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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 6 July 2022

Klara Granheimer, Tina Karrbom Gustavsson and Per Erik Eriksson

Prior research has emphasised the importance of the early phases of construction projects, as well as the difficulties of procuring engineering services – especially due…

Abstract

Purpose

Prior research has emphasised the importance of the early phases of construction projects, as well as the difficulties of procuring engineering services – especially due to the uncertainties. Despite that, studies on the public procurement of engineering services are scarce. Although scholars have shown that uncertainty may affect the choice of control modes, the level of uncertainty that characterises services is not addressed by the two task characteristics: knowledge of the transformation process and output measurability. The purpose is to investigate organisational control in public procurement of engineering services.

Design/methodology/approach

The existing control model was adjusted in this study by conceptually adding uncertainty as a third aspect to the two task characteristics. A single case study of the Swedish Transport Administration was used. The empirical data, comprising 14 interviews with managers from the client and engineering consulting companies, were analysed using flexible pattern matching and visual mapping approaches and then illustrated using the model.

Findings

The public client did not base its choice of control modes on uncertainty, but rather on the other two task characteristics. Consequently, the service providers argued that the chosen control modes reduced their creativity, increased their financial risks and caused unclear responsibilities. This study therefore shows that uncertainty is an important factor to consider in the choice of control modes, both from a theoretical perspective and from the service providers' point of view. The developed model may therefore be useful for researchers as well as practitioners.

Originality/value

This study is the first attempt to add uncertainty as a task characteristic when choosing control modes. The results contribute to the scarce control literature regarding the procurement of engineering services for construction projects and the procurement of other services with high uncertainty.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Per Erik Eriksson

The purpose of this study is to investigate how procurement strategies may be designed to facilitate exploration and exploitation in construction projects.

9941

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate how procurement strategies may be designed to facilitate exploration and exploitation in construction projects.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a literature review of organizational research and construction management literature together with a brief interview study of Swedish clients and contractors.

Findings

The theoretical and empirical findings propose that small and simple projects with low uncertainty and scarce resources may focus on exploitation to enhance short-term efficiency through traditional procurement strategies including delivery systems that separate the actors and their activities (i.e. pure design-build- or design-bid-build-contracts), fixed price payment and price focus in bid evaluation. Large complex projects with high uncertainty and customization benefit from combining exploration and exploitation to enhance sustainable performance. This requires collaborative procurement strategies including joint specification through early contractor involvement, cost reimbursement coupled with incentive-based payment, bid evaluation based on multiple criteria and collaborative tools and activities in partnering arrangements.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to organizational learning literature by pinpointing the need for integrating procurement strategies that enhance combination of exploration and exploitation. The main contribution to the construction management literature involves the investigation of how procurement strategies may affect exploration and exploitation, as identified and articulated in the propositions developed in this paper.

Practical implications

From a practical perspective, the findings highlight the importance of tailoring procurement strategies to project characteristics to enhance a suitable balance between exploration and exploitation in construction projects.

Originality/value

The explicit focus on the operational project-level is uncommon but relevant in organizational learning literature.

Details

Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-4387

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 21 July 2022

Anna-Therése Järvenpää, Johan Larsson and Per Erik Eriksson

This paper aims to identify how a public client’s use of control systems (process, output and social control) affect innovation possibilities in construction projects.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify how a public client’s use of control systems (process, output and social control) affect innovation possibilities in construction projects.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews about six infrastructure projects were conducted to identify respondents’ views on innovation possibilities. These possibilities were then analyzed from an organizational control perspective within principal–agent relationships between the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) and their contractors.

Findings

How the client uses control systems affects innovation possibilities. Relying on process control could negatively affect innovation opportunities, whereas output control could have a positive influence. In addition, social control seems to have a weak effect, as the STA appears not to use social control to facilitate joint innovation. Public clients must comply with the Public Procurement Act and, therefore, retain the requirements specified in the tendering documents. Much of the steering of the execution is connected to the ex ante phase (before signing the contract), which affects innovation possibilities in the design and execution phases for the contractor.

Research limitations/implications

This study was conducted with only one client, thus limiting its generalizability. However, the findings provide an important stepping stone to further investigation into balancing control systems and creating innovation possibilities in a principal–agent relationship.

Originality/value

Although public procurement has increasingly been emphasized as a major potential source of innovation, studying how a public client’s use of organizational control systems affects innovation possibilities in the construction sector has received scant attention.

Details

Construction Innovation , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 October 2017

Per Erik Eriksson and Henrik Szentes

Prior studies highlight the importance of building ambidextrous capabilities to achieve both exploitation of current knowledge and technologies to make profits today, and…

Abstract

Purpose

Prior studies highlight the importance of building ambidextrous capabilities to achieve both exploitation of current knowledge and technologies to make profits today, and exploration of new knowledge and technologies to adapt to and prepare for tomorrow’s demands. In spite of its theoretical and practical importance, research on organizational ambidexterity in project-based organizations is scarce. Thus, the purpose of the paper is to study how ambidexterity may be managed and how exploration and exploitation may be achieved in construction projects. The research identifies some drivers and barriers to exploration and exploitation and also sheds light on how various management approaches interact and affect exploration and exploitation activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical material is drawn from 40 semi-structured interviews with managers representing the client, the contractor and the designer involved in each of the seven large construction projects in the sample.

Findings

In contrast to prior literature in high-tech industries where exploitation focuses on continuous development, exploitation in construction projects often involves adopting conventional methods and solutions based on existing knowledge without any development efforts at all. This may enhance short-term efficiency and lower risk at the project level but increase risk at the firm level. Tight time schedules hinder both radical innovations and incremental developments, and the findings also reveal that to invest in efforts on explorative solutions, it must be possible to exploit the solutions in the same project.

Research limitations/implications

In this empirical context, the traditional structural and sequential ambidexterity solutions are not sufficient. In construction projects, contextual ambidexterity solutions in which key project actors collaborate in developing systemic innovations and fine-tuning solutions across projects are more effective.

Practical implications

Sufficient project size and/or long-term contracts over a series of projects enhance both investments in explorative activities and exploitation through continuous developments from project to project. In design–bid–build contracts, the client and consultant often miss opportunities to explore new technical solutions that rely on contractor competencies. Early procurement of contractors (e.g. in collaborative design–build contracts) thereby enables the achievement of both exploration and exploitation.

Originality/value

This study provides important input to the authors’ understanding of how exploration and exploitation may be managed in project-based industries, which has been scarcely studied in previous ambidexterity literature.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 October 2018

Susanna Hedborg Bengtsson, Tina Karrbom Gustavsson and Per Erik Eriksson

Innovation is constantly present in the construction industry, however, mainly on a single project level. Initiating and implementing inter-organizational innovation in a…

Abstract

Purpose

Innovation is constantly present in the construction industry, however, mainly on a single project level. Initiating and implementing inter-organizational innovation in a multi-project context such as in urban development entails large complexity, for example, because of the many interdependent projects and users of innovation. The users’ influence on inter-organizational innovation in a multi-project context has not been fully explored. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to discuss how users influence inter-organizational innovation in multi-project contexts by mapping the receptiveness for change.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study approach was used, where empirical material including semi-structured interviews in combination with meeting observations, document studies and participative workshops were gathered. The rich empirical material, studying inter-organizational innovation in an urban development context, was mapped based on the receptive context for change framework.

Findings

A receptive context for change was not present in the studied multi-project context. Communication to develop and implement inter-organizational innovation was not sufficient and the clients’ procurement strategies were to a large extent not developed to facilitate inter-organizational innovation. Findings show differences in users’ possibility and aim to implement inter-organizational innovation.

Originality/value

The mapping of the receptive context to influence inter-organizational innovation widens the knowledge base and provides valuable insights on how inter-organizational innovation may be implemented in the loosely coupled construction industry. Furthermore, the findings broaden the discussion on clients as innovation supporters, and contribute to the debate on clients as innovation supporters, by highlighting the importance of distinguishing between different types of clients.

Details

Construction Innovation, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 10 June 2021

Emilia Nilsson Vestola, Per Erik Eriksson, Johan Larsson and Tina Karrbom Gustavsson

The purpose of this paper is to explore the interdependencies between temporary and permanent aspects of project organizing and how they affect the management of public…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the interdependencies between temporary and permanent aspects of project organizing and how they affect the management of public infrastructure operation and maintenance (O&M) activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper applies a case study approach and uses Lundin and Söderholm's (1995) framework of the temporary organization (with the themes of time, task, team and transition) to distinguish between temporary and permanent aspects of organizing two infrastructure O&M projects.

Findings

This paper adds to the literature on temporary organizations by recognizing a mixture of temporary and permanent aspects of project organizing in an empirical project-level example. In line with previous research, the themes of time, task, team and transition were shown to be interdependent. Furthermore, the paper broadens the theory of temporary organizations by presenting a project organization with significant permanent aspects.

Practical implications

Project managers of public sector projects need to be aware of the possible mixture of temporary and permanent aspects of project organizing. Management of projects that are found to have a mixture of temporary and permanent aspects should combine the perspectives and management practices of both temporary and permanent organizing. Not acknowledging permanent aspects could lead to management that is not adapted to the prerequisites of project organizing in this context.

Originality/value

The findings further develop the literature on temporary organizations by recognizing that there is not only a mixture of temporary and permanent aspects between the temporary organization and its permanent environment but there is also a mixture of temporary and permanent aspects of organizing within project organizations.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 14 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 April 2018

Johan Larsson, Per Erik Eriksson and Ossi Pesämaa

Hard project management practices, based on strict planning and control, are traditionally applied in construction projects, although research frequently promotes the…

3611

Abstract

Purpose

Hard project management practices, based on strict planning and control, are traditionally applied in construction projects, although research frequently promotes the importance of teams for various project outcomes. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to examine the importance of hard project management and team motivation for process performance in construction projects. A hypothesis tested is that hard project management can impair process performance if team motivation is not promoted.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents and empirically tests a structural equation model, with and without a mediating link between hard project management and process performance, based on data from a survey of 2,175 respondents, representing contractors and clients involved in 109 Swedish construction projects.

Findings

The results confirm that hard project management is best conveyed through teams to enhance process performance. “Path analysis,” using the model with the mediating link, confirms that neglecting team motivation can significantly impair process performance.

Research limitations/implications

The data set provides unusually high representation of views of contractors and clients involved in diverse Swedish construction projects. Thus, the results have likely relevance in other project-based industries and/or national settings, but this possibility requires further investigation.

Originality/value

The findings show that team motivation is a key process performance factor; hard project management may indeed be important, but its effects will be enhanced by (and partially mediated through) team motivation. Thus, the findings have important theoretical and practical implications for the development of project management practices.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 November 2009

Per Erik Eriksson, Brian Atkin and TorBjörn Nilsson

The purpose of this paper is to report on research into investigating ways in which construction clients can overcome barriers to partnering through the adoption of…

3820

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on research into investigating ways in which construction clients can overcome barriers to partnering through the adoption of purposeful procurement procedures within an overall project management context.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through interviews, document analysis, surveys and workshops as part of a longitudinal case study using an action‐research approach.

Findings

Analysis reveals how the early involvement of partners, selected for their long‐term perspective and willingness to use collaborative working arrangements, can help to overcome cultural and organizational barriers.

Research limitations/implications

The research results are based on empirical study for which reasonable generalisations could be made, albeit cautiously. Clients' implementation of partnering requires an appropriate use of a broad range of suitable procurement procedures that are quite different from more commonly used procedures. Hence, clients need to reassess their procurement procedures and tailor them to different project situations. Additionally, a long‐term perspective is crucial in order to facilitate continual improvement over time.

Originality/value

The case study data support the analysis of how utilised procurement procedures affect project results.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 16 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 July 2007

Per Erik Eriksson and Albertus Laan

This paper aims to investigate how construction clients currently deal with procurement and to analyse how the choices made during the buying process stages affect the…

5097

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how construction clients currently deal with procurement and to analyse how the choices made during the buying process stages affect the combination of governance mechanisms and control types in client‐contractor relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical data were collected through a survey of 87 Swedish construction clients.

Findings

Current procurement procedures establish governance forms facilitating a focus on price, through output control, and authority, through process control. Since construction transactions are mostly characterized by high complexity and customisation and long duration, the theoretical framework prescribes a focus on trust and a somewhat lower focus on price and authority. Hence, from a transaction cost perspective, construction clients focus too much on price and authority and too little on trust. Since current procedures may cause problems in all stages of the buying process, the result suggests that partnering arrangements, entailing completely different choices during the buying process, may be a suitable way to facilitate trust and cooperation through informal social control.

Research limitations/implications

Since the empirical results are based on data collected from only Swedish clients, international generalizations should be made cautiously.

Practical implications

Clients wishing to implement trust‐based collaborative relationships need to reconsider their procurement procedures entirely; joint objectives, teambuilding and other “fuzzy” techniques are not enough to transform adversarial relationships into cooperative ones.

Originality/value

Earlier research has focused on one or a few aspects of procurement and governance, while this paper adopts an overall process perspective, taking into account clients' procurement procedures in their entirety.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 November 2008

Per Erik Eriksson, TorBjörn Nilsson and Brian Atkin

The purpose of this paper is to identify critical barriers to partnering, as perceived by construction clients, and the specific measures that are taken to overcome them…

3091

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify critical barriers to partnering, as perceived by construction clients, and the specific measures that are taken to overcome them during implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical data were collected through a survey study of 87 professional construction clients in Sweden.

Findings

Clients regard the most critical barriers as those attributable to cultural and organisational aspects. The analysis also shows that clients' perceptions of these barriers do not, in fact, affect their procurement procedures. Two‐thirds of clients in the survey wish to increase cooperation with actors in the belief that it will favour project success. Their intention does not have any bearing on their procurement and project management procedures, which are still aligned to competitive bidding. Two potential reasons for this inconsistency are discussed: clients may be unaware of how their procurement procedures affect cooperation, and/or the individual decision maker may not have strong enough incentives to start using new and less familiar procurement procedures even though they are potentially more suitable than traditional procedures.

Research limitations/implications

The quantitative data are limited to clients' perceptions of barriers to partnering; a contractor perspective is not included in the survey.

Practical implications

The research results can serve as an alert for construction clients that their procurement procedures need to be adapted if they want to achieve the move towards increased cooperation that they say they do.

Originality/value

This paper offers a unique analysis of the correlations between desired outcome in the form of increased cooperation, and actual behaviour in the form of procurement procedures.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 15 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

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