Engineering Asset Procurement: A Complex Adaptive System Perspective

Furneaux, Craig W. (2008) Engineering Asset Procurement: A Complex Adaptive System Perspective. In Brown, Kerry A., Mandell, Myrna, Furneaux, Craig W., & Beach, Sandra (Eds.) Contemporary Issues in Public Management: The Twelfth Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM XII), 26 – 28 March, Brisbane, Australia.


The Australian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) (2001) noted that Australian government assets, such as buildings, roads, rail and utilities, are valued at around $371billion and approximately $18 billion is spent annually by state, territory and commonwealth governments on acquiring and maintaining these assets. Ferguson (2007) estimates that over $200 billion will be spent on engineering assets such as transport (roads and rail), ports, utilities (water and electricity) and broadband in the next few years in Australia. Such engineering assets are highly complex arrangements which comprise social and technical systems, are capital intensive, and typically last for significant lengths of time (Herder and Verwater-Lukszo 2006). Indeed it is considered that the optimal functioning of engineering assets such as "transportation, energy, information and communication, and water is vital for the economy and society" (Herder and Verwater-Lukszo 2006, 119). Engineering assets are thus significant in both economic and social terms (APCC 2001). Recognising the importance of engineering assets to society, many jurisdictions in Australia have developed policies on the strategic management of engineering assets (e.g. Queensland Treasury 2003, Western Australia Department of Treasury and Finance 2005) particularly in order to guide the procurement of assets, asset management and maintenance, which is now typically achieved through private firms. The APCC (2001) has argued that the effective and efficient management of these assets is in the best interest of government, business and society (APCC 2001). As an emerging field of endeavour, engineering asset management seeks to optimise the performance of these engineering assets – particularly the whole-of-life management of risks and expenditures for the purpose of achieving organisational goals (British Standards 2003). Given the relative newness of the field, much research is still needed in order to identify the optimal ways of procuring engineering asset management and maintenance from the private sector by government (Lædre, Austeng, Haugen and Kaklegg 2006). Procuring engineering asset management and maintenance is a critical arena in which to conduct research due to the size of expenditure involved in acquiring and maintaining these assets (APCC 2001), the typical longevity of the assets, and the significant risk posed to society if these assets were to fail (Herder and Verwater-Lukso 2006). This paper argues that a richer understanding of the procurement of engineering asset management and maintenance services can be achieved by using perspectives from complex adaptive systems theory. The following sections outline the administrative challenges faced by governments as they seek to arrange for the management and maintenance of these assets, as these arrangements are of central interest to this research project. Firstly, the complex public policy issues which have arisen due to new systems of government in western democracies will be outlined, together with drawing out the implications of these arrangements for engineering asset management. Theoretical perspectives which have been deployed to explore this complexity will then be surveyed, and the utility of complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory to investigate the procurement of engineering asset management will be advanced.

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ID Code: 15318
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this conference can be freely accessed online via the conference's web page (see hypertext link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Public Sector, Asset Management, Procurement, Governance
ISBN: 1741072158
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Policy (160510)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Business and Management not elsewhere classified (150399)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Administration (160509)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Research Centres > CRC Integrated Engineering Asset Management (CIEAM)
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2011 05:46

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