Reintegrating ex-offenders into work through construction: a case study of cross-sector collaboration in social procurement

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Building Research and Information: the international journal of research, development and demonstration, 2020, 48, (7), pp. 731-746
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Too many ex-offenders are condemned to a life of unemployment, under-employment and benefit-dependency with significant ongoing costs to themselves, the economy and to wider society. To address this growing and intransigent problem, recent public policy innovations have led to the re-emergence of collaborative instruments such as social procurement which require companies tendering for construction and infrastructure contracts to train and employ ex-offenders on their projects. To comply, construction firms need to form new collaborate arrangements with organizations from the social and government sectors, yet little is known about how these new cross-sector collaborations work, what barriers to collaboration exist and how to overcome them. Mobilising theories of cross-sector collaboration, this exploratory case study research draws on findings from interviews, observations and documentary analysis of eleven collaborative pilot projects in the UK designed to explore new employment pathways for ex-offenders into construction. The findings reveal numerous barriers to cross-sector collaboration including little experience of cross-sector working; challenges working across different organizational logics; transaction costs associated with new organizational practices; and misaligned incentives. It is concluded that new forms of social project management, intrapreneurship and relational competencies need to be developed to enable these new collaborative arrangements to work.
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