From project partnering towards strategic supplier partnering
Journal article, 2018
Purpose: Partnering has been at the top of the management agenda in the construction industry for many years as a means of improving performance. Previous research shows that partnering has not reached the desired level of strategic partnering, but stopped at project partnering. The purpose of this paper is to provide an analytical framing for transformation from project partnering towards strategic partnering with suppliers. Design/methodology/approach: The framework is based on two building blocks: a case study of a contractor involved in implementing strategic partnering with four of its suppliers and a literature review dealing with partnering in construction; and models for close and long-term buyer-supplier collaboration in other contexts. Findings: Transformation towards strategic partnering should preferably be based on extension of project partnering in two dimensions: extension in time through relationship development with suppliers and extension in space through increasing network orientation across projects. Practical implications: Succeeding with relationship development and network orientation requires contractors to abandon two significant aspects of established construction logic that serve as significant implementation barriers. Competitive bidding in single projects needs to be replaced by collaboration over series of projects. The decentralisation of authority to the project level needs to be supplemented with increasing centralised decision making. Originality/value: Previous research showed that despite the considerable interest in partnering there is a lack of systematic theorizing of the phenomenon. This paper contributes to theoretical anchoring through the combining of the case study and the literature review in the abductive approach applied.