Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr Dina Koutsikouri


Individual and collective success: the social dynamics of multidisciplinary design teamwork

Project Detail

Individual and collective success: the social dynamics of multidisciplinary design teamwork


Buro Happold Engineers ltd


Professor Simon Austin
Professor Andrew Dainty

Dr Mike Cook
Dr Steven Yeomans

Director of Research:
Professor Dino Bouchlaghem

Research Period

2004 - 2008

Individual and collective success: the social dynamics of multidisciplinary design teamwork


For the past five years Buro Happold has grown rapidly. This has meant more people, more technology, more clients, more knowledge, more paper and a need for smarter work spaces. The challenge is to find better ways of working together and creating a culture that enables this. Success of construction projects is increasingly dependent upon collaboration between all the members of a project team, which is inextricably linked to the ability to deliver what the client requires. In turn, these collaborative relationships are increasingly dependent upon technology, knowledge sharing, workspace design and people’s willingness to participate in all this.

Through the development of a Design and Technology and Design board Buro Happold has taken a first step to make collaboration, knowledge, space and customer satisfaction strategic priorities. This complements the executive board whose main focus will be on internal processes while still keeping focus on the external.


  • Business and Development
  • People and Skills
  • Work Profile
  • Operations and Project planning
  • Risk Management
  • Finance & Profitability


  • Customer Feedback,
  • Understanding Clients Need
  • Brand, Markets, Relationships
  • Managing Expectations,
  • Project Plans


  • Deliverables, documentation
  • Technology Tools & Communication
  • Quality of Solution, Technology
  • Innovation and Integration
  • Knowledge and Skills
  • Collaboration and Cross-disciplinary working
  • Addressing Project Needs

Aims and Objectives

The purpose of this project is to investigate how project work at Buro Happold can become even more efficient, productive and enjoyable across the barriers of time and space.

The aim of the research project is to implement the aims of the Design and Technology Board for the whole organisation. This will be achieved through the attainment of the following seven objectives:

To improve knowledge capture throughout the project cycle.
2. To improve knowledge sharing trough team collaboration.
3. To identify the successful work practices/ways of collaborating and develop these further.
4. To develop strategies for knowledge sharing and knowledge creation through promoting design workshops, encouraging project presentations and after-action reviews.
5. To appropriately use technology such as the intranet to improve collaboration and encourage knowledge sharing.

6. To meet client needs through effective communication (setting appropriate expectations with the client, managing customer expectations from the start).

7. To ensure that the workplace actually works in terms of improving each individuals experience of being at the office.

Method and Current Status

To achieve sufficient depth in the study the action research will be applied. This means that the initial questions are likely to change throughout the project. This allows for flexibility and promotes gradual refinement of what needs to be studied. Ultimately the purpose with action research is to learn from experience and apply that learning to bringing about change. From this perspective the following is key:

  • Pilot group: the research will start in a pilot group of 60 staff in the London office before attempting larger group such as the London office as a whole (250) and the practice (800)
  • Ethnography: ethnographic methods will be critical in the first part of the research. This involves observing people in their natural habitat, the workplace and getting a rich picture of what goes on by spending time with people and watching what they do.
  • Interviews: semi-structured interviews with a large number staff at various levels and number of occasions in order to explore connections and disconnections in project work.
  • Trial & testing: using the newly refurbished office as a test environment for changes in work practice.

Koutsikouri, D., Austin, S.A. And Dainty, A.R.J. (2008). Critical success factors in collaborative multi-disciplinary design projects, Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 6(3), 2008, pp 198-226, ISSN: 1726-0531.

Koutsikouri, D., Austin, S.A., and Dainty, A.R.J. (2006). Critical success factors for multidisciplinary engineering projects. IN: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual ARCOM Conference, Birmingham, UK, September 2006, pp 219-228.

Koutsikouri, D., Austin, S.A., and Dainty, A.R.J. (2006). Critical success factors (CSFs) in a multidisciplinary engineering practice. IN: Songer, A., Chinowsky, P., and Carrillo, P.M. (eds). Proceedings of the ASCE/CIB 2nd Speciality Conference in Leadership and Management in Construction, Grand Bahama Island, May 2006, pp. 373-380.



Contact us

+44 (0)1509 222623

The Centre Administrator
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

Join us on Linkedin