Highway maintenance: impact of framework agreements on contractor performance

Document Type

Journal Article

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Public sector, Contractor performance, Frameworks, Highway maintenance




Purpose: The construction industry in the UK has a history of client dissatisfaction. A potential solution for improvement is through use of a framework agreement, where long-term relationships between parties may focus upon performance. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether use of framework agreements for highway maintenance projects can result in significant improvement for performance when compared with engagement of contractors through traditional discrete methods.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A single-case study approach is used to investigate outcomes set within the context of a major county council in the UK. Quantitative data compiled from 164 civil engineering highway maintenance projects are separated into two groups – one represents those procured using traditional discrete methods and the other within a framework agreement.

Findings: Results from independent-samples t-tests identified significant improvements in overall performance and in time (finish on time), cost (payment accuracy) and quality (defects and health and safety) resulted from the framework agreements.

Research Limitations/Implications: The results of this study are derived from one unique and typical case, but they form a baseline upon which further research can build to test their significance in many other settings for construction and maintenance programme, especially in housing, education and highways. This research does not cover the impact of framework agreements on production and transaction costs which should be treated as a separate area for further research.

Practical Implications: Councils have a statutory duty to provide and maintain a wide range of local services and facilities, including transportation and road network. Conclusions from this study support use of framework agreements within a public sector environment, leading to improvement for contractor performance due to longer term relationship with clients. This in turn enhances quality of works and hence value for money from the councils’ highway budgets.

Originality/Value: Construction frameworks are a relatively new idea. Although a number of frameworks have been concluded, there is very little analysis regarding performance outcomes. This research tested and confirmed the validity of impact of this new approach on contractor performance.

Source Publication

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

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