Is there “I” in “We”? Exploring dilemmas of individualism-collectivism in framing intentionality and intentional actions in the context of construction work

Farhad Eizak Shiri, Paul W. Chan, Margaret Emsley

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Abstract

The constitution of human intention is not confined to the realm of the individual. We do not act alone, we share our knowledge and co-operate with each other. This raises interesting issues regarding the possibility of collective. However, this issue is subject to great controversy in philosophy of mind and cognitive sciences since many philosophers believe that individual intentions alone cannot explain collective actions (see Searle 1999; Bratman 1987; Tuomela 2005). To explore these philosophical dilemmas, this article draws on empirical examples from a current study into delay in construction industry. The problem of cost overruns and time overruns in projects is a longstanding one e.g. the Channel Tunnel and the Scottish Parliament. Recent scholars, like Flyvbjerg (2009), argue that these failures are not due to the systems and processes but stakeholders involved in the projects. They state that stakeholders intentionally make changes in the project plan and deceive others in order to achieve their wicked goals: to secure their job; to increase the likelihood of revenues and profits; to gain satisfaction; and to get larger budgets for the cities. Flyvbjerg coined the phrase “strategic misrepresentation” to explain these sorts of behaviours. This issue is directly related to the issue of “lying”. However, in this article, we explore the dilemmas of intentionality, specifically reconciling I- and we-intentions, by re-examining the work of Flyvbjerg. It is clear to us that strategic misrepresentation is an over-simplification because it ignores the interplay between the convergences, divergences, conflicts, and connections between I-intentions and we-intentions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
EventCollective Intentionality VIII - University of Manchester
Duration: 28 Aug 201231 Aug 2012

Conference

ConferenceCollective Intentionality VIII
CityUniversity of Manchester
Period28/08/1231/08/12

Keywords

  • inidividual - collective - intentionality - construction

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