Understanding the multiple functions of construction contracts: the anatomy of FIDIC model contracts

Yongqiang Chen, Wenqian Wang, Shuibo Zhang*, Jingya You

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Construction contracts, such as FIDIC model contracts, are relatively complex and cumbersome, and their composition needs to be better understood. This research uses a multi-functional approach that is widely recognized in the contract literature, and anatomizes FIDIC model contracts in order to gain a holistic and comprehensive understanding of them. Moreover, this research comparatively analyses the distribution of the three functions, namely control, coordination and adaptation, in four forms of FIDIC model contracts to explore how project delivery systems (PDSs) affect contract design. After a classification framework that includes three functions and ten subclasses was established, the FIDIC 1999 series model contracts were coded sentence by sentence using content analysis. The results show that the three functions are all non-trivially reflected in construction contracts and are influenced by project complexity. Regarding different PDSs, the complexity of contract control is relatively rigid; the complexity of contract coordination is largely influenced by PDSs; and the impact of PDSs on the complexity of adaptation provisions depends on the sub-class. The conclusions may help scholars and practitioners understand construction contracts from a functional perspective, and offer references for contract designers to reasonably consider the distribution of the three functions in construction contracts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-485
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number8
Early online date16 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

User-Defined Keywords

  • Contract structure
  • contract documentation
  • content analysis


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