Purpose-- DB clients play a vital role in the delivery of DB system and the clients’ competences are critical to the success of DB projects. Most of DB clients, however, remain inexperienced with the DB system. This study, therefore, aims to identify the key competences that DB clients should possess to ensure the success of DB projects in the construction market of China.\ud Design/Methodology/Approach -- Five semi-structured face-to-face interviews and two rounds Delphi questionnaire survey were conducted in the construction market of China to identify the key competences of DB clients. Rankings have been assigned to these key competences on the basis of their relative importance.\ud Findings-- Six ranked key competences of DB clients have been identified, which are, namely, (1) the ability to clearly define project scope and objectives; (2) financial capacity for the projects; (3) capacity in contract management; (4) adequate staff or consulting team; (5) effective coordination with DB contractors and (6) experience with similar design-build projects. Calculation of Kendall’s Coefficient of Concordance (W) indicates a statistically significant consensus of panel experts on these top six key competences.\ud Practical implications—Clients should clearly understand the competence requirements in DB projects and should assess their DB capability before going for the DB option.\ud Originality/Value-- The examination of DB client’s key competences will help the client deepen the understanding of the DB system. DB clients can also make use of the research findings as guidelines to improve their DB competence
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