Philosophical Contradictions in FM
This chapter builds upon my earlier writing (Cairns, 2003) in search of a Facilities Management philosophy for the changing workplace. In that work, I highlighted theoretical contradictions inherent in diff erent social science and built environment approaches to understanding workplaces. I discussed the conﬂ ict between positivistic approaches, based upon rationalist philosophies, and social constructionist approaches grounded in interpretivist and postmodern philosophies. I set out a conceptual framework for addressing the ‘multiple realities’ of the workplace, to explore contextual solutions to complex and ambiguous workplace problems for which there is no one ‘right answer.’ In this chapter, I develop a more nuanced approach that addresses the philosophical and methodological contradictions inherent in dealing with these multiple realities and outline a framework for contextual investigation and problem analysis, engaging with multiple stakeholders with diff erent beliefs and value sets. In this, I build on later writing (Cairns, 2008) on theorizing the built environment, referring to Aristotelian philosophy and the concept of phronēsis, or practical wisdom, and its contemporary social science interpretation in the works of Flyvbjerg (2001, 2003).