Governing the common good: Collective action in institutional maintenance

Stefan Christoffer Gottlieb*, Christian Koch, Nicolaj Frederiksen, Peter Vogelius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

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This paper deals with the governance of a particular common good in the Danish construction industry popularly referred to as ‘the technical knowledge commons.' The technical knowledge commons encompass the sum of practical experiences, professional literature, techniques and tested routines in different technical areas that professionals are expected to be familiar with. Due to its role in institutionalizing conceptions of proper conduct and professional practice, the technical knowledge commons have been met by industry criticism, being seen as ‘backdoor’ regulation that stifles innovation and constitutes a barrier to the globalization of labour and building materials. We illustrate how the technical knowledge commons is singled out as a battleground for struggles to redefine the governance of the industry. Using the concepts of institutional interlocks and meta-routines, it is analysed how actors are connected to the knowledge commons and contribute to a distributed maintenance of contested institutionalized practices. On this basis, we discuss how existing interlocks have been challenged and lost legitimacy in the face of the industry's deregulation and globalization, and how a new form of collective agency has arisen as professional associations have rallied in an attempt to establish new and legitimate governance structures to maintain the common good.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 36th Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsLloyd Scott, Christopher J. Neilson
PublisherAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
Publication date2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9955463-3-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event36th Annual Conference on Association of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2020 - Virtual, Online, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sep 20208 Sep 2020


Conference36th Annual Conference on Association of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityVirtual, Online


  • Collective action
  • Deregulation
  • Interlocks
  • Knowledge commons
  • Routines


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