Driving Program Delivery Forward? A Case Study of Owner–Supplier Collaboration in Infrastructure Development

Bresnen, Mike and Lennie, Sarah-Jane (2023). Driving Program Delivery Forward? A Case Study of Owner–Supplier Collaboration in Infrastructure Development. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management [Early Access].

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/tem.2023.3282743

Abstract

Despite the growth of interest in collaborative working on major public sector projects and programs of work, research on the processes and dynamics of relational contracting in this context is still scarce. Yet, such research can generate important insights into the enabling and inhibiting conditions of collaboration in such institutional contexts, as well as more widely; it can also add to our understanding of what relational contracting means in practice for public sector organizations expected to operate in more commercial ways. This article delivers on these aims by examining the case of a U.K. government body responsible for delivering major new programs of infrastructure development, which was embarking on a journey toward collaborative working with its main suppliers. Research was conducted over a two-year period and data were collected via interviews, direct observation, and documentation. The principal contribution of the research is in demonstrating the fundamental impact that internal organizational structural/cultural conditions have upon shaping external relational contracting (and vice versa) and how the dynamics of the relationship created divergence in the trajectories of collaboration across projects, with resultant implications for achieving wider program integration.

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