positioning, particularly as novice researchers it can be daunting to ‘put on work out there’. It is a pleasure to be associated with this important aspect of the work of ARCOM and the continued support for this type of ‘scaffolded experience’ for the novice researchers, as they make their own personal research journey, should be supported into the future! Finally, there is a need to address the gaps in methodological approach and allow researchers flourish and blossom by allowing them the opportunity to experiment within their chosen research domain.

"It is often necessary to take a decision on the basis of knowledge sufficient for action, but insufficient to satisfy the intellect." Attributed to Kant 1724 - 1804

Professor Lloyd Scott, 09th March 2018