Conflict and dispute in construction

Peter Fenn*, David Lowe, Christopher Speck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


'Conflict' and 'dispute' are two distinct notions. The conceptual difference between the two is explored and further reviewed through the literature on conflict and dispute in the field of construction; a taxonomy for future study is also introduced. Conflict, it is proposed, exists wherever there is incompatibility of interest, and therefore is pandemic. Conflict can be managed, possibly to the extent of preventing a dispute resulting from the conflict. Dispute is associated with distinct justiciable issues. Disputes require resolution. This means that they can be managed: the process of dispute resolution lends itself to third party intervention. The construction industry and the chemical process industry in the UK are compared, through perceptions and experiences of conflict and disputes arising from their two sets of standard contract forms. The methodology is a review of published cases and a survey conducted among professionals with experience. The paucity of research in this field is discussed and the empirical work on the causes of conflict and dispute is reviewed. It is concluded that effective management of conflicts and disputes would be furthered by separating the two fields, and particularly by applying a more stringent structuring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997


  • Chemical industry
  • Conflict
  • Construction
  • Dispute
  • Standard contracts
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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