Dutch architectural design tenders explained from a sensemaking perspective

Leentje Volker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the context of architect selection for building projects, procurement law assumes the process of decision making as rational. Therefore public commissioning clients have to announce the decision criteria and procedures up front in order to comply with the procurement principles of transparency, equal treatment, objectivity and proportionality. However, observations, interviews, and document analysis in four case studies of Dutch architect selections by public commissioning clients showed that rational processes provide merely the structure for a process more aptly characterized as sensemaking. In this respect the rationality of the legal requirements clash with the psychological rationality of decision making. This makes it for decision makers almost impossible to design a selection procedure and announce the criteria and weighing factors up front. In this paper fifteen recommendations for architect selection processes are proposed that will prevent further conflict of rationalities and support clients in organizing tenders for the selection of architects. These recommendations relate to the structure of future design tenders and are based on five sensemaking aspects of the procurement process that underlie this interplay of rationalities: reading the decision task, searching for a match, writing the decision process, aggregating value judgements and justifying the decision.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2010 - Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event26th Annual ARCOM Conference 2010 - Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sep 20108 Sep 2010
Conference number: 26


Conference26th Annual ARCOM Conference 2010
Abbreviated titleARCOM 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Architecture
  • Client
  • Decision making
  • Procurement
  • Sensemaking


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