Managing infrastructure transitions : a complex adaptive systems perspective

Furneaux, Craig W., Brown, Kerry A., & Gudmundsson, Amanda (2009) Managing infrastructure transitions : a complex adaptive systems perspective. In 13th International Research Society for Public Management Conference (IRSPM XIII), 6–8 April 2009, Copenhagen Business School, Fredericksberg. (Unpublished)

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Engineering assets such as roads, rail, bridges and other forms of public works are vital to the effective functioning of societies {Herder, 2006 #128}. Proficient provision of this physical infrastructure is therefore one of the key activities of government {Lædre, 2006 #123}. In order to ensure engineering assets are procured and maintained on behalf of citizens, government needs to devise the appropriate policy and institutional architecture for this purpose. The changing institutional arrangements around the procurement of engineering assets are the focus of this paper.

The paper describes and analyses the transition to new, more collaborative forms of procurement arrangements which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia and other OECD countries. Such fundamental shifts from competitive to more collaborative approaches to project governance can be viewed as a major transition in procurement system arrangements. In many ways such changes mirror the shift from New Public Management, with its emphasis on the use of market mechanisms to achieve efficiencies {Hood, 1991 #166}, towards more collaborative approaches to service delivery, such as those under network governance arrangements {Keast, 2007 #925}. However, just as traditional forms of procurement in a market context resulted in unexpected outcomes for industry, such as a fragmented industry afflicted by chronic litigation {Dubois, 2002 #9}, the change to more collaborative forms of procurement is unlikely to be a panacea to the problems of procurement, and may well also have unintended consequences.

This paper argues that perspectives from complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory can contribute to the theory and practice of managing system transitions. In particular the concept of emergence provides a key theoretical construct to understand the aggregate effect that individual project governance arrangements can have upon the structure of specific industries, which in turn impact individual projects. Emergence is understood here as the macro structure that emerges out of the interaction of agents in the system {Holland, 1998 #100; Tang, 2006 #51}.

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ID Code: 27041
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Infrastructure Management, Public Sector, Public Works, Public Policy
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) > Organisation and Management Theory (150310)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 the authors.
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2009 23:45
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:42

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