Comparing Procurement Methods in Road Construction Projects : Influence on Uncertainty, Interaction and Knowledge
Abstract: The construction sector is often considered to show a number of limitations regarding efficiency and effectiveness, conclusions normally drawn irrespective of project procurement method used, and despite the common assumption that differences among approaches exist regarding these aspects. The study investigates differences and similarities among procurement methods using a longitudinal multi-case study based on two comparatively large infrastructure projects: a traditional so-called design-bid-build project and an unconventional so-called design-build-maintain project. The empirical part of the investigation, which in addition to the two focal projects mentioned also includes a number of prior and subsequent projects, was conducted based on literature studies, interviews and observations. The complex organizational phenomenon associated with each case was studied partly by interpreting each focal project as a small temporary network comprising a client, a contractor and a consultant, and partly any connections from the focal project to other projects of the organizational context. The influence of the procurement method was investigated using a model comprising the three concepts of uncertainty, interaction and knowledge. The empirical findings suggest that significant differences exist between the two approaches investigated regarding all three concepts. In principle, the traditional procurement approach resulted in low degrees of uncertainty, interaction and knowledge, while the unconventional project resulted in higher degrees. Although differences regarding the procurement methods can be observed by directly comparing the two focal projects, the influence of procurement method on uncertainty, interaction and knowledge gained becomes even more interesting if the time-frame is extended beyond the immediate projects studied. In particular, the comparison of the two cases presented indicates differences regarding the establishment of inter-project connections. The theoretical framework utilized in the study contributes to previous research by providing a way to characterize procurement methods, differences among them, and how knowledge is gained in relation to interaction and uncertainty.
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