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Tracing client interests in the course of a project: why are some client interests incorporated whereas others are not?

Kurokawa, M. (2015) Tracing client interests in the course of a project: why are some client interests incorporated whereas others are not? PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00108318


There is a widespread assumption that client expectations should be accommodated during a building project. However, studies which highlight the complex nature of construction clients point out that this assumption is not easy to address. There may be conflicting interests within a client organization and these may change over time in the course of a project. This research asks why some client interests are incorporated whereas others are not into the development of a building project. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is used to study a single building project on a University campus. The building project is analysed as a number of discussions or negotiations, in which actors persuade each other to choose one solution over another. The actors include: client organization members, architects, engineers and architectural floor plans. The issues which examined include: building location, space allocation and mechanical space size. An ANT analysis of a range of actors and issues provides a way to study client engagement without privileging client perspectives. The analysis documents changes in the types of decision-making processes at play as the range of options for any particular issues are constrained by prior decisions. More specifically, the thesis reveals the shifting power relations between clients, project team members and project documents. At the start of the project, the clients specified the range of options and chose their preferred solutions. Later on, the interdependence of issues led to a moderation of client interests; project team members persuaded clients to compromise on some of their preferences. Similarly, project documents fixed certain decisions, which shaped or limited available options for subsequent issues. In this way, clients’ ability to select their preferred options was increasingly constrained as the project developed. Clients, however, retained the power to control the timing of other participants’ involvement, and in this way, to impose their interests over others. The thesis develops the concept of “interest” in ANT analysis, and documents the way clients secure their interests in the course of the project. It concludes with practical recommendations to clients about how to be aware of their conflicting interests.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Schweber, L. and Hughes, W.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Construction Management and Engineering
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:108318


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