Integrated project delivery as an enabler for collaboration: a Middle East perspective

Farook Hamzeh (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Farid Rached (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Youssef Hraoui (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Antoine Joseph Karam (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Zeina Malaeb (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Mounir El Asmar (School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Yara Abbas (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 13 February 2019

Issue publication date: 5 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigates the extent to which the popular forms of contract adopted in the Middle East (ME) address collaboration. The purpose of this paper is to assess how collaboration features weaved into the construct of integrated project delivery (IPD) may impact projects in the ME. In this context, the study identifies features in IPD and existing delivery methods that may enable or inhibit collaboration and evaluates their impact on project success from the perspective of various contract managers in the ME.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employs structured face-to-face interviews with 41 construction industry practitioners in top contract management positions in the ME to evaluate the significance of collaboration features in IPD. Data collected from the structured interviews/surveys were analyzed using statistical tools in R and Excel.

Findings

Results reveal that while experts recognize the collaboration benefits which IPD features may contribute to a project, the current contractual environment of the industry does not optimally encompass these features. The current status of project delivery does not favor IPD implementation nor does it enable its collaborative features.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the growing international body of knowledge addressing the application of collaborative contracts in construction projects, and it is innovative in evaluating collaboration features within IPD and exiting project deliveries in the ME.

Keywords

Citation

Hamzeh, F., Rached, F., Hraoui, Y., Karam, A.J., Malaeb, Z., El Asmar, M. and Abbas, Y. (2019), "Integrated project delivery as an enabler for collaboration: a Middle East perspective", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 334-347. https://doi.org/10.1108/BEPAM-05-2018-0084

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited


1. Introduction

The delivery method adopted on a construction project impacts the distribution of risks and responsibilities among the different project stakeholders, the timing of their engagement and the nature of their relationships. A variety of project delivery methods have been employed in the construction industry, the most popular being the “traditional” design-bid-build (DBB) method. However, over the years, numerous completed projects utilizing the aforesaid procurement routes have not delivered the intended value expected by the owner (Lichtig, 2006). Researchers often attribute this poor performance to the lack of integration within the project delivery system, referred to as “segmental” project design and delivery, which manifests in a lack of coordination and collaboration, poor communication and reduced trust and teamwork (Harper et al., 2016; Mesa et al., 2016). Therefore, alternative delivery systems have evolved to cater for these deficiencies.

Integrated project delivery (IPD) is one such alternative project delivery approach that integrates project teams, business structures, operating systems and practices into a process that promotes innovation. It differs from traditional delivery approaches by integrating principles such as early collaboration, trust-building, teamwork, collective risk management and profit sharing throughout the project life cycle (AIA National and AIA California Council, 2007). IPD, and its relational type of contractual agreement, offers an alternative that addresses several deficiencies found in the traditional approach. For instance, projects employing IPD are found to substantially increase productivity and reduce waste, thus offering better performance and increasing value for involved owners, contractors, and designers (AIA National and AIA California Council, 2007).

Collaborative procurement approaches have been gaining momentum in several developed countries around the world due to their advantages for all project stakeholders and their effect on project performance. Examples include IPD in the USA, Project Alliancing in Australia and other forms of partnering approaches in the UK. In the Middle East (ME), where construction is expected to boom in the next 20 years, and where more than $1 trillion are to be spent on construction projects by 2030 (Kirk et al., 2013), reliance is still on traditional project delivery approaches. Although the ME is experiencing unprecedented levels of construction development, IPD remains an intriguing new approach that has not yet been fully applied on ME construction projects. Hence, it can be argued that the ME construction industry would greatly benefit from collaborative approaches such as IPD to improve construction project delivery.

In spite of the above, research in the ME has not focused on studying collaborative procurement routes in general, or IPD in specific, within the ME construction setting. Recalling the potential advantages that could be brought about by this implementation, there is a need to examine and survey the ME construction industry, both in terms of its familiarity with collaboration concepts on construction projects, and in terms of the extent of collaboration brought forth by the popular forms of contract currently adopted in the ME. This paper addresses this need by first identifying critical IPD collaboration features that contribute to project success and then evaluating their significance from the perspectives of 41 construction industry practitioners in top contract management positions in the ME. In addition, the paper investigates the extent to which the popular forms of contract adopted in the ME address collaboration features. The overall goal is to examine the contractual setting in the ME and explore the extent of adopting IPD cooperation principles. This study contributes to the growing international body of knowledge addressing the application of collaborative contracts. The results of this study will be useful for project and contract managers when considering future implementation plans for IPD, developing more collaborative processes, customizing existing contractual agreements to imbed more collaboration and establishing training programs that address collaboration and team integration.

The paper is organized in six sections. Section 1 introduced the topic. Section 2 presents a review of the literature on IPD, an overview of the ME construction industry and the point of departure of this research. Next, the adopted research methodology is explained in Section 3. Section 4 presents and analyzes the survey results. Section 5 comprises a discussion of the results in reference to existing knowledge. Finally, Section 6 presents the conclusion and the recommendations of this research.

2. Literature review

2.1 IPD: overview, features and adoption

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines IPD as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction” (AIA National and AIA California Council, 2007). The core foundation of IPD, as its name suggests, is integration or collaboration between the different participants involved in a project. In order for efficient collaboration to take place, the project delivery system must encompass several core features, including:

  1. Alignment of interests and objectives among the project parties in line with the overall project objectives (Mesa et al., 2016).

  2. Early collaboration during design where the owner, architect, contractor, subcontractors, consultants and suppliers provide their expertise early in the project to drive innovation and improve performance (AIA, 2007).

  3. Pain-share/gain-share agreements, leading to the elimination of adversarial relationships. Through these, the different trades are compensated for their work based on a principle that rewards them together according to the ultimate benefit of the project (Winstanley, 2011). A properly modeled risk and reward strategy is essential to ensure that the parties collaborate both when the project is within or above the target cost (Pishdad-Bozorgi and Srivastava, 2018).

  4. Trust and respect between parties and a “no-blame” culture within the project.

  5. High levels of teamwork, communication and collaboration, where knowledge and information is openly shared and exchanged (Mesa et al., 2016).

  6. Integrated decision making, where project decisions are collectively made by the different stakeholders on a project (AIA National and AIA California Council, 2007). All suggestions are taken into account and main decisions are made through general consensus (Winstanley, 2011). This increases the level of involvement and the feeling of responsibility of the participants, and creates a sense of association with the project itself.

  7. The employment of a collaborative planning system, such as the “Last Planner System,” for production planning and control. This assists projects in smoothing variability in construction work flow, reducing uncertainty in construction operations, developing planning foresight and encouraging proactive behavior to remove constraints (Hamzeh et al., 2015).

  8. Processes and tools that encourage cooperation, for example, building information modeling (BIM). BIM is a collaborative design sharing platform that helps facilitate the transfer of information and knowledge between trades, enhance communication and cooperation, and reduce the amount of misunderstandings and errors (AIA National and AIA California Council, 2007). A multitude of other systems exist and are still evolving. A dedicated collaboration platform for IPD projects has recently been developed by Ma et al. (2018) and aims at facilitating IPD implementation, reducing resource-consuming obstacles, and maximizing the efficiency of project stakeholder collaboration.

2.2 Overview of the ME construction industry

The governing project delivery approach in the ME is the DBB route, whereby a contractor constructs the facility in accordance with a design package provided to the client by the architecture and engineering consultants. In comparing DBB delivery to IPD, various underlying principles, which enable the implementation of IPD, are found to be missing in the former. Hence, the absence of these principles in the ME may render IPD less applicable.

The most prevalent form of contracts in the ME is the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) family of contracts, which has been widely used since the 1970s. The FIDIC RED Book, promoting the traditional DBB delivery approach, is the most used type of FIDIC contract in the ME region (Webster, 2009). Researchers report that FIDIC contracts seem to present some inconveniences. First, they are transactional and rigid when compared to IPD’s relational-type contracts (Matthews and Howell, 2005). In addition, they do not provide enough collaborative tools that enhance teamwork (Wilkinson, 2012), and barely engage the contractor in decisions related to design that may later impact construction (Watson, 2001). In fact, the results of a study by Alves and Shah (2018) on contract language indicate that traditional contracts, as opposed to IPD type contracts, are lacking terms related to collaboration and are mostly drafted around compliance. Furthermore, the presence of some biased clauses favoring the owner may compromise the contractor’s position.

2.3 Problem statement and point of departure

As previously discussed, the DBB approach is the most common in the ME. At the same time, it is widely known that several projects fall short of meeting the owner’s expectations (Lichtig, 2006). Researchers suggest that more collaborative contracts can significantly improve performance (Singleton and Hamzeh 2011; Mesa et al., 2016; El Asmar et al., 2016). IPD, and its relational type of contract, is an alternative that could cover deficiencies in the traditional DBB approach widely used in the ME region. Despite the numerous advantages of IPD, there are no signs of its implementation in the ME today and no studies to assess its implementation challenges. Moreover, as construction project stakeholders in other developing parts of the world have confirmed their willingness to implement IPD as a comprehensive project delivery approach (Osman et al., 2017), it is noteworthy to study the perceptions of ME construction practitioners on the topic. This study is innovative in identifying IPD features that contribute to project success, evaluating their significance from the perspectives of ME construction industry practitioners, and investigating the extent to which the popular forms of contract adopted in the ME address collaboration features.

3. Research methodology

To achieve this study’s purpose, a four-step research methodology is devised. The first step consists of performing a review of the literature addressing collaborative delivery methods, specifically focusing on IPD. Moreover, the IPD and FIDIC features that contribute to collaboration are identified from the existing literature. These are the basis for developing the various category items used in the survey as shown in the first column of Table II. The second step is the process of identifying survey participants, preparing the survey and pilot testing. The third involves collecting data through face-to-face interviews. The fourth step comprises data analysis and evaluation.

The main method employed in this study is descriptive surveys where non-probabilistic sampling is typically used and where the chief purpose is to asses a particular phenomenon. Descriptive surveys aim at collecting facts, describing and tallying. Research outcomes are usually presented using descriptive statistics more than inferential statistics (Tanner, 2018).

As randomized sampling is unsuitable for this study, since the application of IPD in the ME is not common, the method used is purposive sampling (Babbie, 2010). Utilizing the latter, the authors selected 30 organizations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Lebanon for the study since the first two countries have, respectively, the second and third highest GDP in the ME and will host major international events that require heavy investment in construction such as Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022.

In total, 30 organizations with local/regional/international prominence were selected from a list of ten top organizations in each country representing various domains such as contracting, architectural, engineering, consulting, project management and owner organizations. In total, 20 of the selected companies operate in the UAE, 14 in Qatar and 14 in Lebanon. The selected companies and have a wider exposure to various project delivery methods as compared to small firms with only local relevance. Since answering online or phone surveys are not popular in the ME, the authors contacted the contract managers of the selected companies to schedule an interview session after getting approval from top management. The contract managers are proficient with various types of contracts and delivery methods.

The descriptive survey method was administered in structured face-to-face interviews as this format promises a have a high degree of reliability, high level of item response rate, the ability of an interviewer to explain complex questions and mitigate inappropriate responses and allows for a powerful source of formative assessment (Phellas et al., 2011).

The interviews addressed 41 professionals from the industry, the distribution of the participants is summarized in Table I. It illustrates the nature of the organization, their level of experience, software experience, experience with project delivery approaches and experience with different forms of contracts. The participants have construction experience in various other countries including: Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the USA and the UK.

The participants are well acquainted with the delivery of projects using the traditional approach, also known as DBB, as 93 percent of the participants have worked under this approach. This indicates that their feedback gives an appropriate image of the traditional approach and its limitations. The participants are also well experienced with the RED Book of FIDIC (1987 and 1999 versions), as shown in Table I, a perfect mascot of the traditional method. Additionally, they have an experience in different types of contractual deliveries and can offer comparative feedback. They also have good experience in various 2D and 3D Software in design and construction which enables them to give feedback on the role of these softwares in promoting collaboration and meeting project goals.

The structured survey is divided into three sections. Section 1 addresses general aspects about the respondent (e.g. experience, position, etc.), the company, and types of project delivery. Section 2 investigates criteria that may contribute to a successful project as per the respondents’ experience and the relationship of stakeholders on a project. Entries in this section are inspired from literature on IPD and collaboration, including: AIA National and AIA California Council (2007), El Asmar et al. (2016), Lichtig (2006), Mesa et al. (2016) and Winstanley (2011). Section 3 addresses the use of FIDIC contracts in the ME construction industry. Section 3 questions were developed by the authors based on literature results including: Matthews and Howell (2005), Watson (2001), Webster (2009) and Wilkinson (2012).

Each section encompasses several questions that address factors that may contribute to project’s success in meeting its objectives. Once survey development was complete, the survey was pilot tested with specialists and non-specialists to insure internal and face validity as advocated by Tanner (2018).

Data from the structured surveys (41 interviews) were collected using a five-point Likert scale. The participants were asked to rate each factor according to how much it contributes to the success of the project using the following 1 to 5 scale: 1 = not effective, 2 = slightly effective, 3 = neutral, 4 = effective, 5 = very effective.

The study poses some limitations related to possible bias in respondents’ feedback and the non-generalizable nature of the results due to employing non-probabilistic sampling methods. The authors are not claiming generalizability beyond the sampled participants.

4. Survey results and analysis

Data collected from structured surveys, conducted over a period of more than 12 months, were analyzed using statistical tools in R and Excel. Responses were divided into the three survey categories: general aspects, IPD and traditional principles and FIDIC contracts. The results are summarized in Table II, divided over ten columns. Column 1 shows the items in each category, while columns 2 and 3 highlight the mean (µ) and the standard deviation (α) for each item in the survey (n=41), respectively. Moreover, column 4 shows the one-sample t-test results for the items in each category compared to the test value of 3, which is the neutral answer on the Likert scale. Columns 5, 7 and 9 show the difference in means between the Architects/Engineers (A/E’s) and the General Contractors (GC), between the A/E’s and Client Representatives/Project Managers (CRPM’s) and between GC’s and CRPM’s, respectively. Columns 6, 8 and 10 present the p-values for the comparison between each two categories to show differences in assessment. When the difference between two categories is statistically significant, the results are shown in italic.

4.1 Successful project criteria and stakeholders’ relationships

Analyzing data from the “successful project criteria and stakeholders’ relationship of” category summarized in Table II, reveals many interesting angles governing the relationship among project parties.

Collaboration across project phases

Items 1, 2 and 3 depict the respondents’ rating of the impact of collaboration between the project parties during pre-design, design and construction phases (respectively) on project’s success, as shown in Figure 1. The means for the three items are 3.39. 4.15 and 4.51, respectively. This confirms the respondents’ confidence in collaboration between the owner, architect and engineer (A/E), contractor, and subcontractors as a major factor that would positively impact the project’s outcome at any phase. The three results are statistically significant at the 90 percent level.

Survey participants rated the impact of collaboration during design fairly well (mean =4.15). This can be attributed to the participants’ previous experience with this type of collaboration, since 39 percent of the respondents have previously worked on design-build (DB) projects. This result also explains their positive view on the impact of design collaboration. However, the highest rating was given for collaboration during construction. This may be traced back to the contractors’ and subcontractors’ experience in interaction and coordination with the A/E during the construction phase which is indispensable in the traditional delivery approach. In fact, this is the only time where substantial interaction is allowed between project parties, as this coordination is usually limited to specific aspects of constructability. Although the contractor’s influence on design at the construction stage is not significant, the participants still perceive that the minor design changes allowed during construction (subject to the owner’s approval) could greatly facilitate the contractor’s job.

Technology for producing/sharing documents

When asked about which technology can be used to produce/share design and construction documents (item 4), the participants selected 3D/4D modeling as the best choice where all input is shared and integrated into a common platform, as shown in Figure 1. Participants gave it a rate of 4.37, which is also statistically significant. As for sharing 2D drawings, the participants stated that this is the trend in the region, and they have been using this process for more than 20 years. In the traditional approach, these files are first prepared by the A/E with the supervision of the client. They are then passed to the bidding contractors during tender. Back and forth exchange of such files between parties increases after the contract award. Even though parties coordinate with each other, each entity prepares its own set of files separately. Although design in 3D environments using the BIM technology is starting to emerge in the region, 2D deliverables still present themselves as a widely accepted means to produce and share design drawings. However, participants do not consider this process as greatly adding value to the success of the project, as reflected in the neutral result of 3.02 given to item 5 “exchanging 2D drawings.” The respondents agree that 3D design could facilitate the coordination tasks and reduce discrepancies between disciplines if all users are familiar with the software used.

Approach to project design

The respondents’ feedback highlights a common deficiency in the traditional approach where design is forced to converge early into one alternative that seems to suit the client’s perception the most. Respondents did not think highly of the contribution of this approach to the success of a project, giving it a 3.02 rating as shown in item 6. This is further confirmed by the higher rating of 3.41 (statistically significant) given to item 7 “having several design alternatives for flexibility.” Developing several design alternatives helps the owner better understand his needs and what is of value to him, and also helps in reducing rework during design and construction.

Communication between parties

Items 8, 9 and 10 address the communication among different parties involved in a project. The participants agree that the best practice is to continuously communicate with each other with the aim of revealing unnoticed problems and sharing general risks, this is reflected in the 4.46 rating (statistically significant) given to “continuous communication.” Likewise, participants indicated that they do not approve the absence of interactions when facing problems; hence assigning a rating of 2.51 to item 9. Indeed, communication during all project phases, especially when dealing with specific problems, helps in speeding up the problem solving process and converging to a better solution. As for “withholding information,” the participants clearly agree that this practice is detrimental to the success of the project as reflected in the 2.34 rating given to item 10. However when comparing the A/E’s and the GC’s responses, we infer a great difference in opinions with −1.43 (statistically significant) difference in means.

GCs were keener on withholding information from other parties to take advantage at a later stage of the project. GCs explained that this practice is useful when dealing with a “FIDIC RED” contract where competition among contractors on a DBB project can be critically close. In fact, a minor price difference among numerous bidders can have a huge impact on selecting the winning contractor. Therefore, if the tenderers notice any information that would put them in an advantageous position, they tend to not disclose it to any party to gain an edge in the competition. This is considered a common practice among contractors in the tendering phase. Most contractors also admitted withholding information during the execution phase of the project. GCs believe that the “FIDIC RED” contract tends to weaken the contractor’s position while giving the owner authority through the A/E. Therefore, withholding information becomes a common practice used by contractors to reclaim what is thought of as their “right.” A typical procedure cited by the participants was the use of “variation orders” or “change orders” to obtain more profits from the owner.

Location and involvement of teams

To further investigate the respondents’ views on collaboration, they were asked to rate the impact of having “team members work in the same office” – or what is called “co-location” in IPD terminology – on the success of the project. The results were positively surprising with a statistically significant 3.76 rating (item 11). The surprising aspect is that even though the majority of respondents did not experience collaborative project environments, they still believe that collaboration would make a difference. However, those same respondents gave “including experienced workers in weekly meetings” a neutral rating of 3.05 (item 12). To further comprehend the reason behind the difference in ratings of items 11 and 12, a more thorough consideration of the data was required to understand the background experience of the survey participants. This showed that respondents with international experience, such as in the USA, the UK, or other places in Europe, rated item 12 higher than those who have only worked in the ME. In fact, it is not common practice in the ME to involve blue-collar workers in meetings or project planning exercises.

Managing errors

When asked about managerial practices, the participants unanimously admitted that “root-cause analysis” (item 13) is a fundamental technique that should be used to tackle and solve project related problems, giving it a 4.34 ranking (statistically significant). However, the “penalizing for errors” mentality, which is prevalent in traditional management, was given a weak acceptance rating of 3.1 (item 14).

Decision making

It was generally agreed that suggestions should be carried upstream (item 15), listened to and taken into consideration before making a decision by consensus, as shown through the 3.8 rating (statistically significant). Additionally, “hierarchical downstream decision making” was looked at negatively, as reflected by the 2.66 rating (item 16). This indicates that even though participants believe that reaching a decision by consensus is difficult to achieve and that hierarchical decision making is sometimes necessary, they still think that it is a factor that brings negative project outcomes and thus prefer more collaborative mechanisms.

Compensation structure

Respondents’ feedback in terms of payment for project parties present some interesting results. Although they detest “paying rigid amounts to each party” as implemented in DBB contracts, giving it the lowest rating of 2.44 (item 17), they were not able to embrace “cost and profit sharing” schemes that they have not experienced before. IPD contracts stipulate that cost and profit be shared throughout the period of the project. However, respondents thought of this scheme as more utopian than practical. Most of them had never heard of such cases and preferred to be conservative when rating this item, hence explaining the neutral rating of 3.05 given to item 18.

Summary

Generally, the results of this section reflect that the surveyed industry practitioners in the ME are able to recognize the significance of collaborative IPD features in contributing to the success of a project. Although the participants are not experienced with IPD approaches, they were able to identify the potential of such features in realizing their goals and facilitating relationship management between the involved project parties. This reflects a starting point for the possibility of implementing IPD, or similar collaborative approaches, in the ME construction industry.

4.2 Rating FIDIC contracts

In Section 3 of the survey, participants were presented with different statements relating to the extent to which the FIDIC RED Book, the most popular contract in the ME, encompasses IPD collaboration features (Results comprise items 19–30 of Table II).

Generally, the respondents do not believe that the FIDIC RED Book is a promoter of project collaboration (Mean of 2.68, item 19). In fact, there is no mention of the word “collaboration” or similar derivatives in the contract documents. However, although collaboration is not a strong feature of FIDIC contracts, they are not necessarily considered a source of “adversarial relationships” among the parties (Mean of 2.95, item 21).

It was found that the early involvement of the contractor in the pre-design or design phases, a main feature of IPD, was not enabled by FIDIC (Mean of 1.78, Item 20). Similarly, FIDIC is perceived as clearly giving authority to the owner through the engineer (Item 23), as the latter makes top management decisions on behalf of the owner, takes control of the design, and coordinates with the contractor, who is placed in a weaker position.

Altering the power equation in the contract may result in the contractor becoming “claim conscious” and submitting claims whenever a slight opportunity presents itself (Item25). Respondents also believe that the FIDIC contract results in poor management of change during the project (Item 26). The owner might become suspicious of the contractor’s actions, a matter that could further deteriorate the relationship between them.

One aspect of FIDIC is the clear definition of professional guidelines governing the relationships between the different parties involved (Item 22). Although many respondents consider that clear professional guidelines can reduce conflicts, others, who have had experience with collaborative contracts in other parts of the world, believe that the specific roles defined by FIDIC create barriers between parties.

Finally, some positive points the participants raised about the FIDIC contract is that it is practical and easy to use, applicable to the local legal aspect of the country in which it is being applied, applicable to the current situation although it was last updated in 199, and can solve problems without always resorting to courts (Items 27–30). These advantages explain the wide use of the FIDIC contract in the ME construction industry.

As highlighted in Figure 2, results show that the FIDIC Red Book: does not strongly enable collaboration, does not involve all the parties at an early stage of the project, promotes a clear unbalance in power between the owner and the contractor which may lead the contractor to become opportunistic and claim conscious, defines the roles of each party in ways that might create barriers between the parties and is not efficient in managing changes. Therefore, it is concluded that the contractual environment in the ME, as reflected through the use of FIDIC contracts, does not encompass essential IPD features than enable collaboration and integration between project participants.

5. Discussion of the results

5.1 General overview

Results of the study (e.g. items 19, 20, 21, 22 and 25 in Table II) show that traditional project delivery methods are still far from delivering the collaboration features enabled by IPD. Although experts clearly understand the benefits that each IPD feature provides on its own (e.g. items 1, 2, 3 in Table II), they are envisioning these features within the boundaries of current delivery methods, as opposed to a full contractual IPD.

5.2 ME practitioners’ thoughts on IPD collaboration features

The surveyed ME experts highly value the IPD features of collaboration at all phases, such as developing several design alternatives to better define value for the client, team members co-locating and working in the same office, using 3D/4D models, encouraging continuous communication between the parties, and applying root-cause analysis to resolve problems instead of finger pointing. They believe that these features lead to more successful projects. These results resonate with other studies confirming that complex projects using IPD display superior performance over projects using other delivery systems (El Asmar et al., 2013, 2016). However, successful implementation requires an integrated approach to design and construction, interdisciplinary agents, more team communication and team structures that support cross-organizational project governance (Baiden and Price, 2011; Mihic et al., 2014; Nofera et al., 2011). Moreover, BIM is seen as an enabler for collaboration, but the current maturity of BIM in the ME is not advanced enough. Researchers consider this concern a deficiency that needs to be bridged to support IPD (Kent and Becerik-Gerber, 2010).

5.3 FIDIC contracts: lack in promoting collaboration

Results confirm that the widely used set of FIDIC contracts is easy to use and practical, applicable to local legal language, easily applicable to the current situation and can resolve issues without always resorting to courts. However, respondents believe that these contracts do not promote collaboration nor involve all the parties in the early project stages. They endorse a clear imbalance in power distribution between the owner and the contractor (modified FIDIC), which often leads to the contractor becoming opportunistic and claim-conscious. Moreover, these types of contracts are inefficient in managing change-in clauses and might create barriers between the different parties in the way they define roles and responsibilities.

5.4 Implementing IPD features in current delivery approaches

While it can be argued that current delivery methods do not support IPD values and features, the authors tend to agree with several researchers and practitioners that some of these values can be embedded, to a certain extent, into current delivery approaches. Contractors and designers can, and some already do, embed process improvement, strategic partnering, and constructability studies into current DB projects (El-Adaway, 2010; Takim et al., 2013). In fact, some studies show that the DB method is selected as the most commonly-used method to implement IPD values on projects (Kent and Becerik-Gerber, 2010; Matthews and Howell, 2005). Even more traditional DBB projects can feature higher levels of integration by informally engaging the constructor at earlier phases of the project, running design charrettes, incentivizing harmonious project teams and committing to sustainability goals (Mollaoglu-Korkmaz et al., 2013).

5.5 Challenges of IPD implementation in the ME

IPD implementation in developing industries such as the ME would face several critical challenges, categorized by Roy et al. (2018) into: technological, legal, financial and cultural challenges. A survey conducted on 59 IPD projects in the USA and Canada corroborates these challenges in other parts of the world, stressing on the need to let go of traditional mindsets to fully embrace IPD (Cheng et al., 2015). In fact, when evaluating the readiness of construction in the ME to adopt IPD, cultural factors should not be taken lightly (Ghassemi and Becerik-Gerber, 2011). Cultural barriers specific to the ME need to be taken into consideration such as traditional reliance on the individual more than the team, reluctance to change, lack of strategic thinking and most importantly, fragile trust and transparency (Javidan et al., 2006). However, this cultural barrier can be overcome as confirmed by Korb et al. (2016), who investigated a partial implementation of IPD on a case study project in the ME and reported successful results.

6. Conclusions and recommendations

This study investigates the extent to which the popular forms of contract adopted in the ME address collaboration. It also examines the potential of improving collaboration on construction projects in the ME by using IPD. The study identifies collaboration features in IPD that contribute to project success and evaluates their significance from the perspective of various contract managers. Results reveal that while experts recognize the collaboration benefits that IPD features may contribute to a project, the current contractual environment within the industry does not optimally encompass these features.

The findings of this research serve as a foundation for possible future implementations of IPD, establishing training programs and driving more collaboration into existing project delivery agreements. Accordingly, the authors recommend that project and contract managers utilize contractual clauses that enable collaborative processes. The authors encourage the development of more collaborative FIDIC contracts or other customized contracts that comprise IPD values and features to better serve the ME industry. Moreover, training programs that advocate the philosophy of collaboration and teamwork are needed.

Figures

Box plots for items 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the survey addressing collaboration and visual representation

Figure 1

Box plots for items 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the survey addressing collaboration and visual representation

Box plots showing results for current FIDIC Red Book for items 19, 21, 20 and 23 in the survey addressing factors that impact the contractual environment

Figure 2

Box plots showing results for current FIDIC Red Book for items 19, 21, 20 and 23 in the survey addressing factors that impact the contractual environment

Distribution of the 41 participants in structured interviews

Nature of firm Years of work experience in construction Software experience Experience with project delivery approach Experience with contract forms
Contracting 26 <5 0 AutoCAD 2D 38 DBBa 38 FIDIC 1987 18
A/E consulting 8 5–10 3 AutoCAD 3D 9 CM at Risk 2 FIDIC 1999 25
Client Rep./ PM 7 11–15 8 Revit 14 CM at Fee 1 Modified versione 27
16–20 3 Bentley 1 DBb 16 Governmental 3
20–30 13 Autodesk CIVIL 1 EPCc 1 AS24 1
>30 14 TEKLA 2 BOTd 1 JCT 2
NEC3 2

Notes: aDesign-bid-build; bdesign-build; cengineering-procurement-construction; dbuild-operate-transfer; eFIDIC contract modified by the client

Respondents’ views on successful project criteria (IPD related) and on FIDIC RED book contracts

Category item in survey µ α p-value AE-GC p-value AE-CRPM p-value GC-CRPM p-value
 1. Collaboration during pre-design 3.39 1.36 0.07 −0.58 0.26 −0.29 0.69 0.30 0.61
 2. Collaboration during design 4.15 0.82 0.00 −0.59 0.05 −0.59 0.23 0.01 0.99
 3. Collaboration during construction 4.51 1.00 0.00 −0.16 0.70 −0.70 0.10 −0.54 0.21
 4. 3D/4D master model 4.37 0.66 0.00 0.17 0.53 0.21 0.50 0.05 0.87
 5. Exchanging 2D drawings 3.02 0.91 0.33 0.50 0.14 1.07 0.03 0.57 0.12
 6. Converging early on one design solution 3.02 1.13 0.65 0.02 0.97 0.39 0.49 0.37 0.49
 7. Having several design alternatives for flexibility 3.41 1.07 0.01 −0.08 0.86 −0.41 0.35 −0.34 0.49
 8. Encouraging continuous communication 4.46 0.71 0.00 −0.20 0.48 −0.27 0.54 −0.07 0.78
 9. Absence of interactions during problems 2.51 1.36 0.99 −0.04 0.94 0.07 0.90 0.11 0.85
10. Withholding information 2.34 1.39 1.00 −1.43 0.01 −0.60 0.12 0.83 0.19
11. Teams members work in the same office 3.76 1.34 0.00 −1.25 0.01 −0.14 0.86 1.11 0.02
12. Experienced foremen in weekly meetings 3.05 1.48 0.37 −0.53 0.36 −0.83 0.28 −0.30 0.64
13. Root-cause analysis and system review 4.34 0.91 0.00 −0.57 0.04 0.53 0.29 1.10 0.01
14. Penalizing for errors 3.10 1.07 0.21 −0.53 0.18 0.09 0.86 0.62 0.20
15. Suggestions carried upstream for consensus 3.80 0.98 0.00 0.25 0.54 0.29 0.35 0.04 0.94
16. Hierarchical downstream decision making 2.66 1.41 0.98 −0.25 0.67 −0.07 0.92 0.18 0.76
17. Paying rigid amount to each party 2.44 1.18 1.00 0.53 0.26 0.90 0.19 0.38 0.41
18. Cost and profit sharing 3.05 1.34 0.36 −0.27 0.62 0.04 0.93 0.31 0.63
19. Collaboration 2.68 1.04 0.97 −0.39 0.34 −0.31 0.59 0.08 0.85
20. Early involvement of contractor/subcontractor 1.78 1.15 1.00 −0.60 0.18 −0.17 0.70 0.43 0.43
21. Adversarial relationships 2.95 1.26 0.64 −0.28 0.58 0.09 0.90 0.37 0.47
22. Defining responsibilities 4.12 0.75 0.00 0.43 0.13 −0.41 0.10 −0.84 0.01
23. Authority to owner through engineer 4.00 1.10 0.00 −0.23 0.60 0.19 0.74 0.41 0.38
24. Penalties on contractor 2.73 1.12 0.92 0.48 0.29 0.53 0.32 0.05 0.91
25. Claim-conscious behavior 3.49 0.95 0.00 0.14 0.67 0.17 0.77 0.03 0.94
26. Poor management of change-in clauses 3.17 1.22 0.24 −0.11 0.82 −0.04 0.95 0.07 0.90
27. Easy to use and practical 3.59 0.84 0.00 −0.47 0.12 −0.66 0.19 −0.19 0.58
28. Flexibility to country’s legal aspect 3.63 0.86 0.00 −0.17 0.64 −0.21 0.56 −0.05 0.90
29. Applicability to current situation 3.63 0.83 0.00 −0.04 0.90 −0.64 0.05 −0.60 0.11
30. Problem solving without arbitration 3.27 0.98 0.04 −0.19 0.61 −0.33 0.51 −0.14 0.75

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Further reading

Bryman, A. (2012), Social Research Methods, 4th ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Matter, S. (2011), Contracting Strategies for International Construction Projects, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT), Nairobi.

United Nations Statistics Division, National Accounts (2013), “GDP and its breakdown at current prices in National currency”, available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/dnllist.asp (accessed February 1, 2019).

Corresponding author

Farook Hamzeh can be contacted at: farookhamzeh@gmail.com