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The impact of professional culture on dispute resolution in the building industries of Australia and Sri-Lanka

Weddikkara, Chitra (2003) The impact of professional culture on dispute resolution in the building industries of Australia and Sri-Lanka. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The construction industry poses a number of challenges to those working in it. One important challenge is that the industry is dependent upon human interactions in the management of building projects. In this environment it is important for those who manage the projects to deal with intricate relationships and to consider the emotions, interactions and various types of reasoning that lie behind the actions and decisions taken by the participants in the construction process.

The issue for researchers is to gain a better understanding of the variables that affect the actions of the participants in this process. Such research demands sensitivity to the values, attitudes and behavior developed by the different occupational groupings. These factors according to Edgar Schein define the culture of a professional group. This research was conceived on the belief that the professionals in the construction industry brought to bear their own professional culture on the industry. It was necessary to have a better understanding of this culture in order to be able to resolve disputes that occur in the construction process.

That is the impact of culturally deternlined values, attitudes and behavior of these professional groups. Therefore, this research is aimed at investigating the professional cultures of the participants who come together in a construction project. The question posed was whether they shared a culture or had differences, and if differences existed whetherthese differences had an effect on the reactions of each of the groups to disputes and their resolution.

A survey was carried out among professional groups in Australia and Sri-Lanka and the survey data from both countries were analyzed using statistical tests. The results show that professional groups share similarities in professional culture as well as differences. It also showed that these cultural differences created an adversarial atmosphere among construction project participants. It was also found that introducing a party outside of the usual professional groups would be beneficial in the resolution process. Respondents were of the opinion that the third party outside of the construction team could be a lawyer.

This type of research is still new within the field of construction. The contributions of this work are to link professional culture and conflict and give some indication how such conflict could be addressed. In this context by identifying the values attitudes and behavior of professional groups the subject of conflict and disputes could be beneficially addressed through professional education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Supervisor(s): Zariski, Archie
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