Organizing municipal procurement of civil works and the perceived conditions for promoting innovation
Abstract: Construction research brings attention to the persistent efficiency and productivity issues in the industry which often are related to a lack of innovation in the sector. To tackle these issues, considerable research has been focused on improved procurement practices, as it is seen that choosing the optimum procurement strategy can promote the development of innovative solutions, thereby resulting in improved efficiency and productivity in the sector. Moreover, research and numerous policy initiatives highlight that public clients play an important role in promoting innovation and improving the overall efficiency and productivity level in the sector through improved procurement practices. Still, this is an area in need of continued improvement since many public clients still frequently rely on traditional and rigid procurement practices which inhibit the potential for innovation to take place. Furthermore, promoting innovation in the procurement of civil works requires interprofessional collaboration between construction project managers and procurers, which can be difficult to achieve since research has shown that interprofessional tensions between these professional groups may occur. Considering the relevance and importance of the subject the research aims to study how technical functions and procurement functions are organized in the procurement of civil works and how project managers and procurers collaborate during the process. The study has also investigated the perceived conditions for promoting innovation in the procurement of civil works by project managers and procurers. The aim was achieved through a case study of four Swedish municipalities where the empirical data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with project managers and procurers in the municipalities. The findings showed that the studied municipalities largely lacked organizational resources conducive for innovation-oriented procurement of civil works. The findings suggested that the support and commitment for innovation within the civil engineering field was modest in the municipalities, however, there existed strong support for innovation in other areas such as within IT. Still, there exists a willingness among project managers to promote innovation and increase the efficiency in the civil works contract and the findings indicated that the project managers and procurers were better equipped for focusing on incremental innovations rather than radical innovations. Furthermore, opportunities for promoting innovations were discussed and identified. For example, setting higher and more project-specific environmental requirements in projects could improve the potential of increased efficiency and development of innovative solutions in the civil works.
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