An exploratory study of contracting performance by untrained individuals
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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's findings provide the basis for a strong call for more and better training of contract officers in the DoD.;The following article is taken as an excerpt from the proceedings of the annual Acquisition Research Program. This annual event showcases the research projects funded through the Acquisition Research Program at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. Featuring keynote speakers, plenary panels, multiple panel sessions, a student research poster show and social events, the Annual Acquisition Research Symposium offers a candid environment where high-ranking Department of Defense (DoD) officials, industry officials, accomplished faculty and military students are encouraged to collaborate on finding applicable solutions to the challenges facing acquisition policies and processes within the DoD today. By jointly and publicly questioning the norms of industry and academia, the resulting research benefits from myriad perspectives and collaborations which can identify better solutions and practices in acquisition, contract, financial, logistics and program management.
Third Annual Acquisition Research Symposium
NPS Report NumberNPS-CM-06-092
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