Building Knowledge — Developing a Grounded Theory of Knowledge Management for Construction


  • Brian Graham
  • Ken Thomas


Construction, constructivism, grounded theory, knowledge management, mixed methods


As part of an on‑going doctoral study, a constructivist approach to grounded theory is being used to develop an integrated model of knowledge management (KM) for the leading Irish construction organisations. Using multiple data collection methods; employees in a number of these organisations have participated, from recent graduates through to senior managers. While the need to effectively manage knowledge within large construction organisations is well recognised, a gap exists between the theory of KM and its implementation in practice. This paper considers the research in terms of its philosophical position, the use of grounded theory and the research methods utilised, from theoretical and practical perspectives. Progress in the study thus far is presented and future directions considered in achieving theoretical saturation and a well developed model. It is anticipated that the study will contribute to the field of construction management where further empirical research into KM is required. Much previous research in the area of KM in construction has focussed solely on technological, cultural or strategic issues in the development of KM models. The developed integrated model will form the basis of education and guidance resources on KM for the leading Irish construction organisations. As a traditional and pragmatic industry, the rationale for using grounded theory is provided from the viewpoint that it requires researchers to focus upon developing theory which produces explanations that are recognisable to the subjects of the research. In order to ensure the credibility of the developed model, it will be evaluated by industry as part of a pilot KM education programme, with further refinement if necessary.



1 Nov 2008