Client-side project managers face challenges in motivating project organisations to pursue exceptional design and construction performance. One approach to improving the motivation of project organisations is by offering a financial incentive reward for the achievement of voluntary performance standards above the minimum required standard. However, little investigation has been undertaken into the features of a successful incentive system as a part of an overall procurement strategy. In response to a lack of information available to client-side project managers tasked with the initial design of an incentive system, the paper explores motivation under a successful incentive and identifies key learnings for client-side project managers to consider when designing incentives. Our findings are based on the results of a large Australian case study which is interpreted against a conceptual framework based on both economic and psychological perspectives of motivation. The results suggest that motivation towards incentive goals is influenced by the value the project organisations place on the incentive reward as a commercial opportunity to increase their profit margins. However, perhaps more important are the relationship management processes that promote commitment to the project; and pride in the achievement of project goals. In the case study, these processes intensified the direct motivational effect of the incentive reward on offer. The findings also highlight the importance of ensuring that incentive goals and performance measurement processes remain relevant to the organisations throughout a project to continuously encourage motivation under changing project conditions
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