Beyond Partnering: Toward a New Approach to Project Management?

Greg Howell1, Robert Miles2, Charlie Fehlig3 & Glenn Ballard4

1Associate Professor University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131
2Mechanical Technology Coordinator & Corporate Senior Advisor,, Industrial Design Corporation ((IIDC)),, 2020 SW 4th Ave,, 3rd Floor,, Portland OR 97201.
3Captain USN,, Officer In Charge of Consstruction,, Portsmouth Naval Hospital Portsmouth VA
4Ballard Management Services,, 4536 Fieldbrook,, Oakland,, CA 94619.


Partnering is a programmatic Band--Aid on the current construction management system. Claims caused by fundamental weaknesses in this system gave rise to partnering. These weaknesses are particularly apparent on today’s complex uncertain and quick projects. Partnering exposes and partially fills a gap in current practice but has had little impact on underlying mental models, the management off production or commercial contracting. Moving beyond partnering means challenging and revising current thinking and practice. This paper proposes that the construction process must be reconceived from the purchase of a product to a prototyping process. Changing the underlying mental model makes possible new approaches to managing production from concept through completion. In turn these approaches to approaches will suggest new ways to contract. Disputes will not vanish as they will remain an inevitable consequence of innovation but the frequency of commercial conflicts may be reduced. The paper argues that partnering is an attempt to install important aspects of the prototyping model into the current product purchase model. Examples drawn from practices show the limits of current practices. They suggest a shift away form the primary focus on disputes arising in commercial contracting to the management of a concurrent design and construction process. Early examples of these trends are discussed and the workshop responses from industry representatives are reported. The paper closes with suggestion for future trends and a suggestion that Partnering be viewed as one of many programmatic efforts working to reform construction management.




Howell, G. , Miles, R. , Fehlig, C. & Ballard, G. 1996. Beyond Partnering: Toward a New Approach to Project Management?, 4th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -.

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