Conflict and claims culture in construction

Whaley, A 2020, Conflict and claims culture in construction , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Construction industry conflict persists despite decades of research on the subject. Incomplete design, ambiguous contract terms and poor contract administration remain common, causing contractors to routinely make claims for additional time and money. The settlement of claims is made more difficult by inadequate record-keeping, exaggerated claimed submissions and partisan attitudes amongst project teams. As a result, claims often lead to escalations in adversarial behaviour, formalised conflict and, ultimately, costly disputes. This thesis explores how conflict around claims emerges in practice and how it influences practitioners’ perceptions and behaviours, from an insider-perspective. Through an auto/ethnographic study of the author’s practice as a claims consultant in the Gulf Cooperation Council States, the thesis draws on symbolic interactionist theory to explain how practitioners experience claims as projects play out, how they generalise about other practitioner groups and their own in light of these experiences, and how an adversarial “claims culture” can emerge by recurring events common across construction projects. The research found that claims culture is created through carefully tailored interactions constructed based on shared histories of previous projects. The research shows how project culture and behaviour continuously transforms in response to adverse experiences, and it identifies those key events and circumstances that lead to project culture transformations. The author recommends that changes to adversarial industry culture may be brought about by influencing how practitioners perceive other professional groups and themselves, and through modifications to contractual and project structures that could avoid those situations and experiences that often lead to self-reinforcing cycles of conflict and the problems that result. The empirical, insider perspective of this research has value in an academic setting by offering contextual explanations for ‘poor’ claims management practice framed in the view of practitioners, while being grounded in sociological theory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: McAdam, B (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Depositing User: AR Whaley
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2021 12:48
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2023 02:30

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