Relationship conflict in construction management: Performance and productivity problem

James S. Vaux, W. Max Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Performance and productivity in construction management are essential for schedule and profit considerations, but are often diminished by conflict. Task conflict provides incentive for decisions and innovative solutions, whereas interpersonal conflict, also referred to as relationship conflict, is detrimental to performance and productivity because it affects schedules, cognition and collaboration efforts, and the morale of the team. This qualitative study investigates how relationship conflict affects performance and productivity among construction management professionals. Interviews were conducted in 18 construction firms with 25 construction management professionals, including project executives, senior project managers, project managers, and superintendents. The goal is to understand the antecedents and consequences of relationship conflict within construction management, and discover methods used to mitigate these effects. Key antecedents producing relationship conflict are lack of communication, old-school attitude, and lump-sum contracts. The key individuals generating relationship conflict are the owner or owner's representative, subcontractors, and superintendents. Consequences of relationship conflict include schedule delays, lowered morale and motivation, and reduced profit, whereas mitigating factors are good communication and trust building

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1478
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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