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Success requires faith and commitment -2

Writing from a self-consciously critical perspective, Green (1999) has elsewhere equated the arguments in support of partnering with corporatist propaganda. Certainly, the supporting arguments draw heavily from the lexicon of enterprise culture. The ultimate argument as mobilised by sources such as Partnering in the Team rests with mystical appeals to the ‘customer’ and the imperatives of the global market. The all-pervading nature of the enterprise culture has rendered such ideas unchallengeable. The doctrines of customer-responsiveness and continuous improvement must seemingly be accepted on faith rather than on rational argument.
Following on from the above, there would seem to be an uncanny resemblance between the factors necessary for the successful implementation of partnering and those which were described previously in the case of BPR. Both depend upon senior management making an ‘unwavering’ commitment to cultural change. Both also require ‘champions’ who are willing to ride roughshod over any criticism. In the circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that operatives within the construction sector continue to display ‘adversarial attitudes’. The continuous bombardment with mechanistic improvement recipes would probably try the patience of a saint. An obligation to sign up for BPR very quickly morphs into a necessity to demonstrate an unwavering commitment in favour of partnering. Fortunately, for the sanity of all involved, the shift from BPR to partnering is a shift in emphasis rather than a dramatic shift in direction. As observed previously, machine and team metaphors are often mobilised within the same discourse without any obvious signs of conflict. The combination is undoubtedly much easier if the underpinning model of teamwork is based on compliance. Aficionados of football may recall the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1980s being compared with a ‘well-oiled machine’. Teamwork and machine efficiency are often mutually constituted in football and con-struction alike.

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