The Concept And Benefits Of Partnering Construction Essay

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Partnering is a way of improving the performance of any construction process, providing benefits for both parties involved. It is a new non-adversarial approach to the procurement in construction, dealing with the definition of a problem resolution process that helps to reduce litigation as quickly as problems arise. This paper attempts to verify the efficiency of partnering applied to a project, drawing upon theory and research from literary studies, in order to explore the philosophy of partnering and the results deriving from its application to construction projects. The implementation of partnering to a real case study has highlighted the benefits of this approach in terms of reduction in litigation, better working environment and reduction in claims and change orders. Moreover, partnering, offering a quick resolution at the lowest possible level, it's also an effective approach to avoid disputes.

INTRODUCTION

Construction is a very complex field, characterized by competitiveness and high risk.

The main objective during a construction project is to deliver a quality product in a timely, cost-effective, and safe manner.

As the construction project involves several stakeholders (client/owner, consulting engineer and/or architect, contractor, manager/user), each one with his own goal to achieve, the risky and competitive nature of construction contracting can often make the relationships between participants adversarial.

In many instances this hostile environment could slow down the progress of the project, so to lead to claims and litigation, resulting in huge legal costs on the project.

Besides the "traditional construction project", based on a self-optimization system (no working teams, but individuals with their different objectives), "Partnering Project" is an alternative approach, consisting in a form of cooperation between the different participants of a project. This kind of process allows to share objectives, to join activities and financial interests to make the best profit possible.

Therefore, the main objective of partnering is to encourage all parties of a contract to change their relationships from adversarial to cooperative, by building a friendly environment with all parties acting as members of one team [1]. Partnering is a way of improving relationships, of developing goodwill, trust, cooperation, teamwork, open communication and attainment of mutual goals. Moreover, it is a way of achieving the ultimate goal, increasing profits and creating an environment that one can feel comfortable in.

Partnering process is based on regularly scheduled follow-up workshops, held throughout the life of a project, to which every party involved in the project takes part, from the technical members of the team to their managements, directors and any other interested parties who may impact on the successful delivery of the project. These workshops allow to establish clearly and by common consent all aspects of the project, after to follow-up the quality, time and cost all over the project.

In this sense a partnering project is based on a common optimization system, where all parties work together to achieve common objectives, where professional skills of all the partners complete each other in all stages of the project.

Partnering as a concept has attracted a great deal of attention due to the tremendous amount of disputes which have occurred in recent years in construction industry. It is a successful tool that helps to reduce claims and to deliver more projects on-time. Partnering in construction has been presented as a potentially important way of improving construction project performance through the direct benefits that it can brings to both clients and contractors [6].

During a construction process disputes can arise. A dispute is a disagreement between two or more people, not ever understood by the participants that, working daily on solving problems, can't really realize that a project problem has now become a project dispute. For the successful of a project a good comprehensive approach to disputes is essential. It's then important to carry out an evaluation to know how we can set up our partnering project in order to avoid disputes, how implement a good organization of the meeting to lead the project to a good end and finally.

Partnering project allows to share risks and benefits [10]. That's why in the project process, if everybody has the same rank, the dispute could be reduced. But, is this always a reality? Or some specificities have to be taken?

The literature study

Partnering process

Partnering has three essential features: definition of mutual objectives, agreed problem resolution process and an active search for continuous improvement [29].

This study will focus the attention on problem resolution process in partnering and on partnering seen as a mean for avoiding disputes.

Figure 1: The three essential features of partnering [10]

The Owner generally presents an intention to partner in the solicitation and contract documents. His offer to partner will also be discussed at the pre-bid meeting with the potential bidders. The offer is optional: the contractor does not have to accept it. This underscores a key point: only if both parties share a mutual interest and desire to make partnering work, does it have any chance of success.

If the contractor elects to enter into a Partnering agreement, the costs of the activities required to prepare and implement the agreement are shared. At this moment the partnering process starts up through different phases [30]:

• Conduct pre-session research with stakeholders, often including online surveys of key

participants.

• Design a partnering program specifically for the project.

• Hold a partnering workshop.

• Partnering follow-up, including partnering evaluations at project meetings, monthly online surveys of team members to identify areas of concern, and follow-up partnering sessions as necessary.

• Additional partnering workshops at key project stages, as required.

These workshops are not addressed only to the client or only to the design team, but they are integrated team-working workshops for all team members: ideally, partnering workshops should be attended by all project personnel with decision making authority, including:

• Owner representatives

• Consulting engineer/architect/design firm representatives

• Contractors

• Key sub-contractors

• Key suppliers

• Major municipality representatives

• Environment officials

• Safety officials

Sometimes the presence of some consultant is required in order to give recommendations to his client, basing on his own experience [3]. The workshop is generally led by an outside facilitator, who assists all the members in preparing a charter, developing an issue resolution process, and developing a periodic process of evaluation, so to review the effectiveness of the process, and to take corrective action [30].

The evolution of the partnership in is shown in Figure 2 [29].

Figure 2: Evolution of partnering relationship[29]

A study by Mr. Thomas named "A Program of Partnering and Integrated Team Workshop" [17] gives an example of a workshop's planning. He classes the workshops in five categories (see Table 1).

Table 1: Program of the workshops [17]

Design phase

During the design phase, three specific meetings take place:

- Initial partnering workshop

- Value management workshop

- Risk management workshop

These meetings could begin as soon as all the team-working is chosen. The first meeting allows to share the common goals and the ways to deliver them. In these meetings, everybody has to input his own views and suggestions about delivering better value.

Different principles should be established to carry out the project [10]: commitment, mutual trust, integrity, and personal pride. So, during these "pre-construction workshop" three documents have to be made by all the participants [28]

Goals Statement and Partnering charter: to focus within individual organizations to address internal issues, concerns, common objectives and identification of roles within the organization itself.

Communications Procedures: detailed specifications of how, when, and about what participants will communicate one to the other on the project.

Conflict Resolution Process: this document will help in case of disputes to solve conflicts so to achieve mutual satisfaction.

This meeting has different objectives. The initial workshop allows to set up a project plan and to define what will be the extent of the partnering according to the fixed scope, time, cost and quality. Then, after clearly defining goals and objectives of the partnering, the different actors have to identify a plan to achieve them. The two next workshops (value management and risk management workshop) follow the initial one. With these two workshops make plans about cost, quality and risks that could occur are discussed [12].

Construction phase

During this phase, several workshops have to be programmed, each one with its own objective. These workshops could allow to solve some conflicts and miscommunications that arise on a project and to review the performance according to the goals that have been established in the design phase. In case of problems, it is now the time to make some action plans and to redefine the communication procedures and the conflict resolution plan. Moreover, these workshops permit to see the progress of the project [26].

Close out workshop

After the handover of the project, the team should meet again for a close out workshop to review partnership (what went right, what went wrong, what could we have done better), to review how well partnering achieves its objectives (financial losses, etc…) and to take forward the successes and opportunities to the next project [26]. It is good if after this meeting every participant can evaluate his own work and the one of the other participants.

Source of problems and conflicts prevention

Why do problems arise?

As previously said, to have a successful partnering some rules have to be followed. The study of Sai-On Cheung, Et al., titled "Behavioural aspects in construction partnering" [10], speaks about the behavioural aspect of participants in construction partnering. After some studies and questionnaires, they show different abilities that participants should have. The principal ideas are trust in each other, a total commitment of everybody in the project, equity between partners and a good cooperation.

The major cause of construction project failures is the lack of early stage planning and communication about what to do when disagreements arise. Thus a good communication between participants and well planned meetings can help to carry out a project in the right way, so to deliver it on time and with a high quality level. But several problems occur over the life of a project, which could be transformed into a dispute between the different partners, driving to non-progress of the project. Table 3 shows different elements for a successful partnering, deriving from questionnaires asked companies.

Table 3: Elements of successful partnering [8]

As you can see, disputes are a reality in all construction projects, and this it's true for any type of project, "partnering project" or "traditional construction project".

A study by Shaokai Lu & Hong Yan [18] shows that the major source of construction problems is the bad behaviour of the partners. Effectively, in many projects the non equity, the confrontation between participants and the lack of cooperation are the main sources of disputes within the group.

Moreover, Conley M.A & Gregory R.A [11] say that the main obstacles in a project can come from inadequate technology knowledge of the participants, a lack of education or a bad training program.

This lack of trust or commitment which provides problems are meanly cost orientated. The cost is the major subject during the meeting. Sure enough, one of the most important objective of the participants is to make the profit as big as possible.

Other causes of conflict can be time schedule (reprogramming of work or delay) and construction specifications [21]. These main disputes have been found after an interview of subcontractors implicated in a partnering project.

Moreover, according to Chen, J. H [8], changes often need to be made during a construction project. These changes can be transformed into dispute among the construction project participants. Sometimes, these disputes are serious enough to engender undesirable cost problems.

Below, a list of the main causes of disputes is presented according to John Reilly & Associates [31]:

Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic risk-shifting

Ambiguous contract documents

Low bid / fixed price contracts

Poor communications

Inadequate management

Failure to deal promptly with changes and unexpected conditions

Lack of team spirit and cooperation

Confrontational and/or litigious mind-set and approach

Passing disputes to higher levels or to lawyers - rather than take responsibility

As the workshops are planned to discuss and to find solutions, often these meetings could be sources of anger and disputes. So, any effort should be made to maximise the output by preparing in advance and making the experience as enjoyable as possible for the team. This will motivate the team members and assist them in producing quality output [26].

Problem solution

There were and there will always be disputes in construction projects, because of the adverse nature of this field .

Nowadays there are several methods or programs [2] [22] which allow to predict disputes. But, often the resolution is slow, disruptive and costly.

A good solution for project is stakeholders to jointly identify current and future risks and then to work on ways to avoid them or to blunt their impact. For this to happen, risks have to be evaluated, and those stakeholders with a degree of control must be prepared to take on responsibility for dealing with problem situations as they occur. All of those involved-owners, contractors, consultants, attorneys-help identify the likely points where conflicts may arise and agree to play an appropriate role in a system custom-designed to avoid or resolve them. Identifying and setting up systems to manage potential problems as soon as possible helps parties achieve common objectives and enhances the chances for the success of the project.

Therefore, in the partnering process, parties agree to formalize processes to reduce the adversarial relationship: these processes are named "alternative disputes resolution processes" or "dispute resolution plan" [2] [22].

Different types of dispute resolution procedures are possible, such as mediation, arbitration or mini-trials. These methods can be effective in addressing conflicts and disputes after they arise. For each specific problem one method is applicable.

However, the most effective means of addressing disputes is to avoid them before they begin.

Conflict avoidance is an important goal of partnering. Yet, we will see how partnering can avoid these disputes.

1.2.3 Dispute resolution plan

During the first workshops a "dispute avoidance plan" is established. This plan permits to eliminate the root causes of conflict which not only results in litigation, but in all processes of the project. So, when a difference or dispute between the parties cannot be resolved internally, then it is referred to this plan, which say what to do for resolving the dispute.

This plan has for objectives to avoid reaching an impasse [16]. In case of problem, which changes into a dispute, every participant involved in the conflict has to refer to the resolution plan. Every partner will know how to resolve issues, it will be a common understanding of the process. This plan has to contain every phase of a project and targets.

A second type of plan can provide the intervention of people from outside the project, who could be implicated in it in case of disputes, such as experts or facilitators [12]. This external party, with a fresh and independent view of the project, and not directly involved in it, can easily see the problem sources and propose solutions. This sort of plan can help to preserve good relationships and resolve disputes in a timely manner.

The company "Always Associates" [32] defines the principal stages of a dispute resolution. First, the phase of negotiation between the different actors is one of the most encouraged solution, then the use of non binding and finally binding techniques and processes are possible.

Figure 3: Principal stage of dispute resolution

This paragraph provides an overview of dispute resolution. Two different kinds of disposition can be taken, informal negotiations between the parties or intervention from external sources. 

Several studies show some solutions for disputes [7].

Negotiation - the most common form of dispute resolution, where parties themselves attempt to resolve the dispute.

Mediation - a private and structured form of negotiation assisted by a third party that is initially non-binding. If settlement is reached it can become a legally binding contract..

Conciliation - as mediation, but a conciliator can propose a solution.

Neutral evaluation - a private and non-binding technique whereby a third party, usually legally qualified, gives an opinion on the likely outcome at trial as a basis for settlement discussions.

Expert determination - a private process involving an independent expert with inquisitorial powers who gives a binding decision.

Adjudication - an expert is instructed to rule on a technical issue.

Arbitration - a formal, private and binding process where the dispute is resolved by the decision of a nominated third party, the arbitrator or arbitrators.

Litigation - the formal process whereby claims are taken through the civil courts and conducted in public. The judgments are binding on parties subject to rights of appeal.

Conley M.A. & Gregory R.A. [11] propose some processes to reduce the risk of conflict within the group. First, everybody has to be willing to participate. If discussions between the parties are not enough to resolve the problem, the team has to choose a facilitator. The facilitator will be here to access the workshops and to offer help and advice if needed. Moreover, they [11] explain that it is important to schedule the partnering workshops with specific agendas, so everybody will know what will be discussed during the meeting.

Adams, M. S. [2] in his study named "A proposed value driven design model for dispute avoidance and resolution" explains that the two methods, the most widely and effectively used, are the arbitration and the mediation. For him the role of the facilitator or mediator is to act as a third part, who thinks more to the pattern of argumentation rather than design thinking. A new method to avoid argumentation in the project is proposed. This method is based on a value approach that means that partners have to think more about function than design. In his study, he says that creativity (design thinking) is an important source of quarrel. The value approach, for him, is less inventive, more real and so more understandable for everybody. For his method he uses the implementation of the function analysis system technique. It corresponds to a list of functions and interests useful for buildings. So, for a specific building, it is a good tool for having all the parties agreed on the project interest. Effectively, with this method the utility and the function of use of the future building are privileged.

Chen, J. H. [8] proposes that a kind of "mini-trial" can be used in case of important conflicts. How it works? The parties involved present their cases to a panel of neutral persons. After hearing both the presentations, the panel asks questions to test the strengths of the cases put to them and then the parties attempt to negotiate a settlement assisted by the facilitator.

Evaluation of a dispute

Nowadays several methods for assessing partnership work exist. Provan, K. G., & Milward [23] propose that the community (each person individually), the network (outcome and relation between the partners) and the organization should be evaluated.

Moreover, Caltrans company [7] says that it is good that after each meeting every participant makes an evaluation of the meeting and of the other members. This evaluation can help to prepare the next meeting and not to commit the same mistakes. Moreover, these evaluations can be useful to prepare other partnerships with the same partner. The previous experience will serve to write the dispute resolution plan. Furthermore, the dispute resolution plan must have different steps. In case of disputes, the concerned parties have to use the process at the lowest possible level in the scale. If this solution doesn't permit to resolve the problem, the team has to pass at the next level to try to achieve a solution. So, it is important to evaluate the level of the dispute to kwon where in the dispute resolution plan, we have to refer.

One of the lessons learned for a good partnering work is to have a clearly developed dispute resolution plan. But, according to Hinchey, J. W. & Perry, J. H. [14] the best solution is not to have the better dispute resolution tools but to have readiness to do the best after the dispute is detected.

Is partnering a good method to avoid disputes?

Rather than a dispute resolution method, partnering is a proactive dispute resolution method that prevents issues or problems in a project from escalating into costly disputes.

The study of Chen, J. H. [8] gives five solutions to avoid disputes during a project life, especially for traditional construction projects.

First the best thing is to share fairly the risks

Then, to write dispute clauses

Next, work as a team

Take the provision of a neutral arbitration

And finally take a binding arbitration

If we look carefully at this list, we can see that all these recommendations are the pillars of a partnering process. Effectively, partnering is a team work; all the participants to the project work together and share risks and profits [11]. Furthermore, a dispute charter is established during the design phase to help in case of conflicts [25].

In the same way, Adams, M. S. [2] explains that maybe partnering process is a good solution to avoid dispute. Why? Because every stakeholder is involved in the same manner in the project and since the design phase of the project. Everybody has common goals and has an understanding of them.

Moreover, designing all together the project is identified as a reducing risk factor. As shown previously, if the project is more design oriented [2], it lets more place to the imagination than to the functional needs of the future building. So, if everybody participates to the design, the ideas and the solutions of every participant are taken into account. This way of work permits to identify earlier technical and structural problems [18].

In the research "Resolution Process Plan" Jacobson, T. L. [16] explains that there are two main ways to avoid disputes in a project. The first one is to use the skill of partnering. For him, partnering consists in reaching agreement before statutory deadlines. For that, he proposes that the partnering team builds a dispute resolution plan. This plan is composed of a matrix which contains tools to resolve specific problems. When a dispute occurs, the team goes from matrix to matrix to identify a solution.

Then, if any matrix is able to resolve the conflict, the second possibility consists in using a mediator (see above).

In the study of Hélène De Kovachich [13], it is said that in a traditional construction project the managers pass more than 30% of their time in resolving conflicts and problems. So, she suggests that partnering is a good way to reduce this time. Why? Because according to her study, partnering helps to find solutions that give benefit all parties and avoid disputes, because of the common goals.

But, all these solutions can only work if the members of the partnering team work all together in the best work environment. The team needs to have trust in each other, according to Wong, W.K. & Cheung, S. O. & Yiu, T. W. & Pang, H. Y [27], help to reinforce individual's affirmative willingness, confidence and to overcome risks. Furthermore, if trust lives in a partnering project, it will help to bridge gaps, establishing faith and synergizing the strengths of the members of the organization.

Several studies tried to show the way to follow to have successful project, using partnering.

For example, the association World Economic Forum [28] puts in evidence seven criteria to have success in a partnering project. To begin with a communication based on trust and mutual understanding, then the roles of every participant have to be clearly defined and everybody has to have the same commitment to the project.

The success of sort a project is based on a good professional rigor and discipline, each participant has to have respect for the different competences and approaches of the other.

Finally, everybody has to think at the mutual benefit, so the capacity and capability of everyone have to be used.

John Reilly & Associates [31] identify several key elements for success through partnering and team building :

Understand the project's prime purpose, goals and objectives

Understand key deliverables and critical activities

Develop performance requirements - deliverables and critical activities

Means to measure performance and track progress

Understand roles and responsibilities

Good communications and working relationships

Initiate changes in attitudes - elimination of "us/them"

Develop an environment of equity and fairness

Use teamwork problem solving

Foster / build commitment of all involved parties (stakeholders)

Build equity for all project stakeholders

Develop earned trust

Use team-based performance evaluation / continuous improvement

Appropriate recognition and reward plan

Case study

To better understand how a partnering approach can be important for the success of a project, I will illustrate an example of application of partnering to a real case.

I'm going to show how to deal with potential conflicting situations, in order to avoid disputes in partnering project, by planning and preparing workshops in a friendly work environment, so to identify solutions. The behavior of all participants is important: good communication and trust within the group are the key for the success of the project.

For the analysis I will refer to the literature, deeply studied and described in the first part of the report.

The project

The project consists in the redevelopment of the area of the University in Giessen, characterized by old and too small buildings, not able anymore to fit the requirements of nowadays.

The attention is particularly focused on the Lab and Technology Centre, sited in the north of the university, which will contain several buildings: offices, an application centre for medical engineering and laboratories for biotechnology, mechanical engineering and civil engineering.

The project area is shown in the figure below: as you can see there's only one existing building in the area which will probably influence the arrangement of the new ones.

Figure 4: Aerial photo of the project area - current situation

Figure 5: Project area - The new buildings

Figure 6: 3D views of the project area

The proposal for the master plan of the area provides for six buildings into which to allocate the previous functions: two for the application centre, one for the administration building and three for the Lab and technology centre.

All the buildings have rectangular plan and are organized into three levels, from the ground floor to the second floor. They are thought as single functional unities, but connected each to the other through "bridges", in the last floor, to remark the unitariness of the Lab and Technology area. This idea is also highlighted by the arrangement of the buildings in the plot: they link one to the other according to the shape of a snake, to mean not only a physical but also a functional continuity.

Beneath all buildings there will be parking garages, connected as well.

To complete the area, green spaces, squares and pedestrian ways will be well integrated with the buildings.

The Office Building

My group has dealt with the project of the administration building, located in the middle of the area, according the East-West direction, overlooking the main street on the east side, and green areas/squares on the northern and southern sides.

The building is connected to the surrounding ones (Application centre and Laboratories) at the second floor through a bridge and at the basement.

The building is of four storeys: the underground floor, where there's the parking garage, and three floors, perfectly symmetric in the plan, where the office functions are allocated. The height of the basement is 3,30 m, whereas the three upper floors are 4,00 m high. Totally, the building is 12,00 m high.

The building consists in 41 office rooms, 30 of them of 17 m2, and 11 of 25 m2, and 5 conference rooms of 25 m2.

The parking area in the basement, with 20 parking spaces, is connected to the parking area of the two surrounding buildings through two openings, one in the west side (to the Application centre's garage) and one in the north side (to the Laboratory centre's garage).

The vertical connection through the floors is obtained with two "U" shaped staircases and two elevators, symmetric and located in the middle of the building, easily reachable from any part of it.

All the storeys have a symmetric arrangement of the rooms. In particular, the ground floor and first floor have the same layout: two meeting rooms are placed in the north side, close to the staircases, and fourteen office rooms are symmetrically placed in the south, east and west sides of the building, in order to make maximum use of the natural light.

In the middle area of each floor all the service functions are allocated: a wide hall at the ground floor, which extends from the entrance, located in the centre of the south façade, to the staircases at the north; waiting areas and spaces for office archives develop according to the longitudinal direction, from the end of the hall (where a reception is located); two toilets, one for men and one for women with handicap friendly facilities are placed symmetrically at both sides of the hall.

The last floor only differs in having four office rooms more, instead of the two meeting rooms of the lower floors. Moreover, a footbridge, placed in the north side, connects the building with the Lab and technology centre.

At the first and second floors, the area that corresponds to the hall in the ground floor is an open space that lets natural light to illuminate the big hall, coming through a triangle shaped skylight in the roof. This solution will allow to gain more daylight for the hall and waiting areas.

For the building we chose a system of columns-beans. The loaded structure of the building is made of reinforced concrete.

The building is projected in accordance with the law, as regards both the removal of architectural barriers and fire prevention regulations. In fact, the building is accessible from outside, there being the ground floor (no stairs at the entrance), and inside thanks to the two elevators that allow to reach the different levels.

The fire exits and the fire escape ladders are located in the north side of each floor.

The facades are quite simple, with clean lines and uniformity, as the project seeks: horizontal strip windows give light to the rooms, forming straight and uniform rows that mark the plain concrete surfaces.

In the middle of the main façade, the south orientated one, a big glass surface rises to the full height of the façade, ending with triangular shape, to mark the presence of the wide hall behind it.

In the north façade the strip windows are cut off by another wide glass surface, rectangle shaped, in correspondence of the whole staircases of the building.

Type of contract

For this project, the University of Giessen decided to appeal to a partnering for carrying out the construction of the buildings.

After an invitation to tender, which allows to choose the different partners, the project team begins to develop a project planning and realizes the design of the construction. The team is composed of the client (in this case the director of Giessen University), the architect and the contractors.

A mediator, with technical expertise, will intermediate between the different actors.

This partnership can be compared to a "public-private partnership", being the contractor the private part (which can be investor, bank or construction companies), responsible of the financing, construction and maintenance of the public buildings. It allows the public part (here the University) to spread out the payment over the time. The public partner pays a rent to the construction company when the building is completed, reimbursing the investment of the company, and the duration can go from 20 to 50 years.

With this type of contract several are the advantages for both parts: risks are shared between the university and the construction company; each participant to the project has common objectives: to finish the building to be paid; better maintenance of the infrastructure, being the construction company responsible of this phase.

The analysis

The importance of a right behaviour

Some "rules" to enhance the trust factor in a partnering relationship are suggested as follow [10]. As said before, trust is important to carry out a project in the way as right as possible.

The first thing to do is to start off on the right foot. Trust is a very important issue because only in a relationship where people can trust each other, they can be open and can come out with their problems without thinking of being treated unfairly. A partnering will never work if there is no trust between parties. It can be achieved only when members consistently are working on their joint goals.

It is essential to have great communications at and between all levels of planning, designing, and construction. To achieve a quality end-product the phases of the process must be linked well through communications, understanding, and trust. Teamwork is the answer.

Another key point for the success of this project could be for the client to repeat the collaboration with construction companies with which it has already worked previously. Of course, this partnering should have been successful.

In case of series of collaborations, the participants of the partnering will be motivated also by the future gains and not only by the immediate gains. Furthermore, to repeat collaboration will create affecting links between the parties [17], and will allow to have good communication and to avoid conflicts.

So, for the project of the Giessen University, the different participants have to learn working together. To have trust in each other some techniques exist (see above), but the unfolding of the meeting can help to build this trust as well.

Roles and responsibilities of each partner

For partnering to work each team members has to know his own job and role in the collaboration. So, by assuming the own responsibility, each one has to carry on his work correctly, respecting the work of the others and following the partnering charter. Suggestions for change and proposals for solutions can be suggested by everyone.

First, the client has to set up a detailed program and to establish the criteria for the meeting, preparing a complete schedule of the different workshops. Our client has to think more to the users' interest than to the design [2]. Moreover, the client has to define clearly what he wants, helped in this by the mediator who, with his expertise, transmits client's ideas into technical propositions. The client can be considered the supervisor of the meeting, because he knows exactly what he wants (the director of the university knows exactly what he wants for it, what he is looking for). But, like the other parties, he has to follow the partnering charter which defines main rules, mutual goals and objectives of the partnering participants.

Then, the architect prepares with the client the design phase, this is just a first model, the final one has to include a consultation of the other participants. The team has to share every decision all over the project. The architect has to communicate effectively with client body, construction team and his design team, so to allow everybody to understand what has to be done.

The project manager assists the team to monitor and maintain the progress of the project. His role is to control cost against budget forecast. The project manager team prepares quality assurance and safety plan.

The main contractor has to produce a plan of the construction works. He also co-ordinates the practical activities on the construction site. The contractor monitors the subcontractors' work. After each meeting, it could be interesting that somebody of the team writes minutes meeting, in which to describe the main issues discussed and the problems met. These documents could let a trace of what has been said and could help in case of future disputes.

Team work

Partnering establishes a working relationship among all of the team members based on a mutually agreeable plan of cooperation and teamwork, so to avoid claims and litigation.

But the opportunities of developing communication and of building relationships during the workshop can exist at the outside of the formal agenda.

For example, as the workshops begin with the breakfast, this is a good time to mix and to converse. Lunch is a great chance for building relationships as well. Maximize this opportunity by making lunch part of the workshop: keep the participants together and separate from others not in the workshop [26].

During the workshops, it is much easier for everyone to contribute in a small group, than being one of two dozen. Likewise, the members in a small group will understand the members of their group much better than they will understand the other participants of the workshop.

The team members should be informed of the programme and the specific dates of workshops as soon as possible. They should be actively encouraged by their managers and directors to reserve these dates in their diaries and to make any effort in order to maintain the drive towards an integrated team.

When somebody wants to cancel a workshop, he has to prevent all the members of the team. But cancellation of workshops dampens enthusiasm, loses the team's momentum and risks the relationship. Cancellation could be a risk of discord.

Consequently, to avoid any kind of disputes, the workshops have to take place in an environment of harmony; everybody has his tasks and has to be listened by the others. A professional rigor and an acceptance of the other competences are necessary.

Dispute resolution plan

The literature overview offers important lessons for carrying out a good partnering work.

The dispute resolution plan helps to establish a common understanding of the processes that you will use to resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

In the case of project of Giessen university, the collaboration between the architect and the contractor is not new, it's based on previous experiences that are now useful to establish the dispute plan. In fact, they can use the past experiences to understand how and why conflicts arose, and then to draw the conclusions.

The repeated collaborations on different projects offer examples of behaviours to assume or not to assume during the project, of things to do or not to do again, so avoiding the recurrence of the same errors.

CONCLUSION

Partnering, as a construction management approach, is becoming more and more used as an important way to improve relationships between providers (contractors) and recipients (clients) of a construction product or service, based on a mutually agreeable plan of cooperation and teamwork.

It seeks to create a new cooperative attitude in completing contracts avoiding claims thanks to a series of key elements which it is based on: trust, cooperation, communication, teamwork and attainment of mutual goals.

The first step is to establish mutual trust and close communication in the group, so that each team member can feel comfortable in the work environment, respects his colleagues and learns to work together. Each participant has to know his own work in the group, cooperating in achieving the common goals and sharing the risks.

It's important that these working relationships install from the beginning of the process, from the design to the construction phase. All meet together at the start, establish each person's goals and work out a solution where all can have his/her needs met: all are happy and have become successfully through the synergy of the team, which is now a tight enthusiastic group ready to move to the execution phase.

But what makes partnering an important tool for the completion of the construction process is the existence of a mechanism for problem resolution which ensures an amicable, fair settlement of most disputes.

As seen in this report, disputes arise during the building design and construction process because of the high number of people involved, and of different interests and goals to achieve, and for changes that are a natural part of the construction process. With changes come problems and of course costly litigation. Partnering doesn't eliminate changes, on the contrary each participant is able to ask for changes and to say what he thinks, and this will enhance confidence within the team.

Partnering provides a method of solving conflicts easily, before they escalate turning into arbitration and litigation: thanks to the dispute resolution plan problems can be solved most easily during the planning or design phase of a project.

As the nature and consequences of a dispute cannot be predicted in advance, with partnering process and a well structured dispute resolution, problems are addressed in their proper prospective, keeping the parties focused on key project goals and objectives, and finally moving the problem through the process toward resolution.

To conclude, partnering represents the future for the construction field, as the right way to save time and money, the main important issues to consider in a project, and to assure the best relationship between the parties involved in the process.

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