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Title: Defining relational contracting from the Wittgenstein family-resemblance philosophy
Authors: Yeung, FY
Chan, APC 
Chan, DWM 
Issue Date: Feb-2012
Source: International journal of project management, Feb. 2012, v. 30, no. 2, p. 225-239
Abstract: There has been an increasing interest in the concept of relational contracting (RC) in construction starting from the late 1990s. RC embraces and underpins different forms of collaborative approaches, including partnering, alliancing, joint venture and other collaborative working arrangements and better risk sharing mechanisms. By applying Nyström's and Yeung et al.'s similar approaches to define construction partnering and construction alliancing respectively, this paper focuses on RC and family-resemblance. A significant contribution to new knowledge is believed to have been made in providing a concise and comprehensive approach in defining the similar and yet different key components of RC by using a Sunflower Model. The development of this innovative Model is based on the German philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein's family-resemblance philosophy. His idea is that a complex concept can be understood as a network of overlapping similarities. Based on the reported literature, it is concluded that there are always five core elements included in construction RC. They are “commitment”, “trust”, “cooperation and communication”, “common goals and objective”, and “win–win philosophy”. In addition to these core elements, a number of different non-core elements, or called petals, can be added to constitute a specific variant of RC in construction. The contribution can be of paramount importance to both the research community and the construction industry. By using this innovative theoretical framework to define construction RC, industrial practitioners may find the Sunflower Model useful in the procurement of a construction RC project. The Sunflower Model can be applied to explain the underlying concepts and as a common starting point for discussions between a client and a contractor on how to procure a RC project, thus avoiding any misinterpretations of what a RC project is.
Keywords: Relational contracting
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Sunflower Model
Publisher: Pergamon Press
Journal: International journal of project management 
ISSN: 0263-7863
EISSN: 1873-4634
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2011.06.002
Rights: International Journal of Project Management © 2011 Elsevier, PMA and IPMA. The journal web site is located at
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