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Title: The influence of paradigms and perspectives on the decision to build undertaken by large experienced clients of the UK construction industry
Author: Woodhead, Roy M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3572 2060
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis explains how paradigms and perspectives influence both the process and content of the decision to build undertaken by large experienced clients of the UK construction industry. The level of client experience is drawn from a sample with a collective value of around £300-350 million, which are in turn taken from a group of clients who spend around £1 billion per year on construction industry projects. The thesis moves from a "messy" (Ackoff, 1979) view of the research problem and client dissatisfaction (Latham, 1994 and Egan, 1998) to arrive at a clear understanding of how the decision to build is made. Its scope begins by considering the intial stimulus that triggers the decision-making process and finishes when the developing proposal receives a firm commitment in the form of budgetary sanctioning. This thesis argues that it is the allocation of funds which marks the boundary between a proposal and project stage and so names the proposal's evolution phase the "Pre-Project Stage". The overarching aim of the thesis is to prepare the way for improved client satisfaction and it achieves this goal by explaining the following: • The process of the decision to build and its structure is determined by the expectations of paradigms and perspectives. • The content of the decision to build process and the conversations within it are influenced by other competing paradigms and perspectives that seek to impose 'their' criteria by which their definition of 'good' decisions can be recognised. • The internal and external influences on the decision to build's process and content stem from the complex interrelationships that influence the dominance of perspectives within individual paradigms that are at the same time in competition to determine how success is recognised. • How the decision to build can be improved is explained as a corollary of the realisation that contrasting views of what is a 'good' decision can exist at different levels within the same client organisation. The use of grounded theory (Glasser and Strauss, 1967) with a multiple case study research methodology (Yin, 1994), built around thirteen core questions, led to a detailed explanation and conclusions which satisfied the research aims and Qbjectives. Central to this detailed explanation is the consequence of dividing the process of decision-making between constituent groups within the client organisation; these groups are decision approvers, decision takers and decision shapers. The explanation articulates the decision to build as a paradigm in its own right and reveals that the people involved in the decision making process are ,in reality a co-ordinated-collection of smaller groups. This division of decision making lacks consonance as the various groups push different process and content agenda in an attempt to arrive at a successful decision. It is paradigms and perspectives that guide logic as they provide a means of objectifying decisions and also link the decision to build to a wider society. The thesis highlights that conflict can exist between the decision approvers',' takers' and shapers' view of effectiveness and III efficiency. Essentially the property department, who are the decision shapers, see their role as delivering projects and so it is through their paradigms and erspectives that they attempt to justify subjective aims as objective decisions. Shapers see their primary role as driving potential-projects through the approval process to achieve budgetary sanctioning and are often in competition with other shapers from different parts of the same organisation. Decision shapers see the approval process not as a mechanism to improve decision quality, but as a series of obstacles in the way of the project's delivery. Should anything stifle the shapers drive to get a proposal through the pre-project stage, then they will make modifications and adapt their approach in an attempt to ensure that the proposal becomes a project. The unifying theme is that all the actors seek to realise 'good' decisions and that for shapers 'good' decisions result in the successful delivery of a building. The construction industry's interpretation of 'client' can now be redefined as a small group of property related professionals working in a much larger organisation which has a core business that is tangential to the decision to build. Validity is achieved by establishing agreement with subjects during data collection, by selecting experienced subjects who want to be seen as using best practice, by using cross-sectional corroboration within the case studies and literature, by using grounded theory and its inherent ability to confirm theory as it emerges out of data, by providing an audit traIl from explanation to the data, and by verifying its findings in a validating workshop.
Supervisor: Male, Stephen P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Management & business studies