Partnering is an arrangement that enables different parties to a construction project to work together and cooperate in undertaking the project. It involves setting up a partnering relationship among the parties, and perhaps formalising the arrangement in writing. The main contractor, subcontractors and any other consultants involved all work together for the ultimate benefit of the client whose project they are undertaking. The partnering approach has some disadvantages.
Considering that there are a number of parties involved in these partnering arrangements, there will inevitably need to be meetings to keep track of progress. This will take up time. This will also create a need to maintain records about the role of each party and how they are living up to the partnering arrangement. Given the complex nature of the construction industry, there will be many day-to-day issues for the partners to keep track of.
Even though partnering is supposed to lead to a smoother working relationship among the parties involved, this may not always be the case -- especially if there is any misunderstanding among the parties about their roles. That's why it's important to have a formalised approach to partnering arrangements, clearly spelling out each party's role. If there is a delay in how the contract proceeds, or if the project manager unearths a defect, it may be difficult to pin down responsibility.
There is a certain dependency set up among the parties to a partnering arrangement. They may have to share confidential information with the other parties, for instance. And if a partnering arrangement works, there is the risk that the parties will become too dependent on each other and not find other partners to work with. This sets up a possible problem in case something goes wrong with the partnering arrangement.
Another problem that could arise in a partnering arrangement is that the parties don't commit an equal amount of time and effort to a project. For instance, if a small contractor and a large contractor work together on a smaller project, the project may not be a major commitment for the large contractor. This means the large contractor may not devote as much effort to the initiative as the smaller one does. This unequal commitment could create problems for the partnering arrangement.