Italian Economic Journal

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 39–77 | Cite as

Does the Project Design Matter for the Performance of Infrastructure Execution? An Assessment for Italy

  • Marina Cavalieri
  • Rossana Cristaudo
  • Livio Ferrante
  • Calogero GuccioEmail author
Research Paper - Italy and Europe


This paper aims at analysing the impact of the design phase on performance in public works execution. In the extant literature, the design phase is recognised as one of the possible determinants of inefficiency in public works execution. Despite this, the empirical evidence on the topic remains scarce. Using a large dataset of public works awarded in Italy in 2008–2014, we investigate empirically the relationship between the different choices made in the design phase and performance in public works execution. Our empirical findings show that the presence of an external designer is associated with higher cost and time renegotiations. The issue is especially relevant for small municipalities that rely more heavily on external designers, possibly because of the limited expertise available within their technical offices. Furthermore, regardless of the way the design is managed (in-house or not), we find that design and build contracts do not influence the efficient provision of public works. From a public policy perspective, our findings offer some support to the recent reform of the Italian public procurement regulation that has introduced new accreditation requirements for contracting authorities.


Public procurement Performance in contract execution Design phase internal/external designer Design and build contracts 

JEL Classification

L51 H57 



We wish to thank two anonymous referees for their careful review, and the managing editor, Professor Roberta Rabellotti, for her helpful advice. The usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.University of MessinaMessinaItaly

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