Three Theoretical Perspectives for Understanding Inter-firm Coordination of Construction Project Supply Chains

Carlos Torres Formoso
Eduardo Luis Isatto


The success of construction projects is highly dependent on the coordination of a fairly large number of stakeholders, such as client organizations, designers, general contractors, and subcontractors. Each of those stakeholders can both affect and be affected by the way a project is managed, and none of them usually has the power or the ability to coordinate project supply chains. However, the existing literature on supply chain management does not provide a comprehensive theoretical foundation for describing or explaining the coordination of construction project supply chains. This paper discusses the role of three different theoretical perspectives for understanding the inter-firm coordination process of project supply chains in the construction industry: the Theory of Coordination, the Transaction Cost Theory and the Language-Action Perspective. The contribution of each theoretical approach is pointed out in the paper, and their complementary role is illustrated in a case study carried out in a petrochemical construction project in Brazil.


Supply chain management, inter-firm coordination, project management, complexity.

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