The social procurement practices of tier-one construction contractors in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Construction Management and Economics, 2019, 37 (4), pp. 183 - 200
Issue Date:
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© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Social procurement is becoming an increasingly important requirement in the delivery of private- and public- sector construction projects across the world, yet there is relatively little research done in this area. Mobilising Furneaux and Barraket’s social procurement typology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior managers from eight tier-one contractors in the Australian construction industry to explore and classify the types of social procurement strategies used in projects, the types of social value created and the barriers to implementation. Documentary data were collected in the form of company policies and contract requirements. Results demonstrate the conceptual merit of Furneaux and Barraket’s typology in a construction industry context by highlighting different constraints on social value creation for each type of social procurement. These results also indicate that approaches to social procurement in the Australian construction industry are generally driven by a philosophy of risk mitigation rather than opportunity maximisation, and are confined to low-value and low-risk construction activities and are constrained by a lack of existing and new supply chain social-value creation capacity. Construction industry social value chains are fragile in Australia, and it is concluded that in building the sector’s significant untapped capacity to deliver social value to the communities in which it builds, priority should be given to three main strategies: third sector capacity building; barrier-to-entry reduction and skills development in managing new cross-sector collaborations among public, private and third sector organisations.
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