Analysing outsourced and insourced public infrastructure projects’ performance in a provincial department of public works: a grounded theory approach

Bankole Osita Awuzie, Zwelinzima P. Mcwari, Progress Shingai Chigangacha*, Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa, Theo C. Haupt, Lovelin Obi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose:                                                                                                            An increase in outsourcing of consultancy services has been observed during procurement and delivery of public-sector infrastructure projects. However, the incidence of project failure has continued unabated despite this shift by public-sector entities. Also, there appears to be limited literature focussed on seeking to provide the rationale governing the decision to outsource or insource consultancy services by public-sector organisations. The purpose of this study was to appraise the performance of public-sector projects in which consultancy services have been outsourced or insourced. These are the gaps which this study was undertaken to fill. 

Design/methodology/approach:                                                                          A grounded theory methodology (GTM) research design was adopted based on the nature of evidence sought and gathered from a Provincial Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (PDPWI) in South Africa. Data was obtained from a mixture of semi-structured interviews and project-specific documents spanning a five-year period and was analysed according to the procedures associated with GTM. Accordingly, open coding, axial coding and pattern matching were carried out at several intervals to develop categories and themes. 

Findings:                                                                                                          The findings of the study showed the absence of a structured approach within the PDPWI for facilitating decisions pertaining to outsourcing or insourcing consultancy services within construction projects. Furthermore, the study established that both approaches yielded similar results across all performance facets of cost, time and quality. In addition, a detailed insight into the steps required for the successful application of GTM in built environment research has been provided in the study. 

Originality/value:                                                                                        Limited studies have been undertaken to compare the impact of either outsourced or insourced services on the organisational and project performance. This was the gap to which the study reported in this paper was undertaken to contribute.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


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