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“A Pilot Study of Client Complexity, Emergent Requirements and Stakeholder Perceptions of Project Success”

26 August 2010

Derek Thomson

Just accepted for Construction Management and Economics.  Sole-authored, too!


Construction industry reliance on performance metrics fixed at the project outset is being superseded by increasing use of emergent client judgements to characterise success. Clients may still consider a project that fails to meet formalised time, cost and performance goals successful if it satisfies emergent requirements not understood during initial briefing. Construction practitioners do not routinely recognise that client awareness of requirements improves as projects progress. Internal conflict among the client stakeholders and their reflections on the emerging project solution help client stakeholders to better understand their needs. Dissatisfaction results when these emergent requirements are not acknowledged.

The need for practitioners to recognise and respond to these issues is explored by paradigmatic case study of an office relocation and refurbishment project. The role of the ‘Project Sponsor’ as a synthesiser of client requirements and reflections on the emerging solution was observed to be subverted by stakeholders in a client body who found their emergent requirements were not acknowledged by construction practitioners. By characterising the harmful effect of pluralistic client complexity and emergent requirements on perceptions of project success, the rationale for a revised project sponsor role to better address these influences on perceptions of project success is contributed.

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