Beyond terminology: which contracting features promote innovation

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Two opposing contracting forms in construction are DB (Design and build) and DBB (Design - bid - build).  The  first  one  provides  the  contractor  degrees  of  freedom  in  design,  which  enables innovation. DBB is the safe and traditional contracting form, where the client is responsible for the design and the contractor build accordingly. There is a lack of empirical studies comparing these contracting forms on efficiency and innovation. A first step in comparing is to define and separate the contracts.

The straightforward solution is to use the client instigated definitions at face  value  i.e. a contract  is  a  DB  or  a  DBB according  to  the  client. This  is  shown to  be problematic  by  using five  road  construction projects  from Sweden. One  of the  DBB indicates more  degrees  of  freedom  in  design  than  a DB  contract  and  only  one  DB  project  invites  new methods  for  construction. The  paper  concludes  that contract  labelling is  not a  good proxy for degrees  of  freedomin  design,  which  is  was  theoretically  drives  innovation.  This insight facilitates future studies to evaluate contracting forms.

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