Planning for claims: an ethnography of industry culture

John Rooke, David Seymour, Richard Fellows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Claims by contractors for additional payments have been identified by commentators as a major source of difficulty in the industry. Ethnographic research with industry members reveals some key features of planning practices that underlie such events. Claims are sometimes planned at tender stage and sometimes during the course of a project. One practice at tender stage is a pricing technique that minimizes the tender price while maximizing the out-turn cost of a contract by exploiting mistakes in the bill of quantities. Another is the programming of work to maximize its vulnerability to delay. More reactive techniques may be employed during the course of the project, often to make up for an unanticipated increase in costs. These and other similar practices may be reported as features of an integrated culture, defined in such a way as to encompass activity and reject Cartesian dualism. The unique adequacy requirements of methods are suitable criteria for the evaluation of such reports. The claims culture arises from economic conditions in the industry, which include low entry barriers and competitive tendering. However, removal of these conditions alone cannot guarantee that the practices will cease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004


  • ethnomethodology
  • organisational culture
  • claims management
  • ethnography


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