Skip to content

Hazards from procurement

Event organised by Hazards Forum

21 March 2018

This event has now ended

You can catch-up on details or any broadcast and downloads here.


In contracting work, different procurement approaches can incentivise different behaviours, which in turn strongly influence delivery performance in time, cost, quality and safety. But different situations and types of work benefit from different procurement methods: it is not one size fits all.

Where appropriate approaches are used, great work often follows, but in these cases the success is often unsung and the heroes stay under the radar. However, inappropriate approaches lead to relationships unravelling leading to sub-standard and sometimes disastrous results, both within the timeframe of the contract itself and for the quality of the legacy product. Poor quality as a legacy can undermine safety in the long term.

This Hazards Forum event will explore this paradigm from the three perspectives of experience, management research and behavioural science.

Stewart Macartney worked on the Independent Inquiry into the Oxgangs School collapse in Edinburgh in 2016. The revealed how contracting practices (affecting both design activity as well as on-site work and supervision) impacted the eventual product to the detriment of the public it was striving to serve. Stewart will present on the collapse itself and its immediate impacts, and draw out the lessons from which the Scottish industry has learned, and to which all will do well to pay heed.

Jon Gosling undertakes pioneering research into appropriate contracting. Whenever different parties exchange goods or services, he identifies that exchange hazards may occur, most usually in the form of opportunistic behaviours to maximise one party's gain to the detriment of everyone else.

The question is how to control the hazard, or even to play opportunism against itself for the greater good. His presentation will consider appropriate procurement choices and contracting processes to minimise exchange hazards, optimising the underlying incentivization mechanisms, conditions and overall relational climate for a project.

Alan Cheung is a leading figure in the application of behavioural science to achieve practical outcomes. Extending Jon's themes of contracting practice, Alan will examine how the operational climate that appropriate or inappropriate contracts create leads, entirely foreseeably, to the behaviours we see, which often affect worker safety as well as as-built quality.

He will explain why and how the actions of those in the procurement and office functions in firms have as much to do to to ensure good outcomes as those in the front line. His presentation will help us better appreciate how leaders and managers need to think, what they need to think about, their responsibilities, and what decisions and actions they should take.

The event will be chaired by Steve Rowsell, who will bring his lifetime of experience in major project procurement.

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi