Trust and aligning views between organisations – the key to fruitful collaboration2021-06-09
Public procurement is where profit-driven private companies meet organisations with social values. This intersection is fertile ground for challenges.
Sofia Molander’s doctoral thesis, Enacting, Enabling, and Embracing Market Orientation: A study of Public–Private Dyads, examines how public transport can establish a service that satisfies customer needs through fruitful collaboration with the service provider.
- Previous research has focused on the private sector and individual organisations. Public transport is an area with many stakeholders and I studied the level where public meets private – the partnership between the service provider and the buyer”, explains Sofia Molander.
Sofia’s research is applicable to most contexts where collaboration is required, but her focus has been the intersection where different organisations meet – in this case, one private and the other public. Being able to maintain trust in one another is an aspect highlighted in Sofia Molander’s research.
- When one organisation is private and the other public, there is an assumption that the parties do not share the same values. That is an obstacle to the establishment of trust and aligning views, and to collaborative execution of the work. Just think about how you would approach collaboration with someone who does not share your values. How do you go about it? My research centres on trust and the ability to forfeit control in order to optimise collaboration.
Sofia Molander has included most public stakeholders in Swedish public transport and every buyer of public transport. The research has taken the form of surveys and interviews.
- The surveys made it clear that previous research has not focused on the relationship between organisations. When obstacles in the form of trust and values were revealed, I had to delve deeper and conduct interviews with both buyers and providers.
The interviews revealed that public organisations perceive profit-driven organisations to value profit above all other factors. Initiating a working relationship while holding that sort of assumption in a working relationship affects collaboration on all organisations levels.
- If there is no trust, you take a more controlling role in a relationship. You develop a contractual focus and an unwillingness to forfeit control. You also avoid interaction with your partner beyond what is necessary. That in turn leads to more coordination than collaboration. Elements are conducted separately and everything is governed by contracts.
What sort of impact can your research have?
- I have found that no two relationships between organisations are alike. Based on the strict regulatory framework that governs public procurement, I think there is a tendency to believe that the system is incredibly rigid and leaves no room to foster good relationships. I have found that the regulations do not hinder good relationship – for better or worse, stakeholders actually have relatively free rein. My research shows that more weight needs to be given to the interpretation and implementation of regulations rather than to the drafting of laws and regulations. I also hope that my research can create an understanding of how organisational partnerships like this work and how we can make them better.