Scoring rules and abnormally low bids criteria in construction tenders: a taxonomic review

© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. In the global construction context, the best value or most economically advantageous tender is becoming a widespread approach for contractor selection, as an alternative to other traditional awarding criteria such as the lowest price. In these multi-attribute tenders, the owner or auctioneer solicits proposals containing both a price bid and additional technical features. Once the proposals are received, each bidder’s price bid is given an economic score according to a scoring rule, generally called an economic scoring formula (ESF) and a technical score according to pre-specified criteria. Eventually, the contract is awarded to the bidder with the highest weighted overall score (economic + technical). However, economic scoring formula selection by auctioneers is invariably and paradoxically a highly intuitive process in practice, involving few theoretical or empirical considerations, despite having been considered traditionally and mistakenly as objective, due to its mathematical nature. This paper provides a taxonomic classification of a wide variety of ESFs and abnormally low bids criteria (ALBC) gathered in several countries with different tendering approaches. Practical implications concern the optimal design of price scoring rules in construction contract tenders, as well as future analyses of the effects of the ESF and ALBC on competitive bidding behaviour.