Conflict in small- and medium-sized projects: Case of partnering to the rescue

Paul D. Gardiner, J. E L Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that project and other temporary organizations have special characteristics that can result in a higher incidence of dysfunctional conflict than their ongoing organizational counterparts. In this paper, qualitative data collected from a selection of retrospective UK-based construction projects of between approximately $2,000,000 and $8,000,000 show that the occurrence and effect of dysfunctional conflicts in projects remain a cause for concern despite changes in project management organization design. This paper provides a brief review of the more important mechanisms leading to dysfunctional conflict within these projects and illustrates the important role of people rather than procedures or systems in this process. In a later section of the paper, examples are drawn from one case in particular where interorganizational team building was included as a component of project organization design. The outcome of this case is consistent with the hypothesis that interorganizational team building, whether acknowledged as part of a formal partnering arrangement or not, can be used at the start of small- and medium-sized construction projects to reduce conditions of latent conflict and help engender a culture of cooperation and conflict resolution between the client, designers, utilities, and construction organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998


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