An Institutional Economics Approach to Megaproject Construction Contracts

Author
Date
Jul 2019
This paper shows that there is an opportunity to use an institutional economics approach to the analysis of the challenges around megaproject construction contract development. It shows, firstly, that this approach is useful to analyze the reasonability of using particular contractual functions and clauses to deal with megaproject complexity. Specifically, although it is here recognized that complexity justifies the use of coordination and adaptation clauses, it is also alleged that safeguarding clauses may or may not be useful as complexity rises because this depends on the relationship between maladaptation costs and transaction costs, both related to the institutional environment. Secondly, this paper also alleges that new institutional economics is a helpful framework to analyze the prioritization of the underlying factors that determine the criteria used to assess and select contracting methods.This document illustrates that the decision of the procuring method needs to be fundamentally addressed by analyzing the sponsors’ characteristics and objectives. This is aligned with the fact that the decision regarding which contracting method to apply should consider the potential minimization of transaction costs, by adjusting governance to the nature of the transaction.