The embedding of the construction client role in dutch municipalities and its effects on professionalism and organisational learning

Marleen Hermans, Hanneke Veldhuis, Denise Huizing, Simone Rots

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Municipalities account for a considerable share in the total production of construction work in the Netherlands. Through their commissioning role, public entities can act as a ‘launching customer’ for innovation. New procurement schemes have been and are being installed to improve quality and productivity, reduce risks and enhance sustainability within the industry. The effective application of these schemes requires a professional commissioning organisation, able to consistently adopt and further develop these new schemes. A clear organisational structure and aligned working processes are prerequisite to establish efficiency, effectivity, knowledge management and organisational learning. A qualitative research project investigated the governance structure and embedding of the commissioning role in Dutch municipalities. 18 municipalities were investigated through structured interviews and additional document analysis. The research elucidates the shattering of the commissioning role over the municipal organisation, with limited alignment of processes between entities involved and hybrid organisation structure and governance issued by municipalities show substantial variation and hybridity within the municipal
organisations. The allocation of administrative responsibility for complex is not
clear-cut, varying with the distribution of political responsibility for related policy
areas between various aldermen. Although differences exist between larger and
smaller municipalities, overall findings are similar. The fragmentation level found,
can be expected to hamper possibilities for organisational learning and improving
professionalism. To improve these possibilities, preconditions for knowledge
management and organisational learning should be strengthened, starting with
stimulating the awareness of the relevance of commissioning role.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 35th Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsChris Gorse, Chris Neilson
Place of PublicationLeeds, UK
PublisherARCOM, Association of Researchers in Construction Management
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventARCOM Conference - Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20194 Sep 2019


ConferenceARCOM Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • governance
  • organisational learning
  • procurement
  • public administration


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