Considering the cooperative relationship between owners and contractors in sustainable construction projects, as well as the synergistic effects created by cooperative behaviors, a cooperative incentive model was developed using game theory. The model was formulated and analyzed under both non-moral hazard and moral hazard situations. Then, a numerical simulation and example were proposed to verify the conclusions derived from the model. The results showed that the synergistic effect increases the input intensity of one party’s resource transfer into the increase of marginal utility of the other party, thus the owner and contractor are willing to enhance their levels of effort. One party’s optimal benefit allocation coefficient is positively affected by its own output efficiency, and negatively affected by the other party’s output efficiency. The effort level and expected benefits of the owner and contractor can be improved by enhancing the cooperative relationship between the two parties, as well as enhancing the net benefits of a sustainable construction project. The synergistic effect cannot lower the negative effect of moral hazard behaviors during the implementation of sustainable construction projects. Conversely, the higher levels of the cooperative relationship, the wider the gaps amongst the optimal values under both non-moral hazard and moral hazard situations for the levels of effort, expected benefits and net project benefits. Since few studies to date have emphasized the effects of cooperative relationship on sustainable construction projects, this study constructed a game-based incentive model to bridge the gaps. This study contributes significant theoretical and practical insights into the management of cooperation amongst stakeholders, and into the enhancement of the overall benefits of sustainable construction projects.
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