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Ontology for Relating Risk and Vulnerability to Cost Overrun in International Projects

Risk management is about identifying risks, assessing their impacts, and developing mitigation strategies to ensure project success. The difference between the expected and actual project outcomes is usually attributed to risk events and how they are managed throughout the project. Although there are several reference frameworks that explain how risks can be managed in construction projects, a major bottleneck is the lack of a common vocabulary for risk-related concepts. Poor definition of risk and patterns of risk propagation in a project decrease the reliability of risk models that are constructed to simulate project outcomes under different risk occurrence scenarios. This study aims to extend previous studies in risk management by presenting an ontology for relating risk-related concepts to cost overrun. The major idea is that cost overrun depends on causal relations between various risk sources (namely, risk paths) and sources of vulnerability that interfere with these paths. Ontology is used to develop a database system that represents risk event histories of international construction projects and to construct a model for estimation of cost overrun. It will form the basis of a multiagent system that can be used to simulate the negotiation process among project participants about sharing of costs considering the risk allocation clauses in the contract, sources of vulnerability, and causal relations between risk events and their impacts. The ontology is constructed by interaction with Turkish contractors working in international markets and extensive literature review on risk-related concepts. The validation test results provide evidence that the ontology is fairly effective to help Turkish contractors to assess cost overrun by considering sources of vulnerability and risk in international construction projects. DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)CP.1943-5487.0000090. (C) 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.