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Highways England Collaborative Lean Research Project

Principles for appropriate contracting.

This project enabled a joint funded col­lab­o­ra­tion part­ner­ship to be formed through a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing between the High­ways Agency and Cardiff Uni­ver­sity with a wider objec­tive for Highways England of research­ing and devel­op­ing a num­ber of Lean con­struc­tion tools and techniques.

Details of the wider research project, and the consortium of organisations and universities involved, can be found on the Highways England website. Within this broader programme, Cardiff University’s stream of research, led by Dr Jon Gosling, was concerned with procurement and contract management.

In the context of large scale civil engineering projects, contracting and procurement decisions play a significant part in developing the right environment for success. The aim of this one year funded research project (April 2014 – April 2015) was to provide new insight into the conditions for good project performance through the development of an industry level template to align contract form and supply chain types.

Established concepts from previous work in engineering-to-order (see publications by Dr Jon Gosling) and the decoupling point helped to inform this work, as well as input from recent thinking in terms of Contract forms (e.g. the NEC suite).

Research activities a focus group of senior industry experts held in Cardiff, and wide range of interviews with different organisation, including clients, main contractors, consultants, legal firms, contract bodies and material suppliers.

Principles for appropriate contracting cover image

One of the outputs of this research was a handbook “Principles for Appropriate Contracting” which highlights the importance of:

  • Anchoring contract strategy in a set of principles
  • Understanding readiness and engineering uncertainty early in the procurement cycle using a ‘client penetration’ point model
  • Thinking strategically about alignment through an alignment framework
  • Contract review and a structured learning approach through a Continuous Improvement System

You can view the full handbook on the Highways Agencies website.


Other contributors to this project include:

  • Professor Mohamed Naim, Cardiff Business School
  • Sarah Lethbridge, Cardiff Business School
  • Dr Maneesh Kumar, Cardiff Business School
  • Bill Hewlett, Costain.

For more information on this project please contact Dr Jon Gosling.