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Client perceptions of barriers to partnering

Per Erik Eriksson (Department of Business Administration and Management, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)
TorBjörn Nilsson (Department of Business Administration and Management, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)
Brian Atkin (Department of Construction Management, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 7 November 2008




The purpose of this paper is to identify critical barriers to partnering, as perceived by construction clients, and the specific measures that are taken to overcome them during implementation.


Empirical data were collected through a survey study of 87 professional construction clients in Sweden.


Clients regard the most critical barriers as those attributable to cultural and organisational aspects. The analysis also shows that clients' perceptions of these barriers do not, in fact, affect their procurement procedures. Two‐thirds of clients in the survey wish to increase cooperation with actors in the belief that it will favour project success. Their intention does not have any bearing on their procurement and project management procedures, which are still aligned to competitive bidding. Two potential reasons for this inconsistency are discussed: clients may be unaware of how their procurement procedures affect cooperation, and/or the individual decision maker may not have strong enough incentives to start using new and less familiar procurement procedures even though they are potentially more suitable than traditional procedures.

Research limitations/implications

The quantitative data are limited to clients' perceptions of barriers to partnering; a contractor perspective is not included in the survey.

Practical implications

The research results can serve as an alert for construction clients that their procurement procedures need to be adapted if they want to achieve the move towards increased cooperation that they say they do.


This paper offers a unique analysis of the correlations between desired outcome in the form of increased cooperation, and actual behaviour in the form of procurement procedures.



Erik Eriksson, P., Nilsson, T. and Atkin, B. (2008), "Client perceptions of barriers to partnering", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 527-539.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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