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Cheng, J (2008) The impact of strategic decisions on construction client satisfaction: An assessment framework, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Wolverhampton.
- Type: Thesis
- Keywords: client satisfaction; communication; consultant; expert system; factor analysis; maintenance; multiple regression; occupancy; procurement; project success; quantitative research; service delivery; service quality
- URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2436/47313
For some considerable time, client satisfaction has been a problematic issue in the UK construction industry with many projects failing to satisfy the client needs and meet or exceed the client expectations. Client satisfaction is, however, a key performance measure and a major determinant of project success. There is a common belief that strategic decisions made by clients have a significant impact on the levels of client satisfaction. Strategic decisions in the context of construction projects are often associated with project stages including pre-design, design, tender, construction, occupancy & maintenance and disposal and vary in nature. Consequently the impact of strategic decisions on client satisfaction depends as much on timing as on the subjects of the decisions. While such findings are useful to facilitate the industry’s focus on addressing the failure in achieving client satisfaction, and point to the route for improvement, they are arbitrary and do not provide a systematic basis for investigating the real impact on client satisfaction. The nature of strategic decisions and the significance of its impact on client satisfaction have not been clearly identified and client satisfaction has remained an elusive issue for a majority of construction professionals. This research was hence undertaken to seek empirical evidence of an interrelationship between strategic decisions and client satisfaction. Defining strategic decisions, often associated with project stages, as ones that are complex and made under uncertainty and have a long-term impact on project success, a quantitative research methodology combined with qualitative approaches, was adopted in investigating the interrelationship between strategic decisions and client satisfaction. Findings of a detailed literature review revealed that client satisfaction at any stage depends as much on the service quality attributes of service providers including overall service delivery, people of service providers and communications with clients as on the influence of strategic decisions and the client itself. These performance attributes and the groups of strategic decisions, referred as strategic decision cluster (SDC), were further assessed and the relationships between these measures and strategic decisions were examined using factor analysis and multiple regression modelling techniques. Analyses revealed SDCs including Design Approach, Procurement and Implementation predict better the outcomes of service quality and hence higher levels of client satisfaction. Service delivery and communications with clients have a positively significant correlation with the levels of client satisfaction. Of these two attributes, communications with clients makes the largest unique contribution to the variance and is considered the better predictor for client satisfaction. The developed models is validated via external and internal validation and the findings support the thesis that strategic decisions have a impact on client satisfaction by strongly influencing the performance of service quality although causality cannot be assumed. It is recommended that service providers including contractors and consultants devote more efforts to improve their performance on the attributes of service quality identified as having significant association with client satisfaction, particularly service delivery and communications with clients. Further research efforts focusing on providing a practical tool or expert system so as to address the practical issues for a wider range of clients and service providers are also recommended.