International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Closing the contractual circle : investigating emergent subcontracting approaches Biancardo, Salvatore Antonio; Osmanbhoy, Natasha; Ottesen, Jeffrey L.; Migliaccio, Giovanni C.; Clevenger, Caroline


The Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry is shifting away from the traditional paradigm, one that places users, planners, designers, and contractors in different silos during professional practice. Other contractual schemes, which rely on contractual integration at lower contractual tiers, are emerging. These schemes close the contractual framework at lower tiers by having multiple upper-tier contractors subcontracting work to the same lower-tier entity. In these instances, subcontractors have contractual relationships with more than one other upper-tier party in the same project. A previous study on Building Information Modeling (BIM)-enabled projects revealed the emergence of these types of contractual relationships. To date, however little is known on these emergent approaches, their diffusion, criteria for adoption, or expected utilities. This research proposes a methodology to analyze the benefits of these emergent models, then applies this methodology to recent projects to quantify outcomes, and finally develops a holistic framework of integrated contracting to assess its impacts on project efficiency. The specific objective of this research is to identify and delineate new lower tier organizational relationships in today's construction practice. Preliminary results are included in the paper. Use of these emergent models for building contractors was assessed using a survey instrument. Data collection involved contractors in Washington State. After initial screening, several contractors were selected and interviewed regarding the nature of the adopted emergent subcontracting practices, the purpose for using them, and their perceived outcomes. This research contributes to a greater understanding of the occurrence, reasons, and advantages and disadvantages of these emergent contractual schemes. A discussion of their impact on overall project performance is included.

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