Organising and Managing boundaries: A structurational view of collaboration with Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Eleni Papadonikolaki*, Clarine van Oel, Michail Kagioglou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


The construction industry is currently undergoing digital transformation due to emerging technologies. Hence new forms of organisation are needed. Collaborating with Building Information Modelling (BIM) is complex and challenges the management of projects. The ubiquitous digital information sharing among multi-disciplinary actors in BIM-based projects, activates dense inter-organisational processes. This study offers insights into collaboration with BIM, through the theoretical lens of boundaries. By analysing two projects of BIM-based collaboration in the Netherlands, the interplay between structure and agency of collaboration was discussed. The various artefacts of BIM, as boundary objects were interpreted in multiple ways by different communities of practice and this resulted in poor communication and consequently poor collaboration. The findings challenge the prevalent view of BIM as a software artefact and showed that this view only partially supports collaboration. Additionally, a structurational view (enabled by communication, conflict management, negotiation, and teamwork) as opposed to a structural view of collaboration (e.g. BIM as a software) can fully support the implementation of digital innovations. Finally, the paper revealed a ‘tactical gap’ in the implementation of digital between strategic and operational decision-making needs fine-tuning to ensure better collaboration in projects where digital innovations are adopted. The study concludes with propositions for supporting organisation of teams through integration of activities and the management of BIM-based collaboration in projects beyond merely structural and technological approaches, which dominate the field but from a structurational view instead.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-394
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Boundary theory
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Collaboration
  • Digital
  • Structuration


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