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The focus of the cost management literature is almost exclusively on technical issues, with scant attention to its social, political and organisational dimensions. In this paper the authors document research examining the design team as a temporary management structure, with emphasis on the efficacy of the cost management system as a vehicle for attaining client objectives with respect to time, cost and quality. Soft systems methodology is used to explore the perceptions of stakeholders to the cost management system, thus developing conceptual models of the theory and practice of cost management. Significant differences were found to exist between the perceptions of individual stakeholders concerning design team participants, participants’ roles, and the very purpose of the cost management system. Recommendations are made for structural, attitudinal and procedural changes to the cost management system in order to facilitate its effective functioning in the achievement of the client’s needs and objectives.
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