Partnering relationships in construction: a literature review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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There is no unified view as to what partnering in construction actually is. Particularly the relationship dimension of the concept is unclear. The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature in order to identify the main assumptions about partnering relationships in construction research and practice. The literature is compared to the Construction Industry Institute’s (CII 1991) frequently cited definition of partnering as a long-term commitment between two or more parties in which shared understanding and trust develop for the benefits of improving construction. The literature review reveals a tendency to focus on project partnering in dyads between clients and contractors and there is also an emphasis on formal tools to develop these relationships, even if social aspects and relationship dynamics are recognised. The paper discusses these findings and suggests that, in order to increase the understanding of the substance and function of partnering relationships, it could be useful to incorporate knowledge from theoretical perspectives that are more in line with the CII definition. Two perspectives that seem particularly interesting in this respect are Supply Chain Management (SCM) and the Industrial Network Approach (INA), both of which focus on long-term relationships between actors beyond the dyad. INA also emphasises the informal aspects of relationship development. Incorporating these dimensions of partnering relationships requires processual and longitudinal studies, which are relatively rare in the contemporary partnering literature.
This is the author’s final, accepted and refereed manuscript to the article