Owner’s Risk Allocation and Contractor’s Role Behavior in a Project: A Parallel-mediation Model

Zhichao Xu, Yilin Yin, Dahui Li, Glenn J. Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Risk allocation decisions are of critical importance in project management. The present study proposes an explanation for how risk allocation in a contract motivates a contractor to cooperate with a project owner. Theories of risk allocation and trust were used to motivate the research. Using a survey methodology, we collected data concerning 124 construction projects in China. We found that risk allocation influenced the contractor’s role behavior through the contractor’s feeling of being trusted but not the contractor’s trust in the owner. Feeling of being trusted partially mediated the effect of risk allocation on the contractor’s in-role (i.e., contractual) behavior and fully mediated the effect on extra-role behavior. The study introduces a social and psychological view of the impacts of risk allocation to the project and engineering management literature. We contribute to theory by arguing and demonstrating the mediating effect of trust on the relationship between risk allocation and contractor behavior. From a practical standpoint, we conclude that contractual risk allocation has a significant impact on building a trusting relationship between owners and contractors and that contractors who feel trusted perform both contractually mandated actions and actions external to the contract more diligently, resulting in the likelihood of improved outcomes for both parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalEMJ - Engineering Management Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant numbers 71172175, 71472135, and 91646117.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis.


  • Contractor
  • Engineering Management
  • Feeling of being Trusted
  • Owner
  • Project Management
  • Risk Allocation
  • Role Behavior
  • Trust


Dive into the research topics of 'Owner’s Risk Allocation and Contractor’s Role Behavior in a Project: A Parallel-mediation Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this