Great will but few resources to handle social procurement in the construction sector

​Daniella Troje has studied how employment requirements, which is a type of social procurement criterion that aims to create job opportunities for long-term unemployed and marginalized people, affect organizations and individual actors in the construction sector. Her doctoral thesis shows that there is a great will to work with interns, but often both resources and proper knowledge are lacking.

​What challenges do you focus on in your research?

“To work with employment requirements and social procurement can spur new ways of thinking and organising; create new roles, actors and responsibilities; create new practices, knowledge and coordination needs; and create new business opportunities. I have investigated how this complex procurement criterion affect actors’ everyday work and what problems might occur along the way.”

How do you address the problem?

“My goal has always been to provide a deeper empirical, conceptual and theoretical examination of this issue. I hope that by doing so I can provide more insight into an under-researched phenomenon, as well as reveal concrete areas where practices need to change to be able to work with employment requirements more effectively and thereby enable maximum social value output.”
 
“For my theoretical perspective I have used institutional theory. Institutional work is about the daily, mundane work that is carried out to either preserve old patterns of behavior and old ways of working, or to break them, or create new ones. I hope that my thesis provides some contextualization and empirical examples of how institutional work unfolds in practice and opening a debate of what institutional work really means in practice.”

What are the main findings of your research?

“My findings show how actors’ roles, identities and work practices change when they work with employment requirements and the interns that are hired through the requirements. Many have to go beyond their formal role description to work with the interns, and identities change from being someone who builds to also being someone who takes care of others. Generally, the will to work with employment requirements and the interns is large, but many feel as they lack resources and knowledge exchange with others. To overcome these issues, they create new local practices to be able to handle the employment requirements and the interns.”
 
“I also identified four different areas of drivers and barriers for working with employment requirements. For example, one driver for actors working on a strategic level is that employment requirements can function as a recruitment tool, while for actors on a more operative level it is instead a barrier as many of the interns lack education and experience for the job tasks they are expected to do. I have also found that actors who work with employment requirements conduct different types of institutional work, and that the interns also conduct institutional work because of their ‘strangeness’ in the institutional environment, despite being unaware of doing so.”

What do you hope your research will lead to?

“I hope that my research leads to an increased interest to study social procurement, and to study phenomena which breaks with the institutional environment in general. I also hope that actors who work with or want to work with social procurement see how they must change their work practices so that employment requirements become established and not a fad soon forgotten. By doing so they can hopefully achieve both increased commercial and social value at the same time.”
 
Text compilation: Daniel Karlsson
 
 
The thesis defence will be online on Zoom, 9 October at 13.15, see link on the thesis’ page
 
More about Daniella Troje


Published: Thu 01 Oct 2020.