Partnering provides a major opportunity for improving project performance, whilst offering direct benefits to the whole of the supply chain. Many research studies reinforce this assertion although there is less critical analysis examining the nature of partnering in practice and whether the claims made for it are consistently justified. The experiences of commercial surveyors and managers within the UK construction industry have been gathered in a pilot study, drawing on the opinions of 48 commercial managers employed by a leading national contractor. The perceptions and experiences of partnering relationships are generally positive, although the early optimism at the beginning of such arrangements is seldom sustained throughout the project lifecycle. Attitudes to partnering are similar whether the relationship is upstream (client/main contractor) or downstream (main contractor/subcontractor). The growth in popularity of alternative procurement methods and statutory adjudication are both regarded as having placed contracting parties on a more equal footing. However in today's competitive environment, contractors continue to operate on tight margins and, common to all project stakeholders, the financial imperative remains the commercial manager's principal consideration. Trust is hard-earned and relationships are still characterised by a cost driven agend
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