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Procuring complex performance: the transition process in public infrastructure

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Purpose ‐ The paper analyses how public buyers transition from procuring single products and services to procuring complex performance (PCP). The aim is to examine the change in the interactions between buyer and supplier, the emergence of value co-creation and the capability development during the transition process. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A multiple, longitudinal case study method is used to examine the transition towards PCP. The study deploys rich qualitative data sets by combining semi-structured interviews, focus group meetings and organisational reports and documents. Findings ‐ The transition towards PCP can be best described as a learning process which cumulates the knowledge and experience in the client-supplier interaction accompanied by changing contractual and relational capabilities. In public infrastructure this process is not initially motivated by the benefits of value co-creation, but is politically driven. Practical implications ‐ The study proposes three generic transition stages towards increased performance and infrastructural complexity moderated by contract duration. These stages may help managers of public agencies to identify the current procurement level and the contractual and relational challenges they need to master when facing higher levels of performance and infrastructural complexity. Originality/value ‐ The study adds to the limited empirical and conceptual understanding on the nature of long-term public-private interactions in PCP. It contributes through a rare focus adopting a longitudinal perspective on these interactions in the transition towards PCP.
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Keywords: Buyer-supplier relationships; Capability development; Procuring complex performance; Public infrastructure; Value co-creation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 28, 2014

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