Construction industry observers tout the use of financial incentives as promoters of motivation and commitment on projects. Yet, little empirical evidence exists concerning their effectiveness. What are the drivers of motivation on construction projects? The reasons that construction project participants are motivated to pursue voluntary incentive goals are examined through four Australian case studies. The results demonstrate the critical role played by project relationships and equitable contract conditions in promoting the effectiveness of financial incentives. In the context of a construction project, this study finds financial incentives to be less important to motivation and performance than relationship enhancement initiatives. This finding is unexpected and has implications for the design of project procurement strategies. These results suggest that if project clients ignore the importance of relationship quality between participants, the impact of any financial incentive will be compromised. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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