Designing and implementing incentives for engineering consultants: encouraging cooperation and innovation in a large infrastructure project
Journal article, 2015
In large infrastructure projects, important decisions are made in early design phases. For a client, a key issue is how to stimulate innovative joint performance within the design team. This paper investigates the process of designing and implementing bonuses for cooperation and innovation in a large urban railway tunnel project. Data were collected through non-participatory observations, documents, interviews and a survey. Previous research has shown that incentives influence performance positively or negatively depending on task contents and perceived intentions, but also that people tend to underestimate this complexity and over-emphasize the power of incentives. Based on case observations, effects of bonuses for engineering consultants are discussed in relation to client awareness and management resources. The case results suggest that there are low risks for negative effects on task motivation of design consultants if incentives are low-stakes and not tied to specified performance. However, for low-stake incentives to add value, symbolic roles and the communication processes generated by the incentive scheme need to be strategically and purposefully managed. We conclude that research is needed to guide clients in considering a wider range of measures for enabling innovation and collaboration in design teams.