There is a shift from conformance approaches of construction projects to excellence in terms of real performance. One of the major goals of today’s project is to achieve the highest level of quality rather than just meet the specified level of quality. In Sweden, approximately 25 years ago, major construction contractors replaced the traditional client/owner control system of public finance construction projects with quality assurance systems managed by the contractors themselves. Anecdotal evidence exist that shows that the quality of infrastructure projects may not be as high as before due to many different reasons, including low productivity and incentive problems. However, thorough formal investigations that evaluate the effectiveness of the quality assurance transfer have not been carried out.
The main purpose of this paper is to understand the extent and type of quality problems in infrastructure projects as a foundation for studies about what can be done to improve quality. It aims to explore the extent of any perceived quality problems that could be associated with quality assurance transfer. The type of research question issues that this paper intends to address is very complex in terms of describing what constitutes quality and what people remember about projects that they might or might not have been involved in many years ago. This entails the use of different types of research processes and approaches such as realistic research, descriptive and exploratory questionnaire as well as explanatory studies that would not only allow us to ascertain the overall quality level of infrastructure transport projects. However, it also gives us some indication of those specific concerns needed for further investigation.
The results of our survey suggest that there has not been a deterioration of the (relative) quality level of infrastructure projects after the transfer of quality assurance from client to contractor. However, the expectation that the transfer would improve the quality level does not seem to be fully materialized since almost half of the respondents suggest that the quality level remained the same as before the transfer. The lesson drawn from this is that the question of what really happened to quality and why is less important than finding ways to improve quality in the future.
Infrastructure projects, quality improvement, quality insurance, quality concepts