To insist or to concede? Contractors’ behavioural strategies when handling disputed claims

Lihan Zhang, Francis Fenn, Yongcheng Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse factors that affect contractors’ behavioural strategies in resolving disputed claims. Design/methodology/approach: Factors were explored by a literature review and an open-ended questionnaire survey. In total, 9 hypotheses involving 12 factors were developed accordingly. Then a structured questionnaire survey was conducted, and 248 valid questionnaires were received from Chinese contractors. Partial least squares structural equation modelling was employed to test the hypotheses. Findings: Factors that have the largest impacts on the contractual approach and the relational approach regarding obliging and compromising are favourability of evidence, time pressure and reputation, respectively. Unexpected results show that obliging behaviours are negatively correlated with procedural fairness but positively correlated with occurrence time of the dispute. Research limitations/implications: The results are based on correlation, although the research design improves the internal validity. Furthermore, this study belongs to single-level research. In the future, researchers can conduct multilevel research to enrich theories. Practical implications: The findings not only enhance practitioners’ understanding of the factors influencing contractors’ behavioural strategies when dealing with disputed claims, but also offer insights into both parties’ ex ante focus of attention on specific factors to facilitate the subsequent dispute resolution. Originality/value: This study furnishes a nuanced picture of multiple factors’ impacts on contractors’ behavioural strategies of claim-related dispute resolution, and thus supplements the relevant construction dispute management literature. From the perspective of contractual governance, it is one of those exploring drivers of contract application in problem situations. It extends the body of knowledge on this topic and hopefully will encourage more research on contractual governance from the reactive perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-443
Number of pages20
JournalEngineering Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number3
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Construction
  • Construction projects
  • Contractual approach
  • Disputed claims
  • Project management
  • Questionnaire survey
  • Relational approach


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