The Delphi technique as a tool for quality research in the built environment

Edoghogho Ogbeifun, Jan Harm C. Pretorius

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The quality of data, sources and the tool(s) used for data collection are central in the discussion on validity and reliability of any research exercise. The Delphi technique is increasingly being used as a reliable research tool in engineering and built environment studies. The strength of the technique hinges on the quality of the participants, anonymity of participants’ contributions and results being refined through series of iterations. In a Delphi exercise, the participants are purposively selected knowledgeable persons in the area of the research, not limited by geographical location and willing to go through repetitive cycles of the exercise. The participants can be limited in number or as large a group as possible. The technique is flexible; it can be used as a stand-alone tool or used in combination with other tools such as focus group sessions. It can be used at the beginning to kick start a research process or at the end of the process to fine-tune results from other research methods. Consensus is reached through the continuous recycling of results among participants until equilibrium of opinion is achieved. This can be achieved in few or many rounds of successive iterations. The controlled feedbacks allow participants to view their individual submissions in the light of the whole group, which usually result in the adjustment of individual's opinions without coercion. This technique has been used in many successful cases study research, two being reported in this chapter. Firstly, it was used for developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring the performance of the operations of the Facilities Management unit in a higher educational institution. Secondly, it was used in a pilot study aimed at exploring the factors responsible for the delays in the execution of construction projects funded by a government agent. Both exercises went through three rounds of successive iterations before equilibrium was reached.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationValidity and Reliability in Built Environment Research
Subtitle of host publicationA Selection of Case Studies
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429512940
ISBN (Print)9780367197766
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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