Contracting for Collaboration in Construction

David Willis1 & Thais da C. L. Alves2

1Former graduate student, Department of Civil, Constr. & Env. Eng., San Diego State University, [email protected]
2Associate Professor, J.R. Filanc Construction Engineering and Management Program, Department of Civil, Constr. & Env. Eng., San Diego State University, [email protected]


Construction contracts represent instruments that bind project participants together to deliver a project. The industry still uses delivery methods and related contracts that are more traditional in nature, e.g., design-bid-build (DBB), and promote a sequential design and construction process, which allows for little to no collaboration between project participants. Over the past 25 years, more collaborative delivery methods (e.g., Design-Build) have gained more adopters, and been touted as the solution to problems of the construction industry. The promotion of more collaborative environments stands front and center as a solution to the industry problems by promoting, via contractual terms, collaborative behaviors and processes. This study investigates the language of construction contracts by identifying keywords commonly associated with collaboration and comparing the incidence of these keywords in contracts for different delivery methods. Results indicate that DBB contracts have few to no mentions of collaborative words, standing to no surprise that DBB environments are less collaborative in nature. In contrast, Integrated Project Delivery contracts not only use keywords associated with collaboration, but actually employ them in clauses to promote collaborative behaviors and environments.


Contracts, collaboration, language, delivery systems.



Willis, D. & Alves, T. C. L. 2019, 'Contracting for Collaboration in Construction' In:, Proc. 27th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Dublin, Ireland, 3-5 Jul 2019. pp 809-818

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