A Standardised Incorporated Partnering Model for the UK Construction Industry

Crompton, Lee (2016) A Standardised Incorporated Partnering Model for the UK Construction Industry. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document]
PDF (Thesis document) - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



Partnering is a broad term used to describe an integrated team working approach; and integration means combining various elements into a whole. Partnering became popular within the UK construction industry largely as a result of two distinct 1990 reports (i.e. Latham, 1994 and Egan, 1998). The corollary of this relied to some extent on parties being dependent upon one another for success whether this arrangement was for a one off project or a longer term relationship over a number of projects. Partnering was also proffered as a vehicle for providing greater efficiencies and a higher ‘value’ through an agreement where a set of actions could help project teams improve their conjoined performance. The partnering approach was seen as an agreement that endorsed better collaboration, engendered mutual trust and team working, whilst also creating a platform for sharing both risk and rewards. Therefore, whilst not meant to be a fixed way of working per se, it was acknowledged from the outset that certain cultural, attitudinal and procedural changes would be required throughout the relevant supply chain. This to enable partnering to develop as project teams evolved within their relationships in order to find the most effective ways of achieving agreed objectives. Meaning partnering was about achieving ‘best value’ for all parties. Yet, while the positive aspects of partnering have been espoused in extant literature, covering various industry sectors, including: manufacturing, retail and construction; there was no explicit definition as to what partnering was [specifically] within the UK construction industry, or what it was supposed to achieve. Considerable debate therefore continues to challenge the partnering paradigm, for as it remains unestablished with limited systematising or standardisation, organisations commonly communicate with those one tier removed. As a result, the UK construction industry remains relatively unchanged despite successive reports, recommendations and potential collaborative solutions. Thus organisations continue to pursue their own self-interests to such an extent that ‘true’ collaborative working is often rendered impossible to achieve. This has had a negative impact on the industry as a whole, including the supply chain. In summary therefore, the industry still remains fragmented, adversarial and divided, which impedes communication, trust and a willingness to embrace the true ‘spirit’ of partnering per se.
The study, taking a pragmatic post-positivist stance, focuses on four key disciplines (Client, Consultant, Main Contractor and Sub-contractor). The rationale supporting this approach endeavoured to capture actors and context, such that observations and research findings could be grounded and linked back to theory generation. An explicit mixed method research methodological approach was adopted in this research to purposefully explore phenomena and reason, especially to increase understanding and affirmation in respect of the partnering paradigm. This engaged both quantitative and qualitative approaches which engaged domain practitioners across the four disciplines. Content analysis of that qualitative data provided a vehicle for mapping the fabric, resilience and veracity of the core partnering drivers. This helped develop the second phase of the measuring instrument. Accordingly, theoretical codes were then generated and subsequently administered to 40 individual companies across the four disciplines. Purposive sampling was then used to select two case studies for data capture and model explication. Quantitative data analysis was then used to evaluate a series of drivers and variables. These were then mapped into a conceptual process model using an iterative approach (within the case studies) to affirm process conformity, accuracy and relevance. The model was then tested and validated with independent domain experts to ensure cogency (internal/external), reliability (inter-rater/observer) and homogeneity (consistency).
This work presents a new conceptual model for strengthening and supporting the partnering paradigm; which, it is proffered will open up new discourse in both theory and practice. The philosophical underpinnings of this work support the concepts of sustained partnering growth, through guidance, governance and commonality. It presents stakeholders with a systematised and standardised approach to supply chain collaboration. The conceptual model identifies eight key drivers, the granularity of which highlight dynamic drivers, dependencies and relationships needed to support and promote ‘true’ partnering. The causal relationships and dependencies embody different organisational ‘cultures’ where partnering parties can work together regardless of their perceived dominance and/or tier position. Thus, the entire supply chain can be actively and more purposefully engaged in the partnering paradigm the full potential of partnering. Moreover, as the success of partnerships depends to a large extent on selecting appropriate partners; there is a concomitant need to evaluate the ‘quality’ of these relationships. The conceptual partnering model presented in this thesis offers new insight into these dynamic relationships. In doing so, it offers readers detailed evidence for further reflection – specifically cognisant of partnering organisations’ different perceptions, positioning and responsibilities for making the partnering ethos work in practice.

Repository Staff Only: item control page