Social outcomes in the construction industry : the case of the Western Australia ‘Percent for Art’ policy

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McCabe, A, Parker, R & Brown, KA 2011, 'Social outcomes in the construction industry: the case of the Western Australian ‘Percent for Art’ policy', Construction Management and Economics, vol. 29, no. 9, pp. 929-941.

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Social outcomes, in particular intangible social outcomes, are generally difficult to achieve in the construction industry due to the predominantly episodic, fragmented and heavily regulated nature of construction that presupposes a tendency towards mainstream construction processes and design. The Western Australian ‘Percent for Art’ policy is recognized for stimulating social outcomes, by creating richer and more aesthetically pleasing social environments through the incorporation of artwork into public buildings. A case study of four Percent for Art projects highlights the role of the Artwork Selection Committee in incorporating artwork into construction. A total of 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with committee members and policy officers. Data analysis involved a combination of pattern coding and matrix categorization, and resulted in the identification of the committee’s three key elements of collaborative communication, democratic decision-making and project champions. The findings suggest these key elements foster the interaction, communication and relationships needed to facilitate feedback, enhance relationships, create cross-functional teams and lower project resistance, which are all necessary to overcome constraints to social outcomes in construction. The findings provide greater insight into the mechanisms for achieving social outcomes and a basis for future discussion about the processes for achieving social outcomes in the construction industry.

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