Disciplines and Professions Within the Built Environment
As Adam Smith predicted, the enormous expansion of economic activity in the 18th and 19th centuries encouraged a tendency towards increasing specialization, and with the rise of technology and occupational expertise, many groups began to claim professional status: architects, engineers and surveyors them. This fragmentation of disciplines within construction and real estate provided a degree of efficiency in the performance of the various tasks. However, by the second-half of the 20th century, the UK industry was plagued by conflict and characterised by a win-lose mentality, thereby becoming increasingly ineffective. Attempts to improve the management and co-ordination of projects had only a marginal impact on performance.
As a result several recent reports consistently and heavily criticised the industry as being unable to satisfy its clients, citing the relatively divisive nature of the construction industry in the UK when compared to Japan, USA and other European countries (Collier et al., 1991). A recurring conclusion was the need for greater collaboration amongst professionals. Attempts to encourage an interdisciplinary approach appeared to gather momentum through reports published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Burton, 1992), the Construction Industry Council (Andrews & Derbyshire, 1993), Latham (1994) and conferences at the University of Cambridge (1991) and the University of Central England (1995).
In parallel, the significant growth in the use of partnering or alliancing systems of procurement also created a focus on: the identification of mutual objectives; robust problem resolution techniques; and systems to monitor continuous improvement in performance (Bennett & Jayes, 1998). All three would require substantially improved levels of co-operation between disciplines and project participants if partnering approaches were to be successfully implemented (Wood, 2005).