• client;
  • decision-making;
  • objective;
  • paradigm;
  • perspective;
  • satisfaction

This paper explains how the capital proposals of large experienced clients of the UK construction industry are influenced by paradigms and perspectives. It shows how those involved in the decision-to-build process react to stimuli caused by a need to demonstrate objective decision-making. The paper is taken from a 5-year PhD study undertaken by the first author, which investigated the origins of the decision to build undertaken by leading clients. The clients sampled had a total annual construction budget of between £700 million and £1000 million in the year that data were collected. The product of the research was an explanation of what happens in the pre-project stage, why it happens, and why it will change in the future. The significance of its conclusions is that any system designed to model or improve decision-making in the pre-project stage must be capable of adaptation and modification as influences and considerations shift. Moreover, the need to justify decisions as ‘objective’ empowers paradigms and perspectives that act as conditioning influences on the people making or shaping proposals. The paper concludes by showing that an understanding of the role played by paradigms and perspectives could allow management to ‘rethink construction’ and meet the challenges put forward by Sir John Egan (The Egan Report: Rethinking Construction, DETR, 1998).