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The construction industry operates primarily as a system of sub-contracting and purpose built alliances. There is a wide spread of stakeholders involved in conceiving a building project through typical stages such as design, finance, build, manage, upgrade and, ultimately, replacement and a corresponding need for communication and cooperation. Specialists who can prevent bridges falling down or who build 20 storey buildings are seen as the hard-nosed, action people who have helped bring us into the modern era. However, there are intuitive activities and disciplines which help us to achieve the type of construction achievements that have been the hallmarks of the 19th, 20th and now the 21st centuries. Most of these so called soft disciplines are about how one helps people, often highly skilled, achieve those construction and engineering goals. The key components are consultation and communication.
Communication strategies should be based on a thorough understanding of the ways that humans co-operate in joint undertakings, the key principles of social dynamics and learning theory plus the ways in which people deliver, accept and understand words and pictures. The disciplines of organisational and environmental psychology have become a basic fundamental of modern business activities from management and organisational strategy to marketing and customer relations and to the improvement of working, recreational and living environments.
However it is rare for a mature industry such as construction to adopt or examine those disciplines for guidance about either strategies or operations. This is despite the fact that the construction industry is almost entirely based on the principle of sub-contracting, business and professional alliances, all of which require understanding of environmental psychology and social dynamics in order to build trust, reputation, teamwork and client satisfaction. There is therefore a major need for communications to be systematic, understood by all stakeholders and intelligently applied. This paper concentrates on the need for the client to become a more confident and better informed stakeholder in the construction project, and seeks to provide high level management guidance for traditional centralized systems. The ultimate goal of the paper is to provide a systematic guideline for stakeholders to address early in the life of a project to ensure that industry professionals, clients and sub-clients are “working from the same page”
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