Over the past 40 years, a concern with the adoption of business methods to support successful design development has emerged. Design management as a discipline addresses such concern through two central schools of thought. The first focuses on organizing the design firm, and the second aims to better understand the design process (its nature, stages and activities) and to propose improved communication and coordination mechanisms. Both schools of thought have taken essentially a design professional’s perspective
to analyse design. Nevertheless, the recent adoption of procurement routes in which contractors are responsible for design, construction and facilities management has imposed on contractors the need to manage design to maintain competitiveness. This paper presents results from two case studies investigating the contractor’s role in managing the design process. Research results are presented in terms of the problems contractors face in managing design, the necessity for appropriate design management and the skills contractors believe are required for effective design management. The paper concludes by advocating a need for clarity in the definition of design management from a contractor’s perspective.