Journal article Open Access
Samuel Kiilu Mbatha
Construction projects are predisposed to conflicts. This is attributed to the multiplicity of personnel handling the various phases of the projects. Empirical evidence from previous studies shows that if not properly managed, conflicts affect among others, the project's productivity loss, inadequate time and cost performance levels, loss of profit, and damage in business relations. Identifying the significant causes and major potential impacts of conflicts is crucial to reducing the risk of conflict occurrence in projects. Hence, this study was focused on explaining the classification of conflicts, identifying and assessing their causes and impacts in construction projects in Kenya grounded on the perception of project consultants and contractors. To accomplish the study objectives, a questionnaire was designed to collect data on the experiences of construction professionals on the causes and impacts of conflicts during project implementation. A total of 122 consultants and contractors provided responses, which were analyzed. A total of 42 significant causes of conflicts in the Kenyan context were identified. Based on the survey results, delay in progress payments by the client was identified as the most significant cause of conflicts, followed by poor site management and supervision. The survey also revealed that conflicts can emerge from any of the stakeholders, with contractors contributing the most, accounting for 14 of the 42 conflict factors identified. The study ranked the impacts of these conflicts using the Relative Severity Index (RSI). The results indicated that the biggest impact of conflicts on construction projects is the loss of profitability and perhaps business viability, and delays in project delivery. Expert opinions regarding the best practices and strategies for improving project harmony through effective conflict management were reviewed and grouped into five classes namely; project documentation, stakeholder involvement, value-based procurement, and adoption of ICT. It is concluded that the project manager should develop his leadership role by the adoption of these strategies so that he can use his position to effect positive conflict management on his team members. Furthermore, during the life cycle of the construction project, special attention should be given to the identified cause factors to avoid or effectively manage conflicts. These results, taken together, support clear guidelines on the need for proactive financial obligation on the client-side, as well as the hiring of experienced project professionals. Implementing these suggestions would reduce the risk of conflicts arising during building projects.