Comprehensive partnering management model for highway construction projects delivered using traditional and alternative methods

Pinto Nunez, Milagros
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This dissertation is designed to explore the use of partnering as a decision tool for improving highway construction project performance regarding the project delivery method used by the transportation agencies. Project partnering was implemented in response to project performance issues that are often caused by the adversarial relationships that characterize the industry. Partnering is a tool to improve relationships by providing a framework for open communication and joint problem solving whose goal is to obtain win/win outcomes. Despite the widespread use of partnering, the literature review did not reveal previous research that quantifies the costs and benefits of implementing partnering over an extended period of time.

The following three issues are of primary concern to all public transportation agencies during project development and delivery: (1) selecting the appropriate project delivery method, (2) maximizing project cost/time certainty while minimizing disruptions due to disputes, and (3) ensuring proactive project quality management while creating a safe environment for both workers and the traveling public.

The increased use of alternative project delivery methods has caused the above issues to become increasingly interrelated and created a project management challenge for state departments of transportation (DOT). Not only do these projects allow concurrent design and construction, but they also move at a faster pace, which demands a much higher degree of both integration and active collaboration to meet the demands of an aggressive schedule. Initially implemented by the Arizona DOT in 1996, partnering has been found to be an effective tool for creating the necessary atmosphere for honest, information-rich communication between the owner and its design consultants and construction contractors. However, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Partnering Handbook was published in 1998 based only on traditional low bid project delivery and as such does not include guidance for partnering projects delivered using alternative contracting methods (ACM).

This dissertation aims to contribute to the body of knowledge in partnering by extending the understanding of project level partnering, and documenting effective practice found in the research to the program level. This will be achieved by answering the following overarching research question: Are there quantifiable benefits for implementing project level partnering practices that can be accrued by institutionalizing the principles of partnering at the program level?

The research findings will also have practical implications for transportation agencies which will address that gaps in current knowledge through the following objectives: develop decision-making procedures to select projects to be delivered using partnering based on their project performance metrics; develop a framework procedure to measure the impact of partnering practices; developing guidance for partnering projects delivered using ACMs; and develop a partnering organizational maturity model to identify potential areas of improvements at program level.

claim, institutionalize, Maturity Model, Partnering, performance metrics