Culture of Quality and the Australian Construction Industry

Swapan Saha1 & Mary Hardie2

1Senior Lecturer, School of Construction, Property and Planning, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW, 1797. Phone +61 0 9852 4316, FAX +61 0 9852 4300, s.saha@uws.edu,au
2Research Associate, School of Construction, Property and Planning, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW, 1797. Phone +61 0 9852 4323, FAX +61 0 9852 4300, m.hardie@uws.edu.au

Abstract

The importance of quality control has long been recognised by Australian business. This is particularly true in the construction industry, where regulators are requiring quality assurance (QA) implementation for almost all capital works. Recently doubts have arisen as to whether quality systems are actually achieving positive results in Australia. Much of the existing literature suggests that any reported failure is due to cultural misalignment. The aim of this research is to test by questionnaire the degree of compatibility between prevailing attitudes and the cultural values required for the successful implementation of quality systems in Australian construction. The results show some cultural trends that support the introduction of QA to the building industry, however, it was also found that, while the industry will sometimes accept such theories, their introduction may result in cultural consequences that were not anticipated. QA has sometimes been found to generate a low level of worker commitment and participation, and may actually reduce the degree of pride in workmanship and increase the level of fear on building sites. The message for lean construction advocates is that they should seek to anticipate potential cultural misalignments between their theory and current industry practice in order to implement their principles holistically.

Keywords

Culture of quality, Quality, Quality assurance, Total quality management, Australian construction industry.

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Reference

Saha, S. & Hardie, M. 2005, 'Culture of Quality and the Australian Construction Industry' In:, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Sydney, Australia, 19-21 Jul 2005. pp 531-538

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