Early Contractor Involvement in the construction industry - a preliminary literature review
Paper in proceedings, 2019
The Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) concept focuses on increasing efficiency in the construction process by involving the contractor in the design phase and has increased in popularity in recent years. The concept is not new, and the main body of literature applies a relatively unified understanding of the concept. There are, however, differences in the literature on how ECI is applied due to contextual differences. The goal of this paper is to provide a preliminary schematic analysis of current ECI literature and examine the current ECI research. ECI is placed in the wider umbrella framework of relationship contracting, together with alliancing and partnering. The similarities and differences will be briefly touched upon. The literature review is based on a database query in Scopus and Web of Science. A total of 4 648 articles were identified initially, focusing on key words of ‘early contractor involvement’ or ‘ECI’. The search was further refined by adding the key-words ‘construction’ an ‘building’, forming a core list of 332 articles. Further refining by comparing abstracts and key-words, as well as the definition of ‘ECI’ in the text resulted in a curated list of 27 articles. The articles were then compared on type, method, theory, contribution and context/country. The review reveals a rather unified definition of ECI, but contractor involvement early in the design can be found in multiple concepts related to collaborative management models. The focus of the literature is also mainly on the contractual phase and less attention is given to project governance and execution. The literature focuses on the contractual aspects and incentive structures of ECI, while less focus is on how ECI is organized in the project, the division of responsibility and sharing of amongst the partners. Furthermore, there is a difference in how the concept of ECI is applied in different countries. The review also finds that multiple types of methods are applied in ECI studies but that few studies apply a theoretical lens or endeavour to contribute to theory. The article discusses the literature as well as possible future research.