Third cycle

Here the researchers read again through the document extracting and tabulating everything that could be construed as environmental facts. The definition of an environmental fact used when this table was constructed was ‘any thing or context that would have influence on an actor when making their decisions or any thing or context that would force a decision to be made’. An example of this part of the analysis is provided in Table 6.2, “Environments (extract)”.

The result of this cycle enabled the researchers to develop the table of environmental factors that could be identified. It became abundantly clear that social, political and economic factors played an enormous part in this project.

Because of the detailed examination of the document, a number of hitherto seemingly insignificant factors emerged. For example, because of the hub nature of the old Stapleton Airport, a local storm could congest all air traffic across the United States since predictions about increases in travel demand for the local area appear to have been wrong. Moreover, this was a public works program and the local laws stated that there must be 30% of minority owned firms and 6% of firms owned by women participating in the project. And, curiously, the authors gave a detailed history of BAE, appearing to emphasise its list of failures (e.g. the San Francisco Airport baggage handling system) while still describing them as the pre-eminent baggage handling system developers.

During the creation of this second derivative text document we found ourselves constantly referring back to the first document as a reference. A feeling emerged that the environment in which this project was living was quite delicately balanced with considerable demands being made on the project by a variety of key stakeholders. What was becoming evident was that it appeared that each environmental factor was quite fixed and immovable.

Table 6.2. Environments (extract)



The City did not get the airlines together to ask them what they wanted or what they needed to operate. The approach was more along the lines of ‘we will build the apartment building, and then you come in and rent a set of rooms’.

Gene Di Fonso



The direct relationship with BAE was delegated to Working Area 4, which also had responsiblity for building design efforts such as the people mover, airside concourse, passenger bridge, parking garage, etc.




BAE had to change its working structures to conform to DIA’s project management structure

Gene Di Fonso



At the time of BAE commencing work, substantial construction work had already been done necessitating in some instances to have the already completed work demolished.




Head of the DIA project team resigns.

Walter Slinger



Chief engineer Walter Slinger dies.

Gail Edmond



Gail Edmond takes over the job of chief engineer




City Council did not give Gail Edmond the same autonomy and power as Walter Slinger – they tied her hands and everybody knew it.




Just after Slinger’s death, BAE employees’ site-wide access deteriorated as their access was ignored or restricted.




City of Denver had denied BAE’s original contract because it did not comply with minority employment requirements. BAE engaged outside contractors instead of their own employees.




The City of Denver was unable to supply clean power to the airport baggage handling system




The management team had no prior baggage handling competence or experience. They treated the baggage handling system as a public works project – like pouring concrete. Access was difficult with contractors out on their own – almost anarchy.

Gene Di Fonso



BAE simply did not respond to the obvious incredible workload that they had. Their inexperience and project management vastly underestimated their task. Their work ethic was deplorable.

‘Project Manager’ from Stone and Webster, consultants to PMT.

The local laws about the desired mix of minority owned and female owned firms involved in public works contracts was flagged as being very inflexible given that BAE was forced to change its working structures to conform.

In addition, the researchers noted that the airport Chief Engineer, Walter Slinger, seemed to be something of a champion of the project and the one who was convinced by BAE that it was indeed possible. It seems that Slinger was also instrumental in making the actual construction work of the project operate – ‘He had a lot of autonomy and could get things done’. The researchers have interpreted this statement as meaning that Slinger was able to make substantial decisions directly related to the project alone and without reference to higher authorities. This was changed when Slinger died and his job was taken over by Gail Edmond who was stripped of that autonomy by the Denver City Council and forced to validate all her decisions with them.

By this stage of the hermeneutic cycle, the researchers had created two new texts and were evaluating their contributions to the understanding of this case. It was becoming evident that the next text, to be developed during the fourth cycle, would reveal even more, and enable an even deeper understanding, of the whole from its component parts.

As a reflection it was at this point of the investigation, during the creation of this second derived text, that the first researcher suddenly realised how important Walter Slinger was to the whole project. The fact of his death, previously overlooked, now had a profound impact from this point onwards on the investigation. What was now becoming clearer was that Slinger’s autonomy and flexibility died with him because Edmonds did not inherit these managerial freedoms.