Developing a Performance Index to Measure Soft Skills on Construction Projects: a Delphi Study

  • Michael Anthony Parker

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business Administration


[Doctor of Business Administration] Recent research suggests that project teams need to become more socially aware, particularly in how project professionals interact with one another, and that soft skills need to be assessed in the same way that the traditional ‘iron triangle’ of cost, time and quality are. At present they are either not measured at all or at best very poorly, despite being recognised for how important they are to project success.

Four relevant theories were reviewed to identify where this research could make a contribution to each of them. In professional practice, the development of a soft skills performance measurement index would allow professional bodies to formally acknowledge the importance of soft skills measurement in their technical guidance for becoming professionally qualified.

The research has a social constructionist ontology and primarily adopted an interpretivist epistemology. The methodology used a multi-phase mixed methods approach using the consensus-building research technique, the Delphi Method, collecting both qualitative and quantitative data in iterations. This approach enabled five soft skills (termed the ‘performance pentagon’) and a composite performance index (CPI) for construction projects to be derived. Mitigating actions were taken to keep participants engaged in each iteration, following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The synthesis and modification of existing theories led to the phenomenon of measured goal interest (MGI), an original contribution to the academic literature on the subject, the term “measured goal interest” never having been used previously. The fact that both a major client and major consultancy in the UK construction sector have since permanently adopted the ‘performance pentagon’ soft skills within their own performance measurement models shows how successful this study has already been in making a contribution to professional practice.

Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Butler (Supervisor), Ben Clegg (Supervisor) & Prasanta Dey (Supervisor)


  • performance management
  • Delphi Method
  • composit performance index
  • measured goal interest
  • performance pentagon

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