WIT Press

Managing Expectations Of BIM Product Quality: A ‘lemon Market’ Theory View


Free (open access)





Page Range

253 - 264




286 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


C. Merschbrock, C. Nordahl-Rolfsen


There is an increasing uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. At the same time, it is evident that many firms struggle to work based on the new technology and that only few highly IT-literate firms succeed in reaping BIM’s benefits. Thus, for many firms, BIM systems adoption ends in disillusion as to what can be achieved by using the technology. What complicates matters is that BIM’s are only found dysfunctional after having been in organizational use. Thus, BIM’s value for an organization is hard to distinguish before purchase. This article proposes, based on Akerlof’s (1970) theory of the “lemon market”, a conceptual model explicating factors affecting buyers’ initial quality expectations in BIM software purchase. Our findings are derived from data on a construction project executed by a Norwegian timber-frame construction company having heavily invested in computer numerical controlled (CNC) production machinery and BIM systems. This work is important to manage organizational expectations related to the initial adoption of BIM. Moreover, it highlights that construction firms’ trust in vendors claimed product quality, IT-literacy, and experience matter when purchasing BIM software. Taken together, our results suggest that quality uncertainty related to BIM purchase can lead companies into financial turmoil. Especially small and medium sized contractors appear to be exposed to information asymmetry when purchasing BIM software.


decision making, lemon market theory, BIM, software purchase, information asymmetry