An Exploratory Study of Contracting Performance by Untrained Individuals

Report Number: NPS-CM-06-092

Series: Contract Management

Category: Contractor Performance

Report Series: Proceedings Paper

Authors: Ned Kock, Jacques Verville, Jesus Carmona

Title: An Exploratory Study of Contracting Performance by Untrained Individuals

Published: 2006-04-01

Sponsored By: Acquisition Research Program

Status: Published--Unlimited Distribution

Research Type: NPS Faculty

Full Text URL: http://acquisitionresearch.net/files/FY2006/NPS-CM-06-092.pdf

Keywords: Electronic Commerce, Electronic Trade, Web-based Contracts, Software Purchasing, Communication Media, Media Naturalness

Abstract:

This paper reports on an experimental study where 178 student subjects without formal training in contracting issues were asked to accept or reject each of 20 clauses of a software purchasing contract. The subjects used a Web-based interface to accept or reject clauses. Of the 20 clauses in the contract, 6 were intentionally deceitful, in the sense that they specified binding obligations that made it unadvisable to accept them as part of a contract. On average, the subjects were able to correctly accept approximately 11 out of 14 non-deceitful clauses. Somewhat surprisingly, the subjects were able to correctly reject only 2 out of 6 deceitful clauses. The study also suggests that, among untrained individuals, those who are older, have more general work experience, and have above-average scholastic ability are the ones more likely to perform well in contracting tasks under conditions similar to those found in this study (i.e., Web-based contracting conditions). This study