Constructing a sense of time in projects: implications of a Bergsonian view of time

Paul W Chan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Construction management researchers have long been concerned with explaining time performance in projects. Many have simply relied on the quantitative notion of 'clock' time to explain how the actions of participants, as rational purposive beings, contribute to the time performance of projects. In this article, the central argument that the emphasis of managerial methods of time management in construction has failed to account for the full spectrum of time is put forward. By researching project time performance as an objectified goal, construction management researchers have not fully imagined the qualitative possibilities of individual time scales (or temporal perspectives) in organisations. Drawing on the theory of time by French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and empirical examples from an ongoing ethnographic study of infrastructure development projects in an international airport (MyAirport), it is argued that time cannot be merely represented as a homogeneous numerical order. Rather, researchers must open up potential questions about the heterogeneity of the qualitative experiences of time in (organisational) life, which has hitherto been taken-for-granted in the field of construction management. Implications of the more plural perspectives of time are also discussed, in relation to space (context), strategy (future-orientation), and sense-making (connecting temporal perspectives).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the twenty-eighth annual ARCOM conference, Edinburgh. Association of Researchers in Construction Management. 3-5 September 2012.
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2012
    EventAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management -
    Duration: 1 Jan 1824 → …


    ConferenceAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
    Period1/01/24 → …
    Internet address


    • Henri Bergson, sensemaking, temporality, time


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