Development levels of stakeholder relationships in collaborative projects: Challenges and preconditions
Keywords:Collaborative projects, stakeholder relationships, cooperation, control, coordination, collaboration
The complexity, uncertainty, and increasing stakeholder expectations are forcing organisations to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to achieve competitive advantage and successful project delivery. This is particularly relevant in mega projects that are characterized by the large number and variety of stakeholders working together in a relationship-based approach. The complexity of megaprojects is driven by different factors such as environmental uncertainty, socioeconomic revolutions, and organisational interdependency, which makes interorganisational cooperation, control, coordination, and collaboration vital for successful project delivery. These concepts have been explained by researchers from different perspectives and used interchangeably without a clear distinction about the meaning and how they develop remains largely unknown, especially for collaborative construction projects. Our aim is to addresses this research gap by developing a conceptual framework that describe the links among these concepts in terms of development levels of stakeholder relationships. In addition, identify challenges and preconditions in relation to developing relationships at different levels. We have adopted the directed approach of qualitative content analysis method to validate and extend the conceptual framework of this study. The context of this study is a large hospital construction project located in northern Finland. The findings of our study suggest that collaboration in a relationship-based construction procurement is a dynamic process of active engagement of multiple stakeholders. These stakeholders must have high degree of shared understanding in terms of cooperation, control, and coordination for joint activities to achieve the mutual desired outcomes. Our study also identifies the challenges that project stakeholders could face in developing collaborative relationships. In addition, the preconditions required to develop collaborative relationships are described. Our study provides a better understanding to the project managers for managing inter-organisational collaborative construction projects successfully. Existing practical research on the development of relationships and their different levels in collaborative construction projects is limited. The outcome of this research would be beneficial to project management to deliver dispute-free construction projects.