- freely available
Buildings 2014, 4(3), 453-466; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings4030453
2. Research Approach
- Are there multi-actor engagement models that can support BIM/VDC uptake, and if so, do current forms of contract and business processes in Australia align with these processes and technologies, and the adoption of integrated project delivery to maximize productivity benefits?
- Is there an organizational lead agent in Australia coordinating BIM/VDC strategy development and implementation for the sector, and if not what is the impact of consequent fragmentation on: (a) behaviors amongst those involved; (b) project delivery frameworks; and (c) access to skilled labor and business capability development programs.
- Network models of multi-actor engagement—Such models [26,28] enable input in industry strategy development from a wide range of economic actors including government, industry associations, training bodies and research institutions . This requires models of decision-making which are decentralized and involve “reflexive rationality” which arises from negotiation and steering for the purpose of coordinating economic behaviors in the pursuit of common purposes. This will be investigated in the context of issues of collaboration not previously facilitated by traditional procurement forms, and which do not embody an open multi-disciplinary approach with the early engagement of contractors and sub-contractors. This problem is well recognized within the UK  and Australia . The development of solutions to problems of industry change and technology uptake might depend on the extent to which meta-governance institutional arrangements are reflected in procurement arrangements and project delivery;
- An organizational lead agent coordinating delivery frameworks for analyzing uptake—Responsible for coordinating delivery frameworks in the implementation of strategies which mobilize stakeholders to pursue common goals. Prior research shows that institutional environments in which there is a coordinating agent “laying the ground rules” for the sector is critical if coordinated transformation is to occur [12,26,27,32,33]. As such, it is necessary to have a steering agent responsible for providing overall guidelines and frameworks, including a common communication platform around performance and productivity benefits. This includes three elements: (I) the development of achievable mandates with government agencies taking a steering role in mandating BIM and VDC deliverables for their program of works; (II) the need for national benchmarks as a baseline from which performance can be reported and understood; and (III) a performance reporting framework with common metrics to enable effective tracking of benefits and measuring return on investment to the various parties [34,35,36,37]. Given limited current communication frameworks we would expect the role of lead agents in coordinating the development and implementation of these to be critical in achieving industrial transformation and associated productivity gains.
2.1. Research Methodology
2.1.1. The Interviews
- Network models for multi-actor engagement in BIM/VDC uptake: including specific questions relating to: which economic agents are impacting on the industry and how industry strategy has developed; whether there is multi-stakeholder engagement in which organizations collaboratively develop industry strategy; if key organizations work in isolation or whether they negotiate and modify their behaviors in communication with other key organizations and in pursuit of common goals; and if there is information sharing, appropriate risk sharing and open communication. Particular attention was given to procurement arrangements for the purpose of determining whether current forms of contract and business processes are aligned with integrated project teams and multi-actor engagement.
- Organizational lead agent coordinating delivery frameworks: including whether these agents are coordinating technology uptake; whether the institutional environment is fragmented, and whether this leads to inconsistent and conflicting behaviors amongst economic actors; or if coordinated, whether this facilitates the development of a common agenda and complementary behaviors.
- Business support systems: relating to technology uptake and organizational innovation including: types of programs in place; how are they delivered; the role of knowledge intermediaries in coordinating the system of business support and skill development for the industry; and how access to skilled labor and business capability development programs is affecting the ability of firms to adopt BIM/VDC technologies.
- Role of knowledge intermediaries: in education, training and business advice and support including the role of research institutes, training bodies, professional organizations and large contractors in skill development; and access to skilled labor and development programs
- Context and practical issues: of IPD and BIM/VDC including: clients leadership/role during early project phases to encourage uptake; relevant contract clauses for the use in transport infrastructure projects; best-practice case studies; and the value-add from BIM/VDC.
2.1.2. Analysis of Data
3. Findings and Discussion
3.1. Review of Documentation
3.2. Review of Literature
3.3. From the Interviews
- Barriers, challenges and benefits: this group of themes will provide valuable insights gathered from expert interviewees, which will inform the overall narrative and findings. This includes risk, value for money, industrialization and mass customization and standardization.
- Multi-actor engagement: as characterized by decentralized decision-making arising from negotiation and steering for the purpose of coordinating economic behaviors for a common purpose). The key issues identified by Australian and Swedish interviewees related to cultural, management and economic issues, with comments also on collaboration. Apart from the need to undertake cultural change, Swedish interviewees provided a greater level of discussion on each of these issues.
- Organizational lead agents: the need to have an agent who is responsible for providing the overall operational guidelines and frameworks, underpinned by a common communication platform around performance and productivity associated with technology uptake is emerging as a key issue. In this role, meta-governance allows public authorities to mobilize the knowledge, resources and energies of a host of public and private actors while retaining their ability to influence the scope, process and outcomes of networked policy-making . Industry fragmentation has been identified as a barrier to achieving this in Australia . Several organizations provide guidance in different arenas, for example: Engineers Australia for general awareness, legal and insurance issues; SBEnrc and previously CRC for Construction Innovation for technical and business related issues; buildingSMART for technical guidance; and the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), the Australian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) and the Civil Contractors Federation of Australia (CCF) in additional niche areas, with no overarching body providing industry-wide initiative. In Sweden Trafikverket, and in the UK the Government Construction Strategy  provide such leadership. Key issues discussed by interviewees relevant to this theme included client drivers, mandates, standards, pilots, and metrics.
- Knowledge intermediaries: play a role in education and training for industry skill development as well as developing a firm’s ability to understand, analyze and acquire knowledge from external sources. Such services facilitate industry change by ensuring that firms: have access to skills, new knowledge and associated networks; and understand the organizational changes required to introduce new technology . They can have a powerful influence on the speed of diffusion and uptake of new products and services. These organizations also play active roles in the diffusion process, including: (I) support in decision-making of whether to adopt or not; (II) as a specification writer or standard setter; and (III) as an evaluator of the technology once it is in the market . Key areas identified from interview related to diffusion and uptake; skills; productivity; asset management and SMEs. Significant differences are emerging between Australia and Sweden. In Australia industry associations are a primary avenue for up-skilling; whilst in Sweden there are stronger links between clients, contractors and universities.
3.4. Early Conclusions—Towards a National Strategy
- The development of such a strategy will require the leadership and coordination of lead agent and engagement with lead industry associations is important in the dissemination and industry leadership;
- The main transport infrastructure clients are state and territory government agencies. As such, these organizations are in a unique position to influence the uptake of new technologies and processes;
- Pilot projects aim to build a knowledge base especially in terms of productivity benefits and processes associated with the uptake of BIM and IPD;
- A national mandate has been shown to provide the industry with the incentive to develop a pipeline of coordinated actions;
- Building consensus on standard performance indicators and metrics to proof the business value of BIM and IPD in terms of project, business and industry-wide productivity gains;
- The development of national standards provides a framework for a nationally consistent approach for uptake that reduces macro-economic burden of adoption and increases productivity.
Conflict of Interests
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