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Visual representations and knowledge‐intensive work: The case of architect work

Alexander Styhre (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Division of Operations Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)
Pernilla Gluch (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Division of Construction Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)

VINE

ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 19 June 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look into the knowledge‐intensive work that entangles the use of various visual representations such as drawings, CAD images, and scale models. Rather than assuming that knowledge is exclusively residing in the human cognitive capacities, most knowledge‐intensive work integrates a variety of perceptual skills and the use of language.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study of a Scandinavian architect bureau, including semi‐structured interviews with architects, design engineers and managers, was conducted.

Findings

The study shows that architects mobilize and use a variety of visual representations in their day‐to‐day work. Such visual representations serve a variety of roles and purposes but actually more generally enhance communication between colleagues and external stakeholders. The paper concludes that visuality and visual representations deserve a more adequate analysis in the knowledge management literature.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to an understanding of how visual representations are constitutive of knowledge and central to architect work. Rather than residing in language or being embodied, knowledge is developed through the use of a variety of tools and aids.

Keywords

Citation

Styhre, A. and Gluch, P. (2009), "Visual representations and knowledge‐intensive work: The case of architect work", VINE, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 108-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/03055720910988832

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited