Designers' performance evaluation in construction projects

Sami Kärnä*, Juha Matti Junnonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - In a construction project, "participants' satisfaction" is one of the main dimensions used for measuring the successfulness of a project. Designers perform a major role in attaining the project goals and managing project complexity during production. The purpose of this paper is to examine the designers' performance as evaluated by the main participants: the client, the project consultant/manager and the main contractor, and to identify the main success factors of designer performance using the participants' evaluation. The study also aims to examine how the economic size of a project affects the project participants' assessment of the designer's performance. It is assumed that as the size of a project increases, so does the complexity of the project, which will affect the scope of work and demands on the designers' operational performance for the specific project level. Design/methodology/approach - The Finnish project evaluation and benchmark database was used in this study as empirical data. The quantitative data consists of surveys on the project level and are based on a multi-dimensional standard evaluation wherein the main participants evaluate each other's performances. The client, project consultant and main contractor evaluated the designer's performance. The data of the study consisted of a total of 892 evaluations. ANOVA analysis was used to examine the differences between the project participants' assessments based upon the different economic sizes of the projects. Findings - Contractors were satisfied with the designers' performance in small projects, whereas the client and the project consultant/manager rated the designers' performance most successful in large projects. This result may be due to small projects are typically simple and less complex, in which case design solutions are generally well-defined. Nonetheless, the participants' level of satisfaction follows the same factors. The main problems in the designers' performance were related to the design content: the flawlessness and comprehensiveness, as well as the compatibility and consistency of designs. These factors were emphasized particularly in the client's low satisfaction of the designer's performance. However, project participants were satisfied with the collaboration with designers; however, room for improvement could be found in internal communication and collaboration within the design teams. The findings illustrated that the assessment of the success rate of a project was party-specific, which was clearly affected by the size of the project, as large projects appeared to be more complex than smaller ones. Practical implications - The findings suggested that there is a need to develop project-specific practices in managing multidisciplinary design teams. Additionally, particularly in large projects, designers should focus more on solving problems and design requirements occurring at the construction site. However, this should be implemented in such a way that this does not interfere with the design activities conducted with the client and project management. While client satisfaction is low in the small projects, designers should focus more on customer-oriented methods to serve client needs better. Originality/value - In construction project management studies, there is a need to measure the importance that various participants assign to different success factors. Since project success factors depend on project type, a more project-specific approach is suggested to identify the main parameters for measuring project success. This study provides a holistic approach of the designers' performance, which contributes to the theory of project success and designers' performance improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-169
Number of pages16
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Critical success factors
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Design management
  • Performance measures
  • Project management
  • Project participants satisfaction

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