Perceived Causes and Effects of Project Delays: A Study of Government Building Construction Projects in the Central Province of Sri Lanka


  • S. Gunawardena Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  • D. Hemachandra Department of Agricultural Economics and Business Management, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  • K.A.S.S. Kodithuwakkku Department of Agricultural Economics and Business Management, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka



The problem of delays in the construction industry is a global phenomenon, and Sri Lanka is no exception. The key objectives of this study are to identify and rank the factors that cause project delays in government construction projects and their effects as perceived by the three primary industry participants, namely the clients, consultants and contractors and assess the differences. A questionnaire survey was conducted to solicit the perceived causes and effects of project delays from clients, consultants and contractors responsible for government building construction projects in the Central province of Sri Lanka. Perceived delay factors of the said primary stakeholders were measured using a five-point Likert scale type statements. The causes and effects were ranked according to their Relative Importance Index (the product of Severity Index and Frequency Index). The Spearman Correlation method and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to test the difference in the perception among the three primary stakeholders. Data were collected from 32 consultants, 49 contractors and 16 clients. This study identified improper project management by the contractor as the leading cause of project delay. The other main causes in the ranked order are shortage of labour, financial problems of the clients, improper day work planning by contractor, delay in payment process, scope changes, delays in drawings submission, delays in approvals, financial difficulties of the contractor and lack of communication. The highest level of agreement on causes of project delays was observed between clients and contractors whereas the lowest level of agreement was observed between clients and consultants. The main perceived effects of project delays are cost overrun, poor quality of the work, disputes, arbitration, litigation and total abandonment. In relation to the effects of project delays, a high level of agreement was observed among clients, consultants and contractors. Each party had a positive correlation for both causes and effects of project delays with the other two parties, while contractors and clients showed the highest agreement on delays causes. There was a very high correlation for ranked effects between any two parties.

Keywords: Construction Projects, Delay Causes, Delay Effects, Clients, Contractors, Consultants, Correlational Analysis