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Challender J, Farrell P and Sherratt F (2013) Collaborative procurement: an exploration of practice and trust in times of austerity . In: Smith, S D and Ahiaga-Dagbui, D D (Eds.), Proceedings 29th Annual ARCOM Conference, 2-4 September 2013, Reading, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 827–836.
- Type: Conference Proceedings
- Keywords: austerity, collaboration, integration, partnering, trust
- ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9552390-7-6
- URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2013-0827-0836_Challender_Farrell_Sherratt.pdf
Despite authoritative calls for an increase in collaborative working and partnering practices, recent austerity is causing many companies to move back towards traditional competitive procurement routes. Clients may feel the only way to assure themselves that they are not paying too much is to market test their projects in a highly competitive environment. Organisations may feel vulnerable opening themselves up to partnering and collaborative practices during a time of uncertainty, and are reluctant to take unnecessary risks. This study seeks to explore the effects of the recent economic downturn on collaborative working, with particular emphasis on manifestation in practice and the positioning of trust within such relationships. Eight interviews were carried out with senior industry professionals, all experienced in partnering and collaborative working practices. Austerity was found to have influenced collaborative practices in industry at both individual and organisational levels. Individuals have responded with a quest for job security which has in turn developed risk-averse work practices and affected the establishment of short term collaborative relationships. Organisations have returned to traditional competitive procurement methods, seeking to reduce risk in their practices and maintain control in uncertain times. Sceptical considerations of collaboration have re-emerged; the abuse of collaborative relationships for financial benefits, employing austerity as leverage, have become contemporary legend if not fact. Perceptions of collaborative working have shifted within the austerity context, and there is the potential for industry to lose ground gained before the recession in the development of collaborative practices. Further research is recommended to examine the repercussions of this shift in both practice and philosophy, as austerity-born projects come to completion.