Implementing relational contracting in a public client organization: the influence of policy clashes, resources and project autonomy
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2023

Relational contracting models are increasingly being used for large and complex public infrastructure construction projects, but both practices and outcomes still widely vary. When analyzing the causes of failures and successes, most studies have focused on practices at the project level. In this paper, we add to the current understanding of relational contracting in public construction by examining the influence of factors at the organizational and institutional levels. We develop a framework based on theories of policy implementation and analyze two projects piloting a new Early Contractor Involvement model in a large public infrastructure client organization. In this case, a previous marketization policy, prescribing low client involvement in project processes, interfered with the relational contracting policy. This policy clash was not openly acknowledged from the start, despite causing significant confusion and frustration at the project level, but became recognizable largely through its consequences for resource allocation and managerial attention. We conclude that policy ambiguities, combined with a project-based implementation context, produce local interpretations and variations in relational contracting models. When project autonomy is high, industry-level agreements, standards and resources are important to align practices also between projects within the same client organization.

policy implementation


project-based organizations

Public clients

relational contracting

early contractor involvement


Lilly Rosander

Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH)

Anna Kadefors

Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH)

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Service Management and Logistics

Construction Management and Economics

0144-6193 (ISSN) 1466-433X (eISSN)

Vol. In Press


Tvärvetenskapliga studier


Studier av offentlig förvaltning



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