Analysis of Dispute Review Boards Application in U.S. Construction Projects from 1975 to 2007

Since their first successful implementation in 1975, dispute review boards (DRBs) gained popularity as a standing neutral alternative dispute resolution (ADR) technique, and were implemented on a number of high profile construction projects in the United States and worldwide. The purpose of this study is to present a review, trend analysis, and classification of U.S. construction projects that had DRBs for the period of 1975–2007. Thus, a total of 1,042 U.S. construction projects that had DRB as part of their contract provisions are extracted from the Dispute Review Board Foundation database and are analyzed. The results of this study are presented in two major sections. In the first section, results of trend analysis are reported as growth in number of projects with DRB since 1975, as well as the distribution of these projects in terms of construction type (i.e., building, highway, and tunnel), and construction volume category. On the other hand, the second section includes the results of the analysis undertaken to study the mechanics of DRB application in construction projects. In this context, the effectiveness of DRB as a preventive measure against the escalation of conflicts to disputes is first studied. For those projects that had disputes heard by a DRB panel, the data was further analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the DRB as an ADR technique that can help in the resolution of a dispute at the project level without further escalation to arbitration or litigation. The results of the study indicate that DRBs have been successfully implemented in all three construction sectors in the United States. The effectiveness of DRB as a prevention technique was observed on approximately 50% of the 810 projects where no disputes were ever heard through a DRB panel formal hearing. For the remaining 50% of the projects, the effectiveness of DRB as an ADR technique was found to exceed 90% when comparing the number of disputes that were settled due to DRB recommendation to those that were actually heard during a DRB hearing session. Finally, the paper concludes with a set of questions and hypotheses that may be undertaken to explain the recorded observations, and set the way for future research efforts in this area.


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  • Accession Number: 01154659
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 8 2010 11:43AM