Defining the partnering project
– the starting point of project partnering
Thesis for the degree Philosophiae Doctor
Trondheim, [month and year]
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
⦁ Preface and acknowledgements
It is a privileged position to pursue a phd. You are allowed to do anything, anywhere and anytime as long as it state-of-the-art. And that is of interest.
This thesis is filed with the ambition to pass with a small margin:
Faculty-specific recommendations and guidelines “Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology: A collection of articles should contain at least three scientific articles in recognized international peer-reviewed journals. At least one article where the candidate is the main or first author must be accepted for publication. The candidate must be the main or first author of at least two articles.”
This thesis is based on three scientific articles, all accepted by and published in International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. The candidate is the main author of two articles and second author in one article. Hence, based on the faculty-specific recommendation and guideline, the number of articles should be sufficient and focus is on the methodology and common elements in the articles.
Thanks to all
⦁ Administration staff
Program for Continuing Education and Professional Development in Project Management (in Norwegian: Etter- og videreutdanningsprogrammet i prosjektledelse)
A good hug to the administration at Department [of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering] for flexibility and the possibility to complete my phd-work on 80% leave since April 2017 in combination with full time entrepreneur work.
I hope the dissertation defence has a common goal for all participants: To expand the body of knowledge just a little bit.
The purpose of this thesis is to support a framework on how to define a partnering project as a starting point of a project partnering plan.
The thesis builds on literature review and three publications
A basic framework is tested to define a partnering project:
1) Who are the participants to be included, and;
2) What are the participants’ objectives, independently and commonly, and;
3) How: the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques applied to pursue the goals by each of the participants.
The literature study provides support for the methodology and consequently a model to define collaborative projects.
One conclusion: Challenge Derek Walkers theory on stronger relation-ship based projects due to early involvement and increasing gain/pain-share. Projects are more collaborative with more joint decision-making to pursue joint objectives.
Need for further research on
1) Who are the participants to be included; types of projects due to participants. Owner – contractor, contractor – supplier – stakeholder, sponsor – stakeholder, …… Industries – private/public,
2) What are the participants’ objectives, independently and commonly; types of projects due to type of goal: financial, time, quality, less conflict, less paper, product development, …..
3) How: the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques applied to pursue the goals by each of the participants. Types of projects due to what project management tools are implemented: cozy start-up meeting, formalities, informalities, governance,
The thesis aims to facilitate basic implementation and evaluation of all types of collaborative projects.
The framework may also be tested and developed for a framework on how to define success factors for a partnering project.
Literature review revealed that performance measurement of partnering projects are have been mixing actions and goal achievement (Eriksson, 2010). This approach also addresses that reaching a common goal requires differing actions by each of the partners.
⦁ Sammendrag (Summary in Norwegian)
⦁ Table of contents
⦁ List of figures
⦁ List of tables
⦁ List of publications
⦁ List of a few acronyms and abbreviations
Part I – Theoretical background and key findings
Partnering projects, problems, unclear definitions and understanding.
What Abell (1980) did for business strategic planning – can it be adapted to project partnering?
⦁ Introduction to Defining the business by Abell
– is it possible to create similar impact in Project Partnering as in Strategic business planning?
The Three Dimensional Business Definition model (or Abell model) helps a company define its business. Prior to Abell’s model, it was common to define a business either through its resource capabilities or its programs of activity, such as with a product/market grid. According to his book, Defining the Business, Abell suggests the previous two-dimensional definitions were insufficient, and instead created a three-dimensional analysis. The three dimensions in Abell’s model are:
Served Customer Groups (who are the customers)
Served Customer Functions (what are the customers’ needs)
Technologies Utilized (how are needs being satisfied)
Defining the business: The starting point of strategic planning. Prentice Hall, 1980
⦁ Research objectives
Even widely used dictionaries does currently not have any definition of Project Partnering. Neither the Oxford English Dictionary, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, A Dictionary of Construction, Surveying and Civil Engineering, Building and Construction Terms Dictionary – Beaufort Online, Construction Dictionary and Glossary of Construction Terms nor Dictionary of Architecture & Construction provide a definition of PP or partnering in a project context.
A better starting point
Just to explore, make foundation for further and following research
‘The concepts of collaboration, partnering and alliances have been around for a long time. If these are to be adopted as a repeatable business model, they cannot be solely dependent on so-called soft issues like behavioural training, teambuilding or individual skills. The concept must be embedded in the governance and processes of the organization and reinforced in every aspect of the business through policy, process and systems (Hawkins and Little, 2011)(Hawkins, D., Little, B., 2011. Embedding collaboration through standards — part 2: the key aspects of BS 11000. Industrial and Commercial Training 43(4), 239–246.). Our motivation was based on the belief that a partnering project definition as a starting point is a basic and important contribution providing a better understanding and hence implementation of the concept.
⦁ Research scope
Define Project Partnering.
Project Partnering is a relationship strategy whereby a project owner integrates contractors and other major contributors into the project. Through commitment to mutual project objectives, collaborative problem solving and a joint governance structure, partners pursue collaborative relationships, trust and improved performance. (Børve et al., 2017)
The definition indicates that PP neither varies with early contractor involvement nor gain and pain share, but varies with the degree of mutual project objectives, collaborative problem solving and joint governance structure.
Compare with alliancing, Joint ventures and other collaborative project procurement forms / relationship-based project procurement.
Consequently use the term collaborative project procurement forms instead of relationship-based project procurement forms.
[More on network marketing: level 1) Contact, level 2) mutual activities. Level 3) shared resources. Source: Malena Ingemansson Havenvid, NTNU and www.IMPgroup.org. Briefly refer to business relationships and networks; (Möller and Halinen, 1999)]
Partnering has an comparable in Relationship Marketing which is a customer-centred approach to the search by firms for long-term business relations with prospective and existing customers (Evans and Laskin, 1994). Relationship Marketing also has no commonly accepted definition (Evan and Laskins, 1994).
Limitations and exclusions
⦁ Research process and publications
Timeline and motivation for each publication,
Publication 1: Learn how to write a publication. And write something that is 100% correct.
Publication 2: Clear up ambiguities and confusion on what project partnering is.
Publication 3: Prove the usefulness of the basic framework used to define PP
⦁ Structure of the thesis
⦁ Literature review / State of knowledge of concepts and gaps
⦁ How partnering projects are defined in literature
Systematic review of all relevant articles. Sort into
One dimensional: How only. Participants and objectives are missing or poorly defined.
Two dimensional: One objective, two parties
Who and how. Objectives missing.
With respect to the who dimension, the definition of stakeholders in the PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Institute, 2013) is:
An individual, group or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity or outcome of the project.
Operationalised and in this paper, internal stakeholders include those within the project, i.e., the project team, the sponsor, functional managers, and internal organizational groups. External stakeholders include business partners, sellers or suppliers, customers or users, government regulators and possibly other entities.
What goals …. The unique with [reference to PMI definition?] is in a broader meaning. Nyström goals.
The two dimensions of what and how are covered in the definition of the business strategy of the project as* a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service” as PMI’s definition of a project (Project Management Institute, 2013). A partnering project may also require to define the who dimension on who the partners are.
Walker and Lloyd-Walker present a benchmark of Project Partnering with ratings adds up to 60. In a presentation given at Chalmers and NTNU in March 2015, Walker also presents Project Alliancing in the RBP framework with ratings adding up to 70, an increase of 10. What distinguishes Partnering from Alliancing in the platform elements, are higher ratings on joint governance structure, integrated risk mitigation and insurance and co-location. In the behaviour elements, trust-control balance, common best-for-project mindset and a no blame culture. In the process elements, there are higher ratings on concensus decision making, incentive arrangements, transparency and open-book, and mutual dependence and accountability. This fit well with the findings of McKenna (2006)
Categorisation by (Eriksson, 2010) Definitions
Simple and generic Definitions based on UK National Economic Development Office (NEDO) (1991); Bennett and Jayes (1995), Barlow et al. (1997), Bresnen and Marshall (2000), Cheng and Li (2004), Construction Excellence (2004) Chan et al. (2003) Green (1999)
Means focused – an attempt to establish non-adversarial working relationships among project participants through mutual commitment and open communication – mixing procedures and tools (e.g. joint objectives and conflict resolution techniques) and their outcomes (trust, commitment, openness, etc.). (Cheung et al., 2003)(Cheung et al., 2003b (Naoum, 2003; Cheng and Li, 2004; Chen and Chen, 2007).
Component focused : to develop a universal definition taking into account the content of many definitions. In mixing procedures and outcomes. Nyström (2005)(Yeung et al., 2007).
Component focused type without any outcomes (Lu and Yan, 2007 Eriksson (2008b) (Eriksson, 2010)
Partnering models describing how to implement project partnering
(Abudayyeh, 1994; Crowley and Karim, 1995; Crane et al. 1997; Cheng and Li, 2001; Beach et al. 2005; Wong et al., 2008; Ross, 2009).
Such models were introduced to reduce organizational challenges and improve the organizational cooperation between organisations in projects
(e.g. Cowan et al., 1992; Crowley and Karim, 1995; Larson, 1997; Halman and Braks, 1999; Bayliss et al., 2004; Naoum, 2003; Chan et al., 2004; Alderman and Ivory, 2007, Ross, 2009).
Six project partnering models has been found in literature:
⦁ Cowan et al (1992) – introduced the first partnering model
⦁ Abudayyeh (1994)
⦁ Crowley and Karim (1995)
⦁ Cheng and Li (2001)
⦁ Wong et al (2008)
⦁ Ross (2009)
To 1: Cowan et al (1992) presented the very first project partnering model containing two main stages:
⦁ Selection of partners
⦁ Project management bonding
⦁ Stakeholder teambuilding
⦁ Joint evaluation
⦁ Continuous improvement
⦁ Persistent leadership
– which would lead to successful Completion
To 2: Abudayyeh (1994) presented a project partnering model containing three elements:
⦁ clarifying the interest of participating actors in the partnering effort
⦁ arrangement of a partnering workshop and
⦁ the execution of the partnering project
To 3: Crowley and Karim (1995) presented a model for project partnering that focused primarily on
⦁ the role of the owner, designer, and contractor,
⦁ the dynamic interplay between these actors during the project life cycle and
⦁ development of inter-organizational relationships between these actors.
To 4: Cheng and Li (2001) proposed a three phased conceptual model for implementing project partnering :
⦁ partnering formation
⦁ partnering application, and
⦁ partnering completion and reactivation
To 5: Wong et al. (2008) proposed a model for building trust in Partnering Projects containing 7 main areas:
⦁ Communication system – channels for interaction
⦁ Organizational policy – reflects the expected behavior of the staff
⦁ Knowledge – on trust
⦁ Communication/ interaction – make sure information/ communication is comprehended of the partnering participants
⦁ Being thoughtful
⦁ Emotional investments – enthusiasm on spending time, energy and effort on a person and an organization – necessary in partnering projects
⦁ How to implement this in contracts/ agreements – define the relationships and the expectations
To 6: Ross (2009) presented a project partnering model which focused particular on the partnering session (workshop):
⦁ planning the partnering session (workshop) with the actors that participate in the partnering project
⦁ the selection of a competent facilitator for the workshop:
⦁ the facilitator stimulates the exchange of ideas between stakeholders in the partnering project, but does not get involved in the content of the exchange
⦁ experienced, because many old conflicts can reappear
⦁ has knowledge of the industry, as to understand the essence of the conversations taking place.
⦁ the partnering session – welcome activities, informational activities, innovative activities and commitment activities.
⦁ Maturation over time
Who: The US Army Corps of Engineers defined owner and contractor as the participants of partnering in 1988. “Designer” was added by Crowley and Karim in 1995 and specified to “More than one client, contractor, consultant or supplier” by Construction Excellence (CE), in 2004 and 2009. The latter somewhat combines with “two or more organisations” (CII, 1991) which also was used in eight definitions including NEDO, 1991, UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) 1998, Barlow et al., 1997, European Construction Institute (ECI), 1997 and 2003, and Scott, 2001). A variation was introduced with “a number of firms” by Bennet and Jayes (1998). Bennet and Baird (2001) introduced a qualification to the participants with “several firms that can make a significant contribution towards improving the performance” but also “representatives of neighbours and special interest groups affected by the proposed work” which may come from “stakeholders” introduced by Cowan et. al (1992) continued by Lu and Yan (2007). Finally, “multiple firms and individuals” was suggested by Aarseth et. al (2012).
What: the literature review found 34 varieties of goals and objectives. The varieties were sorted in three groups; 1) improvement, 2) dispute, conflict and cooperation, and 3) objectives. [Comment: maybe use the cost-budget-quality triangle instead?]
On 1) improvement: “Improved efficiency” is an objective in the definition by CII (1991) and was continued after literature review by Aarseth et. al (2012). “Improved cost effectiveness” is included in definitions from (Construction Industry Institute (CII), 1991, NEDO, 1991, UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) 1998, European Construction Institute (ECI), 1997, Scott, 2001). An other angle was introduced by DETR (1998) and followed up by Bennett and Baird (2001) and Scott (2001) with “maximizing the effectiveness of each participant’s resources”.
On 2) dispute, conflict and cooperation:
Resolving inter organizational conflict (Crowley and Karim, 1995)
More collaborative relationships (Barlow et al., 1997)
Minimise the risk of costly disputes (NAO, 2001)
Collaborative team (CE, 2009)
Improved stakeholder involvement (CE, 2009)
Trust (as a goal) (CE, 2009)
Cooperation-based coopetition (Eriksson, 2010)
Avoiding conflict (Aarseth et al., 2012)
On 3) objectives: USAGE is also the original source with “mutually beneficent goals”. CII (1991), NEDO (1991), and ECI (1997) follows up with “specific business objectives”. CII (1991) further highlights the “increased opportunity for innovation” which is sustained with Aarseth et. al (2012). There is also a line of selling points with “client satisfaction” NAO (2001), “success for everyone involved” Bennett and Baird (2001), “minimise the need for costly design changes” NAO (2001) , “focus upon project objectives” (Naoum, 2003) and “sustainable development” (Yeung et. al, 2007). CE (2009) includes “better allocation of risk” and “zero defects” in their definition.
How: In total 87 varieties of measures were extracted from the 35 definitions.
Agreement, commitment or understanding
Disputes and problems
Measures for improvement
Sharing and open book
Objectives and goals
Leadership and culture
When: “Long-term” was used to describe the time-frame by CII (1991), Latham (1994) and ECI (2003). Bennett and Baird (2001) and NAO (2001) followed up with “multiple consecutive projects” but added also “one single project” which Aarseth et. al (2012) include as the only time-frame description after their literature review. Construction Excellence (2004) followed up with “a project, series of projects, or service objectives”. ECI (2003) and Gareis and Cleland sums it up with “a specified period”.
Where: Definitions of Project Partbering directly or implicitly refer to construction projects (USAGE, CII, Latham, Cowan, ECI, Barlow, Bennet & Jayes, Bennet & Baird, NAEC, Nyström). High-risk contracts are referred to by (Construction Industry Institute (CII), 1991, NEDO, 1991, UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) 1998, European Construction Institute (ECI), 1997, Scott, 2001). In more recent years Eriksson (2010) “Complex and customized projects with high uncertainty and long duration coupled with severe time pressure”. International institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (2010), a legal practice broadens the market with “any business relationship in a joint project or program”.
⦁ The ISO standard, ISO 11000, on collaborative business relationship management
Mixes how and what
⦁ Conclusions of the literature review and suggested areas for future research
Visualization of further research based on the basic framework
After accepting the framework as the basic dimensions to define a partnering project, this opens for a wide range of further research.
⦁ Further research on the participants to be included
⦁ Further research on the participants’ objectives, independently and commonly
⦁ Further research on the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques applied to pursue the goals by each of the participants
⦁ Research methodology
In this section, the research methodology and approach for the research performed is described.
⦁ Research rationale
Many projects Partnering projects
EU experience with procurement by tender and opening for alternatives
Consequences of poor project partnering definition
⦁ Research objective
RQ from Paper 1: What is the current state of partnering practices in offshore development drilling projects assessed using the RBP taxonomy framework?
RQ from Paper 2: What are the specific and definite characteristics of Project Partnering?
RQ from paper 3: How to succeed with project partnering in a project-based organization?
Research question for this thesis:
RQ1: How does the basic framework to define a partnering project facilitate project partnering?
Methodology for the literature study and survey rounds are summarised in table 2.1 below.
Partnering in offshore drilling projects Defining Project Partnering How to succeed with project partnering Thesis
Study type Exploratory
Research philosophy: Epistemology Post-Positivism because we believe what we observe and then we interpret it.
Research philosophy: Ontology objective
Axiology n/a because there is no judgement about values in this research
Research approach Inductive (data are collected and a definition developed as a result of data analysis)
Choices Mono method
Time horizons Cross-sectional (snapshot)
Methodological approach Quantitative with open questions for any qualitative comment
Data collection Web-based questionnaire with literature references
Measure instruments Counting number of respondents who have marked:
1) each phrase specific and definite for PP and 2) dimensions required in a definition of PP.
Sample size 58
Analysis technique Frequency count
Table 2.1; Summary of methodology with reference to (Sounders, 2009)
⦁ Research philosophy
⦁ Research approaches
⦁ Literature search and review
Key terms Associated terms
⦁ Case study – Offshore drilling
⦁ Survey – defining PP
⦁ Case study – Caseco
⦁ Research strategies
⦁ Research choices, time horizon and techniques
⦁ Methodology in Partnering in offshore drilling projects
The research strategy of this study is a single, qualitative, descriptive (Yin, 1989) and intrinsic case study with inductive research design based on Yin (1994). The research philosophy is pragmatism in both ontology and epistemology (Saunders et al., 2009), and the case study research strategy was selected to provide an analysis of the processes of partnering in an offshore drilling project and hence contribute to building the RBP taxonomy theory (Cassell and Symon, 2004). The case was selected as an outstanding NCS drilling project with good access to information suitable for demonstrating theory and for answering RQ1 formulated in the introduction.
As the research matured, RQ1 matured to become more explicit, in accordance with Eisenhardt (1989). The paper is based on literature research on partnering in construction and offshore drilling projects. Qualitative data were retrieved from plans, reports and interviews, including reports and verifications by independent regulatory authorities. Using flexible and opportunistic data collection methods, there has been an overlap between collection and analysis of data.
The interviews contained an introduction explaining the aim for producing a paper on the case without reference to the RBP framework. The opening question was: “What was your evaluation of the project?”, which was followed up by questions seeking to have informants elaborate on the case project compared to ordinary NCS drilling projects, also without directly referring to any RBP element. Additionally, informants were asked for comments on how future drilling projects could learn from this case project. In the dialogues, the informants were informed of the research purpose and were asked to elaborate on their experience with the case, with follow-up questions.
After information gathering, relevant notes and report quotes for each element of the RBP framework were extracted, followed by identification of RBP elements missing in the data. The analysis was interpretative, non-statistical and qualitative with the aim of illustrating the case by applying the informants’ reflections to the RBP taxonomy.
This case study approach builds strongly on the NCS context and organizational structure; hence the findings have limited wider significance (Cassell and Symon, 2004).
The first author of this paper participated as chief financial officer (CFO) from 2002 to 2005 in Pertra, project owner of the case study presented. The position as CFO provided first-hand access to inside information and working relationships with stakeholders. With more than ten years having elapsed since project execution, a distance to the project and stakeholders has evolved, allowing for critical assessment of the case. The first author acknowledges the probability of bias; however, the insights provided by membership in the management team from formation to sale of the company are vital for the rich case study provided. Trust that had been developed due to previous team membership might have elicited information which would not have been given to an unfamiliar researcher in a one-off interview (Cassell and Symon, 2004).
In addition to the first author, the informants contributed during data collection from the case project are shown in item 1-15 in Table I.
Table 1: Sources of information
Information was gathered from all directly involved stakeholders, in addition to independent third parties such as the drilling efficiency consultancy and the NPD. Informants have provided evaluations and verifications – seven through semi-structured interviews, three in e-mail correspondence and four in an opportunistic dialogue. Notes including the date, place and duration of the focussed dialogues and semi-structured interviews were taken. However, interviews were not recorded to ensure that sensitive and business-critical issues relating to the focal project could be openly discussed.
The reliability was initially questionable because the RBP taxonomy ratings were set by the first author only. This was however mitigated as draft case context and results were sent to key informants for commenting and validation.
The case project itself is described in the next section, which commences with outlining the context of the project.
⦁ Materials and research methods in Defining Project Partnering
This research searched for a uniform way of defining a partnering project and to formulate a new definition of PP. We first carried out a literature review and broke down existing PP definitions into characteristics of the who, what, when, where, why and how (5W1H) framework. The framework facilitated a group of PP experts, as a competent group, to identify specific characteristics for PP. The basic 5W1H framework is applied in business research to determine the objectives of project business cases, continuous improvement (kaizen) and quality management (Nedyalkov, 2010). The ‘why’ for the five dimensions is covered separately in the discussion section of this paper. The who, what, how, when and where of the basic framework has been applied to the analysis of the literature review, results and discussion.
Literature review process
The literature review process consisted of several stages. In the first stage, we selected the search keywords ‘project partnering’ and closely associated concepts such as ‘strategic partnering’ and ‘alliance partnering’. We searched using these keywords by publisher on J Stor, Taylor & Frances Online, American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE Journals, Wiley-Blackwell, Elsevier, Emerald ProQuest and Google Scholar. A total of 267 books, reports and research papers on partnering projects were identified in the search. Literature found on the legal and contractual aspects of PP were not included in the analysis, leaving 45 sources cited in this paper. 60% of the literature referred to the construction industry. Definitions and definition-like descriptions of PP were then extracted from the literature sources identified directly and indirectly during the search.
Journal, search engine, books Number found Cited in this paper
International Journal of Project Management 26 3
International Journal of Managing Projects in Business 24 2
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management 14 0
Construction Management and Economics 8 3
Project Management Journal 8 1
Journal of Management in Engineering 7 2
Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management 4 1
Other papers found on Academy of Management Proceedings, Wiley, Elsevier/Emerald, ProQuest and Google Scholar 100 6
Books and book sections 57 13
Reports, standards and government documents 19 14
Total 267 45
Table 3.1 Literature sources
Survey and verification survey
We asked a group of experts to mark each of the 130 phrases found in the PP definitions extracted from the literature review (see first column of Table 4.2) as being either ‘specific and definitive’ or ‘generic or incorrect’ characteristics of PP. Respondents were also given the option to mark phrases as ‘irrelevant’ and ‘uncertain’. An extract of the questionnaire is shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Extract of questionnaire
The references for each phrase were listed in Vancouver format on the last page of the questionnaire. The questionnaire also contained open-ended questions that enabled the respondents to provide new alternative phrases, other comments, qualitative assessments, thoughts and feedback.
A total of 367 experts in the three respondent categories were identified by the literature search. We planned to analyse differences between categories, but the low number of respondents does not allow for sophisticated analysis. 76% of the respondents were authors of a paper on PP and institutions providing a definition of PP. The remaining 24% were authors of papers on subjects close to PP. We located 338 e-mail addresses for the experts in our search for their contact information.
No of papers/books E-mail not found Sent via e-mail or web page E-mails rejected Sent and received 1st round replies Verification round
Authors (including institutions) of literature providing a definition of PP 53 18 35 6 29 7 5
Authors of papers on PP 226 11 215 29 186 37 24
Authors of papers on collaboration projects and similar 88 0 88 1 87 14 12
367 29 338 36 302 58 41
Table 3.2 Literature and respondents
The first round of the survey achieved a 24% response rate from the 29 authors of literature that provides a definition of PP. The response rate for the 186 authors of papers on PP was 20%, and 16% for the 87 authors of papers on collaboration projects. The verification round achieved a response rate of 12% for authors of papers on PP definitions, 59% for authors of papers on PP and 29% for authors of papers on collaboration projects.
Groups of respondents Invitations sent and not rejected due to incorrect e-mail address Replies in first survey round – identification of specific and definite characteristics of PP Replies in verification round – assessment of proposed new definition of PP
Authors (including institutions) of literature providing a definition of PP 29 7 (24%) 5 (12%)
Authors of papers on PP 186 37 (20%) 24 (59%)
Authors of papers on collaboration projects and similar 87 14 (16%) 12 (29%)
Total 302 58 (19%) 41 (13%)
Table 3.3 Number of respondents, invitations and replies
Indicating respondent quality, 67% of first-round respondents had more than five years of PP experience. The remaining respondents were evenly distributed across the 5-10, 10-20 and 20+ years of experience groups. 79% of respondents had a PhD or higher qualification. Responses were received from Europe, Asia, America, Australia and the Middle East. Respondents classified on average 120 of the 130 characteristics. 41% of the characteristics were classified as specific and definite, 45% as generic and inexact, 7% as irrelevant and 6% as uncertain.
Verification-round respondents could approve, support, be indifferent to, request minor rewording or demand major rephrasing of each element of the definition formulated from the results of the first survey round.
All information was treated confidentially. Data is presented in aggregated form only, and we received the data anonymously. No e-mail/IP addresses, browser information or cookies were linked to responses. Respondents were also instructed to not include any information in their open-ended question responses that could contribute to directly or indirectly identifying them. Permission to collect and store data was obtained from the National Data Protection Authority. This research was conducted in accordance with the national standard code of research ethics and the specific ethical guidelines for science and technology (The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology, 2008a).
To define is to explain, to amplify the meaning of and to set limits for a word or concept. Define originates from the Latin word ‘definire’ (to delimit or define) and is the root of words such as definition and definitive (Caprona, 2013).
Barnbrook (2002) stated that a definition is used to help people grasp meanings by providing a series of hints and associations that will relate the unknown to something known. ‘Definitions are set out to explain the meanings of certain words in terms of certain other words, preferably in useful natural language.’ (Barnbrook, 2002: 1).
Van de Ven (2007) defined the meanings of terms through using two levels of abstraction: constitutive and semantic definitions. A constitutive definition describes a term by referring to its component parts and therefore defines at a low level of abstraction. A semantic definition describes the meaning of a term through its similarities (positive) and dissimilarities (negative) with other terms, and therefore defines at a higher level of abstraction. Van de Ven (2007) concluded that both positive and negative semantic phrases are required to clarify the meaning of a concept in a semantic definition. Osigweh (1989) clarified this by stating that ‘Terms that are defined by negation are determinate; those defined without negation are indeterminate.’
Our ambition is that this research can lead to the formulation of a constructive definition that defines the specific and definite characteristics of PP at a low level of abstraction. Evaluation of the new constructive definition may provide grounds for adjustment or amendment of the definition components. A negative semantic suffix added to the definition to delineate PP from relationship-based procurement forms that are close to PP may be required to communicate the boundaries of PP. Formulation of a negative semantic suffix, however, falls outside the ambition of this paper.
The first part of the definition formulated on the basis of the survey results describes ‘the general characteristic’ that defines what PP essentially is. The second part characterises the specific and required participators, objectives, means, time frame and type of project. A requirement for the inclusion of the dimensions incorporated into the second part of the definition was that they were marked as 1) ‘required to be included in the definition’ and 2) ‘specific and definite characteristics of PP’ by a majority of respondents. We filled in general language to make sentences complete.
In accordance with Barnbrook (2002), definition evaluation naturally falls into three stages:
⦁ continuous testing, error correction and enhancement during the development of the language description model and its associated software
⦁ formal testing to demonstrate the adequate operation of the final version of the software
⦁ assessment of the implications of the results of stages a) and b) (Barnbrook, 2002).
The research results reported in this paper have been obtained by combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies (Phillips and Pugh, 2010). The PP definition has been derived from survey results by applying theories and methods (Phillips and Pugh, 2010) that extend across PM, PP, research methods and the linguistics of definitions. An inductive approach has been used and the results should provide evidence from which we can draw conclusions.
The results should describe what researchers associate with PP. The semantics of individual words in definitions have evolved over the last four decades. This research, however, searches for a conceptual definition of PP which will provide researchers and practitioners with a current understanding of the term (Sevilla, 1992).
The research philosophy and epistemology are classic positivist (Saunders et al., 2009). What we observe is believed and then interpreted. The focus is on the set of characteristics of PP, showing their properties and the relations between them (Saunders et al., 2009). The web-based survey used a mono-data collection method to provide a snapshot view. Elements of the Delphi method were used as information on the results of the first survey round were shown in the verification survey. With consequences for validity and reliability, the relatively low number of respondents permitted frequency count to be used as the analysis technique.
Validity and reliability issues
The literature study assessed definitions of PP in papers that were available in electronic format. Two papers were, however, only available in paper format. All literature was provided by the university library. The definition phrases found were manually classified into the dimensions and later verified electronically, still opening for handling errors.
We received 58 usable responses in the first survey round after two reminders had been sent. Responses were on average given for 120 of 130 characteristics. The standard deviation was 28, implying that most respondents replied to all characteristics. The low number of respondents meant that simple data analysis was applied to determine specific and definite characteristics of PP. The characteristics with the highest frequency were then formulated into a definition, which was then verified in a verification round. The low number of respondents prevented sophisticated analysis of variances of groups of respondents, level of experience and region. With respect to reliability, the low number of respondents and the use of frequency count analysis generate uncertainty relating to at which degree the research is repeatable with the same conclusion. Each of the respondents did, however, represent multiple research cases. The respondents who stated their opinion on 130 characteristics of PP have specialised to different degrees in the subject. Thus, we believe that the questionnaire obtained the opinion of qualified respondents. Only researchers, however, were invited to take part in the survey. The findings should therefore be tested, corrected and verified by practitioners.
We believe that the conclusions from the evidence, which are based on observations and form the foundation for the definitions, are correct. The truth of these conclusions is, however, not guaranteed. Sources of error may have crept in during analysis, choice of categories, sorting into categories and overlapping characteristics.
The authors of this paper are not respondents to the surveys.
⦁ Research methodology in Understanding how to succeed with partnering
We have chosen a case study approach to address our overall research question stated as:
RQ1. How to succeed with project partnering in a project-based organization?
The case was researched using a qualitative method, and the qualitative data were collected from semi-structured interviews (Mason, 2018). We set out to identify factors perceived central to succeed with project partnering in a case company (CaseCo). This aim was achieved by interviewing 54 experienced persons having various roles in various construction projects by asking the two broad questions:
(1) What specific partnering challenges does one face in CaseCo?
(2) What factors do you consider important to succeed with project partnering?
CaseCo, a leading expert in infrastructure construction with six years of experience with partnering projects and with more than 30 percent of the contracts in its particular US$3.6 bn market, requested to be unnamed and anonymous, to which we adhered.
The research strategy of this study is a single, qualitative, descriptive (Yin, 2014) and intrinsic case study with an inductive research design based on Yin (1994). The research results have been obtained by qualitative methodology (Phillips and Pugh, 2010). The factors identified have been derived through applying theories and methods across project management, project partnering research methodology (Phillips and Pugh, 2010).
According to Yin (2014), using a case study is an appropriate approach while searching to understanding a phenomenon, and particularly appropriate when the research question starts with “How?.” A literature review, consisting of several stages, was done both before and after the interviews were conducted to gain insight into the phenomenon studied. We searched in five high-ranking journals (Table II). In the first stage, we searched for “project partnering” and closely associated concepts such as “strategic partnering” and “alliance partnering” (papers found in initial search), then we combined these with a combination of “succeed,” “success” and “factors” (how to succeed in partnering – relevant for this paper).
During the second stage, we speed-read abstracts and results of 318 papers, out of which 48 papers were found to be relevant for the construction industry and topic. Finally, we found 19 papers relevant for the research in this paper. The majority of the public research is focused on the challenges more than on how to do something about them. That only 19 papers have been published on this theme confirms that there is insufficient existing research on this topic. Derived from the literature review, we found six additional papers published in the journal Construction Management and Economics that were relevant for this research.
In our case, the phenomenon investigated was project partnering. The interviews were conducted in a research project in one organization and we only had access to interview objects from this organization. In total, 54 semi-structured interviews were conducted as a sole source of information in order to get comprehensive information in the complete organization and value chain. Formal consent to data collection and storing was obtained from the Norwegian Centre for Research Data. The research was conducted in accordance with the national standard code of research ethics and the specific ethical guidelines for science and technology (The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology, 2008).
Experienced persons, Table III, representing the entire company value chain, were interviewed about project partnering in the company.
Among the interviewees, 35 percent were women, and all interviewees were employed in two of the five CaseCo regions. In all, 25 of interviewees worked in department C (one of two departments in charge of project implementation in CaseCo).
The interview objects were asked to participate in a 45-minute to one-hour interview after having reflected on the two questions: What specific partnering challenges does one face in CaseCo? and What factors do you consider important to succeed with project partnering?
All information was to be treated confidentially and data were ensured to be presented in aggregated form only. All interviews were conducted over a period of four months. In all interviews, the participant was asked to say something about the organization in which s/he was employed, what s/he was working on and how long s/he had been employed by the organization. Each interview object was encouraged to speak freely on the questions. If something was unclear, the interviewer asked control questions to confirm his or her
Table 2: Literature search results
Journal Papers found in initial search Relevant for construction industry and topic How to succeed with partnering –
relevant for this paper
Project Management Journal 76 3 3
Int. Journal of Project Management 179 29 8
Int. Journal of Managing Projects in Business 15 2 1
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management 18 10 3
Journal of Management in Engineering 30 4 4
Total 318 48 19
Table 3: List of interview objects
Interview object Years of experience Region Department Current role M/F
interview objects <10 y: 27
10-20 y: 11
20+ y: 16 X: 35
Y: 19 A: 3
F: 11 construction manager: 20
project manager: 13
department manager: 7
economist: 1 M: 35
understanding of each interview object’s meaning. In connection with each interview, a summary was written which the interviewees were then asked to read to ensure consistency with what had been said.
We used pattern matching for data analysis (Yin, 1994). We also transferred data to MS Excel to enable additional counting and comparison. The first 11 interviews were analyzed to determine if the interviewees repeated a pattern of specific factors. After this initial round, we identified various success factors that could be assigned to a Who, What or Way dimension by the 11 first interviewees. We also found that four success factors constituted sub-dimensions of the Way dimension. When all the data had been analyzed, we still had three main dimensions emphasized by the vast majority. We went through the data again to ensure that we had not missed any important aspects. Finally, we realized that the findings could be systematized in a three-dimensional model along the main dimensions of Who, What and Way. The main dimensions and sub-dimensions were communicated to all interviewees by e-mail, with links to the interview report. With a few exceptions, everyone approved the e-mail content. A few interviewees offered minor comments that we address in the discussion section.
We tested the dimensions on relevant audiences to get feedback and to make sure our findings were consistent with how the employees in CaseCo perceive them. First for the management in region X and Y. Then three times in region X, once in department F and twice in connection with major company gatherings of employees in CaseCo.
To analyze the factors found, we used a basic framework with a basic who, what, when, where, why and how breakdown (5W1H). We simply ask who and why, what and why, when and why and so on. In earlier business research, this approach has been applied to labeling the objective of project business cases, continuous improvement (kaizen) and quality management (Nedyalkov, 2010). In our research, the “why” is related to the purpose of achieving successful partnering projects. Hence, we apply who, what, how, when and where as our basic framework for factor analysis in the literature review and in the results and discussion sections. To limit our study, we only investigate the management and collaboration aspects of partnering.
Figure xx. Common basic framework applied in all three publications. Covering research questions to various degree. Thesis ties it all together and identifies further work and research.
Research rationale Research questions Publication Research approach and methods
Provide case of project partnering in offshore drilling projects 1 Literature review
Define project partnering 2 Literature review
Understand how to succeed with project partnering 3 Literature review
Defining a partnering project Thesis Literature review
⦁ Research timeline
Publications timeline Received 1st review 2nd review Accepted
Partnering in offshore drilling projects 15. December 2015 11. March 2016 6. June 2016 7. July 2016
Defining Project Partnering 7. October 2016 16. March 2017 26. June 2017 26. June 2017
Understanding how to succeed with project partnering 27. July 2017 27. April 2018 29. May 2018
Constant literature review
⦁ Reliability and validity issues
Formal consent to data collection and storing was obtained from the Norwegian Centre for Research Data. The research was conducted in accordance with the national standard code of research ethics and the specific ethical guidelines for science and technology (The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology, 2008b).
⦁ Deviations from original phd-plan
⦁ Main results and discussion
The three dimensions are a starting point and a basic framework to define a partnering project.
⦁ Extent of collaboration
A new typology for collaborative projects? Collaborative projects does neither vary with early involvement nor pain-/gainshare incentives, but vary with the participants involved, the extent of joint objectives and the extent of joint governance.
In the brief introduction to relationship-based project procurement forms in chapter 2, we refereed to Walker and Lloyd-Walker (2015, p131) describing the degree of collaboration varying with painshare / gainshare incentives and early contractor involvement. Neither painshare / gainshare incentives nor early contractor involvement is found specific for PP in this research. If the degree of collaboration varies with means found specific for PP, like mutual project objectives, collaborative problem solving or a joint governance structure, deserves further research.
Any general prerequisites (Nyström, 2005) were not found when defining Project Partnering.
New categories of Project Partnering
The methodology used in the publications and this thesis open door for further categories of Project Partnering to evolve. Distinguished forms of Project Partnering may evolve either in the how, who and what dimensions.
How: Different forms of Project Partnering may be categorised by types of joint governance structures. Partners may have only influence or real voting power. Is it a form of Project Partnering with project board? Is it a type of Project Partnering with only advisory project board?
Who: All subcontractors, owner-designer, owner-contractor Project Partnering?
What: Other partnering projects may again have more focus on objectives like innovation or reduced conflict.
Where dimensions could cover type of industry, private or governmental.
Dimension Light Extensive
When / what (Construction Industry Institute (CII), 1991) Project specific partnering
⦁ (maximizing the effectiveness of each participant’s contribution) Strategic alliances
⦁ (maximizing the effectiveness of each participant’s resources)
How Non-ambiguous objectives:
– be nice
Easy joint problem solving
Light joint governance structure:
– Advisory board Ambiguous objectives:
– Conquer cancer
Extensive joint problem solving
Extensive joint governance structure:
– Project board
What Light joint objectives:
Light degree of collaborative relationships,
Low level trust
mildly improved performance Extensive joint objectives:
Extensive degree of collaborative relationships
Vast improved performance
Who Selected internal and/or external stakeholders:
Owner – designer All stakeholders.
Integration of authorities and community, is a distinctive form of PP
Partnering projects to be renamed “Joint objectives and governance projects”
According to the definition, trust is required in Project Partnering. A starting point with definition of common project objectives and attached governance procedures may reduce the need for trust to only unforeseen events.
RQ1, RQ2 and RQ3
Part II – Publications
Publication 1: Partnering in offshore drilling projects
Publication 2: Defining Project Partnering
Publication 3: Understanding how to succeed with project partnering
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