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Causal Discovery and Inference of Project Disputes

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4 Author(s)
Love, P.E.D. ; Constr. Manage., Curtin Univ. of Technol., Perth, WA, Australia ; Davis, P.R. ; Sai On Cheung ; Irani, Z.

Disputes have become an endemic feature of the Australian construction industry, despite the intense introspection into their causes and the identification for avoidance strategies. It is well known that factors, such as scope changes, poor contract documentation, restricted access, unforeseen ground conditions, and contractual ambiguities are contributors of disputes, but there is limited knowledge about the underlying latent conditions, referred to as pathogens, which contribute to their occurrence. In addressing this gap, the pathogens and the causal chains of disputes in construction projects are examined using an interpretative research approach based upon analytic induction. Forty-one in-depth interviews were undertaken with industry practitioners who identified 58 examples of disputes that they have been actively involved with. The analysis of the findings revealed that the pathogens associated with circumstance, practice, and task performance accounted for a significant proportion of disputes identified by practitioners. The environment associated with the use of traditional lump sum contracting, the practice of deliberately not adhering to polices and procedures, the task of failing to detect errors, and misinterpreting contract terms and conditions were revealed as contributors to disputation between parties. The presented research enables an ameliorated understanding about the mechanics and interactions of disputes to be attained. An underlying orthodoxy is established and should be followed by clients if the performance of projects is to be improved.

Published in:

Engineering Management, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:58 ,  Issue: 3 )