Construction Industry Collaboration Initiative (CICI)

CICI Research Report - January 2023


Insights to support the UK construction sector

into an era of greater collaboration


The purpose of this report is to share the learning that came from recent research which had the following objectives.

  1. To encourage significant change in the way that businesses and organisations in the UK Construction Sector deliver contracts and projects to one that is centred around the benefits to all parties of Collaboration and Collaborative Working.
  2. Undertake research to identify the key beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that both foster and those that inhibit Collaboration and Collaborative Working between organisations in the UK Construction Sector.
  3. Develop and facilitate training and development activities based on the findings of the research, to support organisations and their people in the UK Construction Sector to gain and practise the skills, tools and processes of Collaboration and Collaborative Working.

What is Collaboration?

For the purpose of this research and to clarify ‘what is collaboration’ we refer to the Constructing Excellence definition as: ‘Bringing together everyone involved in the delivery of a project so that they work in unison towards a common goal. When problems occur, people come together to find a solution rather than splitting up to look for their contract.’[1]


Why Collaboration?

Conventional procurement in the UK Construction Sector has been rooted in a transactional approach where the parties in a contract or project are more interested in their own interests than the overall success of the contract or project. The outcome has been either cost overruns, delayed delivery and poor quality or a combination of all three.

The need for a change and move towards Collaboration and Collaborative Working in the sector was first recognised nearly thirty years ago in a report, ‘Constructing the Team’, published in 1994. The need was subsequently reinforced through two further reports: ‘Rethinking Construction’ in 1998 and ‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’ in 2009 [2]

Today the need for Collaboration and Collaborative Working has never be more pertinent if improved contract and project delivery is to be achieved in a post-Covid climate characterised by recession, inflation, economic contraction, labour and skill shortages, as well as supply chain issues further exacerbated by a lack of investment in Digitisation.

As the ‘The Construction Playbook’ published in 2020 points out there is a long way to go if the sector is to see ‘measurable improvement in project outcomes…the development of long term, strategic collaborative relationships…[that] supports the aims of improving the performance, profitability, and sustainability of the sector.’ [3]

Unfortunately, many leaders across the sector talk of collaboration with it having now probably become one of the most used but least understood words in the lexicon of business. This needs to change with talk turning into action based upon what needs to change which is the major rationale of this research.


How did this Research Come About?

Over the last two and a half years LeadersMeets has hosted over 130 webinars for Constructing Excellence South West, Constructing Excellence Midlands and their partners. Given the changing economic times LeadersMeets carried out two short surveys in July [4] and August [5] 2022. The key points from these being:

  • 99% of respondents thought working collaboratively was important to delivering successful contracts and projects.
  • 94% said that they collaborate with people from other organisations in delivering a contact or project.
  • 60% said that they had never received any training in collaboration and working in a collaborative way. Of the 40% who had received training only 62% of this 40% had received 5 hours or more.
  • 97% said that a greater understanding and learning by organisations of collaboration and working collaboratively would help them to embrace collaboration.
  • 93% thought that working more collaboratively e.g. in joint problem solving would be a positive way to work.
  • 78% thought that with the changing economic climate more organisations would resort to confrontational behaviour.
  • The level of trust within the sector was rated at 5.5 out of 10.

Research Methodology and Process

The aim of this research is to arrive at a consensus view of whether a number of beliefs, attitudes and behaviours experienced and witnessed by people working in the UK Construction Sector either fit into a domain of the restraining ‘forces against’ Collaboration and Collaborative Working or into an alternate domain of driving ‘forces for’ Collaboration and Collaborative Working.

This two domain approach has been acknowledged as an effective method in qualitative research for it allows for the systematic analysis of a wide range of factors (eg. people, available resources, customs, traditions, beliefs, attitudes, needs, desires, etc.) affecting any problem, in this instance Collaboration.

More commonly known as ‘Force Field Analysis’ [6] the methodology was created by Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist, in the 1940s and today has applications in a wide range of fields such as social science, psychology, social psychology, community psychology, and management.

In order to collect data the The Delhi Method [7] was used, a research based survey technique used as a way of collecting data from respondents within their domain of expertise and an efficient and economical way of collecting data for Force Field Analysis given the he aim of the Delphi approach is to deal with divergent opinions or controversial issues to achieve a consensus on a topic usually over 2-3 rounds of questioning.

Research Process

The first step in the Delphi process is the define and recruit a panel of willing people who possess the experience and knowledge required and are thus for the purpose of the Delhi process ‘experts’. In this instance the panel was drawn from people across the UK Construction Sector who had at least 10 or more years’ experience of working in the sector as Clients, Advisors, Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 contractors. Some 58 suitable people were written to and asked if they would be prepared to participate in the research that would be carried out completely anonymously throughout.

The second step is to form the panel. Research into the Delphi Method has concluded that the recommended minimum number of panel members is some 30 people, this number being viewed as providing a sufficient rigour for statistical analysis with a panel size greater than this not improving the quality od the Delphi result. With affirmative responses from 32 of the 58 people the research began.

Meanwhile, a questionnaire had been put together based upon beliefs, attitudes and behaviours drawn up from some 25 years of experience in working with organisations seeking to collaborate to deliver a contract, project, or product as well as pertinent literature review. The questionnaire comprised of some 19 pairs of questions [8] with one of the pair representing the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are the ‘forces for’ (foster) Collaboration and Collaborative Working and the other representing the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are the ‘forces against’ (hinder) Collaboration and Collaborative Working. For example: 

Question 4

(a)          ‘Organisations are selected as to how their cultures align and support collaboration’

(b)          ‘Organisations are selected on the basis of cost without regard to whether their cultures align or foster collaboration’

In consultation and in testing the questionnaire with a small group we found the questionnaire to be robust in making people think and with it taking no longer than 30-minutes to complete, a time considered in Delphi research to be reasonable [9].

 The third step is the undertake the first round of questioning. Panellists were sent an email that gave them an overview of the process and a link to a questionnaire that asked them to rate on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) score based upon their experience of the Construction Sector and Collaboration. The first round commenced on the 27th October, 2022. All panel members were chased through general email reminders to maintain anonymity over the next few weeks with round one being decided to be complete on the 18th November, 2022 with some 70% of panellists having filed a completed questionnaire – a percentile considered acceptable under the Delphi Method.

The fourth step is to undertake the second round of questioning. An email brief and link to an online survey was sent out to all panellists on the 21st November, 2022. In this instance the results of the first round were shown with the panellists this time being asked to choose just one answer from each pair on the basis of this being the behaviour they believe they are most likely to encounter or experience.

As in the first round all panel members were chased through general email reminders due to anonymity over the next few weeks with round one being decided to be complete on the 16th December, 2022 with some 70% of panellists having filed a completed questionnaire – a percentile considered acceptable under the Delphi Method. [10]

It was decided not to complete a third round given that the second round analysis showed high percentile scores of 75% or higher for the top 11 responses from 19 possible.


In theory, consensus is only effectively achieved when all panellists agree or disagree but this, however, is unlikely. In this instance those beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that scored over 70% have been considered to indicate a reasonably strong and preference unlikely to change significantly notwithstanding that a different panel may reach slightly differing conclusions.

Of the 19 possible some 16 or 84% of the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours were found to be ‘forces against’ and thus resisting Collaboration and Collaborative with just 3 or 16% ‘forces for’ or fostering Collaboration and Collaborative Working.


By extrapolating these results on to a Force Field Analysis diagram it starkly shows how many beliefs, attitudes and behaviour need to change if the Construction Sector in the UK is to adopt the Collaboration and Collaborative Working that will result in the effective delivery of contracts and projects to time, cost, and quality.

Changing beliefs, attitudes and behaviours is, however, not easy for humans.

Change is principally situational e.g. a move, say in this instance to Collaborative Working but for this to actually happen it requires the psychological transition by all of the people involved: a three-phrase process that humans will go through as they internalise and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about.[11]

This three phase process requires for people:

  1. To ‘let go’ and ‘say goodbye’ to their old beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that prevent collaboration and collaborative working - the 16 ‘resisting forces identified through this research ;
  2. Enter a ‘neutral zone’ – and in-between time - where the old beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that hinder (the ‘forces against’) Collaboration and Collaborative Working can be discarded but where the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that foster (the ‘forces for) Collaboration and Collaborative Working have yet to become psychologically adopted and operational;
  3. ‘Say hello’ to a ‘new beginning’ that has fully adopted, identifies with, and embraces the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that foster (the ‘forces for’) effective Collaboration and Collaborative Working to thrive on a daily basis.

With the results of this research the aim is to now to use this learning to encourage businesses and organisations in the UK Construction Sector to deliver contracts and projects through greater Collaboration and Collaborative Working.

More importantly, the research has confirmed to need  for training and development activities that will support the changes and transitions involved that will move the ‘forces against’ to ‘forces for’ Collaboration and Collaborative Working.



[2] ‘Constructing the Team’ (1994), The Latham Report; ‘Rethinking Construction’ (1998), The Egan Report; and ‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’ (2009), The Wolstenholme Report all available at

[3] The Cabinet Office (2020), ‘The Construction Playbook: Government Guidance on sourcing and contracting public works projects and programmes’ Version 1, OGL

[4] ‘Collaboration and Working Collaboratively in the Construction/Build Environment Sector’ Survey Results, July 2022

 [5] ‘Collaboration in Construction as Sector Enters a More Inflationary and Recessionary Economic Cycle’ a Snapshot Survey, August 20222

[6] Lewin, Kurt (1943). "Defining the 'Field at a Given Time'". Psychological Review. 50(3): 292–310. Republished in Resolving Social Conflicts & Field Theory in Social Science. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1997

[7] Iqbal, S and Pipon-Young, L (2009) ‘The Delphi Method’ The Psychologist 22(7) pp 598-600; Linstone, H.A and Turoff, M (1975) ‘The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications’ Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc, Boston, MA; Sackman, H (1975) ‘Delphi Critique’ Lexington Books, Boston, MA; Sumsion, T (1998) ‘The Delphi Technique’ British Journal of Occupational Therapy 61(4) pp 153-156; and Chuenjitwongsa, S (2006) ‘Conduct a Delphi Survey’ Wales Deanery, Cardiff University, CF14 4YS

[8] The full 19 Collaboration Research questions can be found here

[9] Kilroy, D and Driscoll, P (2006) ‘Determination of required anatomical knowledge for clinical practice in emergency medicine: National Curriculum using a modified Delphi Technique’ Emergency Medicine Journal 23(09) pp.693-696

[10] As above

[11] Bridges, W (1995 and revised 2003) ‘Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change’ Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, EC1R 4BQ