BIM Value Creation: Contingency and Configuration Perspectives


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date16 Aug 2023


The pillar position of the construction industry is prominent for the world economy. However, most construction projects still suffer from many challenges of low productivity, high pollution, and frequent accidents, preventing sustainable development. Therefore, the need for a thorough transformation is now widely recognized for the construction industry. Particularly, transformation through digital technologies (i.e., digital transformations) is one of the most powerful and effective paths. As the core digital technology in the construction industry, building information modeling (BIM) has become especially significant and an increasing number of construction projects are now BIM-enabled. Nevertheless, although BIM’s advantages are apparent, they are still under-obtained by most BIM-enabled construction projects (BECPs), calling for a systematic investigation of BIM value creation. Existing studies have proposed multiple critical success factors to promote effective BIM use, yet few ever examine how BIM value can be created through these factors. Until now, there still lack reasonable theoretical explanations regarding the underlying BIM value creation mechanisms. This study intends to conduct a preliminary exploration of this research blank by investigating how BIM value can be created through collaboration. To achieve this goal, the following research works were conducted.

First, through a comprehensive review, this study developed a conceptual model describing BIM value creation through collaboration. As a typical inter-organizational information system, BIM depends on collaboration to gain its value and advantages. However, traditional linear and separate collaboration modes, if kept in BECPs, would offset the benefits of BIM as a fundamental boundary-spanning tool. Hence, traditional separate collaboration should be transformed into an integrated mode in BECPs to achieve full BIM benefits, for which effective collaborative behaviors aligned with Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) philosophy should be existent to support this transformation. Therefore, to uncover the underlying BIM value creation mechanisms through collaboration, it is necessary to identify those effective collaborative behaviors and examine their impacts on BIM value creation. This study utilized qualitative and quantitative research strategies to comprehensively investigate the research problem.

Second, this study adopted semi-structured interviews as the qualitative method to identify effective collaborative behaviors supporting integrated collaboration in BECPs. The IPD philosophy was taken as the theoretical lens, and the grounded theory approach was utilized to deduce the collaborative behaviors based on semi-structured interviews about 34 BECPs in China. Six collaborative behavior categories were identified, namely adaptive behavior, server investment behavior, joint working behavior, information sharing behavior, harmonious behavior, and flexible behavior. Meanwhile, a preliminary theoretical model was established describing how these collaborative behaviors can be combined for BIM value creation. Based on the qualitative results, this study proposed the quantitative models and hypotheses for BIM value creation from both contingency and configuration perspectives.

Third, this study utilized questionnaire survey as the quantitative method to empirically validate the proposed contingency model and related hypotheses. 162 BECPs in China were surveyed. Through Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) analysis, this study tested each collaborative behavior category’s impact as well as their interaction impacts on the project BIM effectiveness (i.e., project BIM value). The results showed that adaptive behavior, information sharing behavior, and harmonious behavior significantly facilitated BIM use effectiveness, while joint working behavior decreased it. Flexible behavior and server investment behavior only positively impacted BIM use effectiveness of task effectiveness improvement, while their influences on task efficiency improvement were insignificant. Meanwhile, it was found that both adaptive behavior and server investment behavior gave rise to BIM effectiveness fully or partially through the information sharing behavior. In addition, both harmonious behavior and flexible behavior are validated to play moderating roles in different stages of BIM value creation. These results jointly help uncover the underlying mechanisms of BIM value creation through collaboration from a contingency perspective.

Finally, the questionnaire survey data was also utilized to tested the proposed configuration model and related hypotheses. Through Laten Profile Analysis (LPA), this study investigated potential collaboration profiles (i.e., collaborative behavior configurations) and examined whether BIM effectiveness differed across different collaboration profiles. Four collaboration profiles were concluded, including slight collaboration profile, smarmy collaboration profile, spontaneous collaboration profile, and moderate collaboration profile. Configurations of collaborative behavior categories of these collaboration profiles were quantitatively and qualitatively different from each other. Moreover, the results also indicated that BECPs characterized by different collaboration profiles depicted diversified BIM use effectiveness. Projects with spontaneous collaboration profile showed the best BIM use effectiveness, followed by projects with moderate and slight collaboration profile, and projects with smarmy collaboration profile achieved the worst BIM use effectiveness. The results jointly enrich the underlying mechanisms of BIM value creation through collaboration from a configuration perspective. Meanwhile, a systematic collaboration profile-oriented strategy selection framework is established to promote BIM use effectiveness.

This study advances BIM value creation research by systematically exploring how project BIM value can be created through collaboration. It identified those effective collaborative behaviors supporting integrated collaboration for BIM value achievement and empirically investigated how those collaborative behavior interacted and configured to impact BIM effectiveness. The results also can enlighten practitioners on utilizing proper collaborative behaviors or forming superior collaboration profiles to facilitate BIM value creation.

    Research areas

  • Building information modeling (BIM), BIM value creation, collaboration, collaborative behaviors, contingency and configuration perspectives