Low bid to CMAR - Culture Change
Dr. Robert A. Perkins, PE
There is a transition from the adversarial nature of low-bid public construction to the more cooperative nature of Construction Manger at Risk (CMAR) contracting. Managers of public construction projects describe the change in attitudes of the parties as “culture change,” and note that it is needed for successful implementation of CMAR project delivery. This report examines this culture change by exploring the relations between the main parties to a CMAR project - Owner, designer (A/E), construction manager (CM), and subcontractors (Subs) - noting how these relations may change with CMAR experience.
Public construction projects are almost always performed by ad hoc teams that change as the project progresses, often making communication difficult. Good communication between the parties is essential for trust to develop. In CMAR trust is vital to efficient knowledge transfer between the parties, unlike traditional design-bid-build (DBB) projects, where a minimum of trust between the parties is sufficient. Understanding the process of culture change may lead to better communication between the parties and accelerate the building of trust.
This report examines culture change by exploring issues that are likely to cause tension between the parties and determining if this tension changes with increasing CMAR experience. The research method used was a survey that was emailed to individuals identified as CMAR participants. The survey asked for multiple-choice answers to questions, but also permitted some text comments. The results of the survey were tabulated two ways: by the individual respondent’s employment in one of the four parties, and by the number of CMAR projects in which each respondent had participated.
There are three ways you can access the results of the survey:
I would appreciate any comments you may have, especially about the conclusions. Please email me. If you would like to add a text comment to any question, I will try to accommodate you. I plan to write several technical papers in engineering journals. If you would like to use some of this data in a more popular venue such as trade journals or house publications, I would be interested in working with you regarding such publications.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to the Institute of Northern Engineering for providing travel funds, the working professionals who took the time to respond to the survey, and INE's Sandra Boatwright and Fran Pedersen for turning my Engineering-ese into English.
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