The ‘transaction x-ray’: understanding construction procurement

Alan Aitken, Robert A. Paton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    43 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper presents the results of a case study, the Construction Case, which examines procurement practices within the UK construction supply chain and compares these with a more general UK sample taken from non-construction sectors. Using a qualitative methodology, the approaches to relationship management and buyer value perception are graphically mapped, using an innovative ‘Transaction X-Ray’ technique. The Construction Case considers procurement transactions conducted at various points along the construction value chain: the client, the construction firm and the specialist contractor. Recognising that the research design favours a small sample size, and thus limits generalisability beyond the boundaries of the case, the paper finds that construction industry procurement operates in an adversarial and largely arm’s length manner. While procurement practice is found to share common aspects with other industrial sectors, the case demonstrates that the construction industry is more adversarial and less collaborative than is the average found across the other sectors examined. The paper outlines a useful framework whereby construction practitioners can evaluate elements of procurement practice within their own organisations, and also signposts the required direction for future research in order to reflect the gap, suggested by the case, between current normative theory and construction procurement practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-123
    Number of pages9
    JournalProceedings of the ICE - Management, Procurement and Law
    Issue number3
    Early online date12 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


    • procurement
    • tendering
    • management
    • contracts & law


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