This study uses an organizational design perspective to illuminate the front-end of capital projects to develop complex socio-technical systems. The research is grounded on planning activity for four large infrastructure projects in the UK. By modelling the front-end with Design Structure Matrices, the analysis uncovers polycentric structures formed to govern large arenas of collective action. In these structures, the promoter formulates the grand problem but shares the authority to make interdependent strategic choices with independent actors. The findings trace regular slippages in the performance targets to the need to safeguard compromise solutions for emerging disputes rooted in differing interests and visioning. However, context determines the extent the accountability for the front-end outcomes is shared. The main contribution is a contingency model of performance that contains a relationship between the umpiring structure used to resolve internal disputes and the slack resources used to preserve project legitimacy in the public eye. Implications to practice and policy are drawn.
|Publication status||Published - 2015|