Inter-organizational interactions among a sample of plant-reliant construction sub-contractors

Holt, Gary David and Edwards, David J. (2013) Inter-organizational interactions among a sample of plant-reliant construction sub-contractors. Engineering Project Organization Journal, 3 (2). pp. 100-115. ISSN 2157-3727

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Plant-reliant sub-contractors (PrSC), being those who rely heavily on mechanization to provide specialist work packages, are profuse in the construction sector. Their market is highly competitive; hence, to sustain profitable utilization of their mechanized fleets requires effective business exchanges, mutually beneficial trading relationships and inter-organizational trust—but in reality, these ideals are not always satisfied. These and other inter-organizational mechanisms are qualitatively investigated through nine case study PrSC companies. Data were accrued via unstructured interviews, coded and thematically examined using narrative analysis, to define distinct and related constructs. Findings highlight the negative impacts of recent macroeconomic downturn and austerity, cutthroat competition, ‘one-sided’ business dealing, loss of trust and strained business relationships. Key concerns from the analysis that relate to the engineering project community include lack of PrSC investment in mechanized assets, breakdown of mutual organizational interfaces, potential for incongruous business dealings and an air of financial instability. While conducted in a UK context, international construction market pressures mean that the findings will be of interest beyond this geographical boundary.

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