Mistrust between clients and contractors still acts as an obstacle to partnering agreements, according to a RICS report.

The report, published this week, claimed that this is a barrier on both sides of the client–contractor divide. It argued that support for full partnership remains limited, despite attempts to move away from an adversarial culture.

The report noted that part of the problem arose from contractors expecting parity with their clients.

It said: “The claim that partners should be equal is perhaps overly optimistic. From the perspective of clients, it is evident that their buyer dominance is the most advantageous position for them to be in and they have little intention of shifting.”

The report acknowledged that partnering is not an all-embracing solution to improving the industry’s business relationships. However, it indicated that the practice could improve in future with fresh blood entering the industry. It said: “There is anticipation that the process may become easier as the industry becomes replenished with new recruits untainted by years of discord.”

The research found that, although partnering could offer significant benefits in terms of cost and time compared with traditional business methods, the claims made in favour of the method were not universally justified. It claimed that the realisation of the method’s potential was heavily dependent on the nature of the work and the basis of the agreement between the parties.

It said: “There is a need for a pluralistic approach to partnering, which acknowledges the parties involved may have very different aims in mind and be approaching the partnership from very different perspectives.”