Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Thesis presented as partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Business Administration degree awarded by Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University.


The role and usefulness of strategic planning has been well documented over several decades of strategic management research. Despite the significant body of existing knowledge in the field of strategic planning, there remains a paucity of investigation into the construction sector, specifically in Professional Service Firms (PSF’s) operating within it. The aim of this research was to ascertain the type, scope and extent of strategic planning within Irish Quantity Surveying (QS) practices and to ascertain the extent to which such processes correspond to strategic planning literature.

This research was an exploratory study, undertaken in two phases in line with mixed methods employed for undertaking the study. The first, qualitative, phase involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with the principals of eleven QS practices of varying size. The second, quantitative phase, involved a widespread survey of every QS practice registered with the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCS) in Ireland, for which a response rate of over 40% was achieved.

The findings discover that the type, scope and extent of strategic planning within Irish QS practices vary with practice size and ownership structure. Distinct groups of practices are evident based on a number of strategic planning process characteristics, including formality, approach, participation, flow and planning horizon. Despite the absence of a systematic or formal process within smaller QS practices, it is clear that principals are thinking and acting strategically. These practices broadly follow strategic planning processes advocated in the literature, are mostly unaware that this is the case; however confirm that a more systematic strategic planning process is beginning to emerge, particularly in light of the severity of the current economic and construction industry downturn in Ireland.

The findings of the research provide an important contribution towards addressing the significant gap in existing knowledge in this regard. The conclusions drawn are specific to the QS profession, the research has been designed such that it has potential to be applied to other PSF’s within and outside the construction industry.

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