The paper discusses the potential impact of videoconferencing on practices and processes within the construction industry, based on analyses carried out on its use and impact in the healthcare sector – which like construction involves technology‐intensive processes which are dependent upon cross‐professional and cross‐disciplinary relationships and communications, operate within an increasingly regulatory and litigious climate, and involve organizationally fluid, virtual, teams spanning several subindustries. Recently published research evidence from the healthcare sector suggests that whilst videoconferencing and other advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) have pervasive capabilities, successes in their application may be shortlived and modest in achievement. In use, their actual uptake and application have been found to be fundamentally affected by a range of social and operational issues, such as fears over a new formalization and trackability of previously informal conversations; a rebalancing of power relationships (between professionals using the ICTs as well as between doctor and patient); pressures on social/cultural and procedural alignment between participants; and personal and corporate attitudes to the technologies (including simply disliking the ICT). There is also evidence from the healthcare sector to suggest that ICTs increase the complexity of the delivering healthcare, and that the limitations of the technologies emphasise an existing dependency of communications and processes on tacit knowledge which is not readily formalized for communication via ICTs. However, the paper also notes an increasing pressure on the construction industry to respond to the globalizing potential that ICTs offer for the supply and delivery of knowledge‐based services, and discusses the implications of the issues found in the healthcare sector for the use and potential abuse of ICTs in the construction industry that will have to be successfully addressed in order to avoid ICTs being perceived as threatening and to allow their use to help organizations address the globalising marketplace.
Bower, D.J., Hinks, J., Wright, H., Hardcastle, C. and Cuckow, H. (2001), "ICTs, videoconferencing and the construction industry: opportunity or threat?", Construction Innovation, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 129-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/14714170110814569Download as .RIS
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