The future of construction procurement in the UK: a shift to service provision

Procurement is a process and observable phenomenon entwined both culturally, politically and practically into the fabric and history of the construction industry. Historical reviews have highlighted recent changes in procurement systems which reflect the developments within the industry as a whole. This development is argued to be influenced mainly by a myriad of inter-connected contextual drivers and issues both internal and external to the industry. Ability to adapt to change via a comprehensive understanding of these inter-connected issues is a prerequisite for the industry to better meet the requirements of the society and deliver added value to the customers. This paper reports on research findings which identify procurement issues and trends from past construction reports and uses these issues as a foundation on which to build future scenarios in the area of construction procurement. Future scenarios constructed by experts in the area of construction procurement are also presented. The scenarios depict two polarised paradigms, namely ‘free market’ and ‘intervention’, which will largely determine the future state of the industry. The scenario of health care provision suggests a developmental shift from infrastructure production to service provision, and highlights the importance placed upon delivering end user value. Future work will validate these plausible scenarios and develop an interactive simulation tool based on system dynamics (SD) principles to assist practitioner’s in their decision making.