Helena Haapio, LL.M., of Lexpert Ltd., has defended her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled Next Generation Contracts: A Paradigm Shift, at a public examination held 29 November 2013 at the University of Vaasa.
Here is an excerpt from the abstract of the dissertation:
[...] There has been little change in the appearance — look and feel — of contracts in decades. Old habits and templates prevail, and not much contract innovation occurs; companies and their contract crafters follow self-reinforcing historically generated paths. This research identifies ways to think differently and depart from the traditional path, using perspectives, principles and tools of proactive law and design science as signposts.
This work aims to provide a basis for generating new kinds of contracts. The goal is to enable contracts to be used as managerial instruments, proactively, ex ante, so that the parties achieve the objectives of their collaboration, balance risk with reward, and prevent problems and disputes. This requires a new mindset, user-centered contract design, and managerial-legal collaboration: first and foremost, a transformation from a classical legal paradigm to a new paradigm.
The dissertation consists of an Overview and nine publications, which approach the conceptualization, design, and use of contracts from different perspectives. The work examines the causes of contracts’ current dysfunction, ways to resolve them, and criteria for “good” contracts, after which it develops a vision of Next Generation Contracts. The most visible innovation value of this research is in contract visualization, which can accelerate a paradigm shift in contract thinking and help implement the new thinking.
The work focuses on commercial contracts in international business. It examines questions grounded in practice, seeking research-based, practice-oriented answers. At the same time it seeks to show how crossing the boundaries of traditional professions and research fields and using non-traditional thinking and communication can produce results, rich in their potential to generate theoretical and practical contributions and valuable business innovation.
Here are citations to the publications concerning contract/legal visualization, that are included in the dissertation:
- Haapio, H., Berger-Walliser, G., Walliser, B., & Rekola, K. (2012, Summer). Time for a Visual Turn in Contracting? Journal of Contract Management, 10, 49-57 (full text).
- Haapio, H. (2013). Visualising Contracts for Better Business. In D. J. B. Svantesson & S. Greenstein (Eds.), Internationalisation of Law in the Digital Information Society. Nordic Yearbook of Law and Informatics 2010-2012. Copenhagen: Ex Tuto Publishing, 285-310.
- Passera, S. & Haapio, H. (2011). User-Centered Contract Design: New Directions in the Quest for Simpler Contracting. In R. F. Henschel (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2011 IACCM Academic Symposium for Contract and Commercial Management. Ridgefield, CT: IACCM. 80-97.
- Passera, S. & Haapio, H. (2013, April). Transforming Contracts from Legal Rules to Human-Centered Communication Tools: A Human-Information Interaction Challenge. Communication Design Quarterly Review, 1(3), 38-45 (full text).
Thanks to Helena Haapio for allowing me to post this information.