Generating opportunities for SMEs to develop partnerships and improve performance

C. L. Davey, D. J. Lowe, A. R. Duff

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This research aimed to generate opportunities for UK construction companies, particularly contractors and consultancies with 50 to 150 employees to improve relationships with clients and to increase effectiveness through the exploitation of communication procedures and technologies. The research team used an action learning approach to work with managers from construction companies and housing associations to design and deliver support mechanisms, such as industry workshops, specific to the needs of SMEs. Analysis of the results showed how, as a result of interacting with other groups within a non-adversarial environment and benefiting from the process, partnering and performance improvement came to be seen as both desirable and possible. The trust and confidence generated from working together successfully also led construction SMEs to share good practice with others from the industry, including local competitors. The authors propose that SMEs should be treated as 'leaders' and 'full partners' within the programme for UK industry improvement being championed by Sir John Egan (1998), rather than simply recipients. It is also suggested that governments provide further support to ensure participation from small and micro firms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages10
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Action learning
  • Action research
  • Communication
  • Culture change
  • Industry improvement
  • Non-adversarial
  • Partnering
  • SMEs
  • UK


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