Reasons for contract changes in implementing Dutch transportation infrastructure projects: An empirical exploration

TP FrontAn important contributor to cost overruns of infrastructure projects is contract changes after the construction contract has been concluded. Using mainly descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests, real project data were analyzed from forty-five Dutch transportation infrastructure projects with a total construction contract value of over € 8.5 billion. First it was explored if we could find evidence for the presumption that contractors bid low on contracts to recover the loss of bid profit by claiming contract change costs in the project implementation. We conclude that we could not find evidence for the opportunistic behavior of contractors. Second, the different sizes and reasons for the contract changes were explored. We conclude that: scope changes are the most significant reason for contract changes, followed by technical necessities; smaller projects tend to have higher relative contract change costs; and contract changes due to omissions in the contract are more present in smaller projects than in larger projects. The results of the analysis suggest among other things that policymakers and planners should pay more attention to flexible contracting, and to the contract management of smaller projects.

Publication | Verweij, S., Van Meerkerk, I.F. & Korthagen, I.A. (2015). Reasons for contract changes in implementing Dutch transportation infrastructure projects: An empirical exploration. Transport Policy, 37 (1), 195-202.

Achieving satisfaction when implementing PPP transportation infrastructure projects: A qualitative comparative analysis of the A15 highway DBFM project

IJOPM FrontThis article investigates how managers in public-private partnership (PPP) projects respond to social or physical events during the implementation of their projects, and which of their responses produce satisfactory outcomes. Multi-value Qualitative Comparative Analysis (mvQCA) was used to examine the events that took place during a large Dutch Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) transportation infrastructure project. The analysis found that most events were social in nature. Private managers’ responses to these events were internally-oriented and resulted in dissatisfactory outcomes. In contrast, externally-oriented managerial responses were associated with satisfactory outcomes. The article concludes that both public and private managers need to invest sufficiently in stakeholder management resources and capabilities when implementing projects. Although the intention of DBFM contracts is to lower the burden on the government, public managers still play an important role as intermediaries between the contractor and the local stakeholders and this role should not be underestimated.

Publication | Verweij, S. (2015). Achieving satisfaction when implementing PPP transportation infrastructure projects: A qualitative comparative analysis of the A15 highway DBFM project. International Journal of Project Management, 33 (1), 189-200.

Managing unplanned events in large infrastructure projects: Results from an in-depth comparative case evaluation

Compact IIThis contribution intends to move beyond the truism that infrastructure project management is contextual and evaluates which configurations of management actions and contexts produce what outcomes. Therefore, we introduce multi-value Qualitative Comparative Analysis (mvQCA) as a complexity-informed method, and apply it to the Dutch A2 Maastricht infrastructure project. An analysis of eighteen cases within the project showed that context is explanatory for the different and sometimes contradictory results produced by management strategies. In particular, we found that (1) internal-oriented private management seems strongly associated with low satisfaction, (2) external-oriented management is strongly associated with high satisfaction in cases of social, local unplanned events, and (3) sometimes internal-oriented management is associated with high satisfaction, depending in particular on the nature of the cooperation between principal and contractor.

Publication | Verweij, S. & Gerrits, L.M. (2014). Managing unplanned events in large infrastructure projects: Results from an in-depth comparative case evaluation. In: J.W. Meek & K.S. Marshall (eds), Compact II: Administrative Strategies for Complex Governance Systems (pp. 81-108). Litchfield Park: Emergent Publications.

Institutional interventions in complex urban systems: Coping with boundary issues in urban planning projects

Emergence Front 2Compact IIUrban planning projects are planned and organized through arrangements between actors. These arrangements are institutional interventions: they intervene in the institutional landscape as existing organizational boundaries are (temporarily) redrawn. Such boundary decisions are intended to simplify complexity. However, these boundary decisions also produce new complexities as new boundary issues arise. Our contribution investigates these boundary issues by studying and comparing three urban planning projects in the Rotterdam urban system (the Netherlands). The analysis shows that the boundary issues are often underestimated and that coping strategies are required to deal with them. Because boundary issues pose serious threats to the success or even survival of projects, management should invest in increasing the capacity to deal with (often unexpected) boundary issues. This paper is available both as an article publication and as a book chapter.

Publications | Verweij, S., Van Meerkerk, I.F., Koppenjan, J.F.M. & Geerlings, H. (2014). Institutional interventions in complex urban systems: Coping with boundary issues in urban planning projects. Emergence: Complexity & Organization16 (1), 07-23. | Verweij, S., Van Meerkerk, I.F., Koppenjan, J.F.M. & Geerlings, H. (2014). Institutional interventions in complex urban systems: Coping with boundary issues in urban planning projects. In: J.W. Meek & K.S. Marshall (eds), Compact II: Administrative Strategies for Complex Governance Systems (pp. 29-50). Litchfield Park: Emergent Publications.

Visiting researcher at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Gütersloh

Bertelsmann FoundationFrom July 2014 to October 2014 I am working in Gütersloh (Germany) as a Visiting Researcher at the Bertelsmann Foundation, living in nearby Bielefeld. The Bertelsmann Foundation was founded in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. It is a private operating think tank with a budget of over € 65 million a year (2013), dedicated to contributing to contemporary issues such as sustainable governance. The Foundation is currently involved in over 60 projects, including the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. The SGI is a cross-national comparative survey designed to identify and foster successes in effective policy-making. In the project I am working with the SGI project team (photo) on comparative analyses aimed at evaluating the configurations of governance conditions that influence policy performance. To this purpose we apply Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) – a research approach and method I have been working on for several years (see publications in e.g. Public AdministrationEvaluation, and Journal of Critical Realism) – to 41 EU and OECD countries. The results of the comparative studies will be presented at conferences, and submitted to scientific journals. My visit at Bertelsmann Foundation is made possible by the Foundation and courtesy a grant from the Vereniging Trustfonds Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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