Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Proceedings of ICERI2012 Conference
19th-21st November 2012, Madrid, Spain


The built environment discipline or inter-discipline is a relatively new field in academic research. Its subject matter however is based on the traditional disciplines of the construction and property industries. Determining your ontological position and epistemological approach based on the researchparadigm of one of these fields’ may not provide an adequate solution to your research objectives.This paper outlines that framing your research within the broader confines of the built environment; drawing from related fields in an integrated manner may provide a more successful outcome.Arguments whether the built environment is an academic discipline or even the range of subjects thatmake up the discipline, although worthwhile, do not provide any meaningful insight into the issues andneeds of society that are served by the practice orientated fields that constitute the inter-discipline. A more valuable argument is whether built environment knowledge produced in academic circles is transferable to the practitioners providing services within its borders and ultimately how this knowledge contributes to the real issues and needs of society. This paper outlines a number of eminent authors that state a disconnect exists between academic research and fulfilling the needs of construction and property industries. The alleged gap between research and practice maybe a result of the prevalent positivist paradigm which exists in academia or/and the positivist application of tools in a practical context. In the built environment many innovative solutions are based on knowledge and experience acquired over many years of practice based application. Externalising this tacit knowledge should be the goal of academics and practitioners, thus filling in the gaps and making explicit what were originally hidden. This paper outlines that knowledge in the built environment would be etter served by an approach that combines the strengths of both a positivist and interpretist approach, giving rise to a plural research perspective.