University of Oulu

Kirsi Aaltonen, Virpi Turkulainen, (2018) "Creating relational capital through socialization in project alliances", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 38 Issue: 6, pp.1387-1421,

Creating relational capital through socialization in project alliances

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Author: Aaltonen, Kirsi1; Turkulainen, Virpi2
Organizations: 1Faculty of Technology, Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2College of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-06-26


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the understanding of socialization in the context of temporary operations and organizational settings, using project alliance — the most contemporary approach to the management of large and complex projects — as an example. In particular, the paper also assesses how informal and formal socialization mechanisms are used to facilitate relational capital in such a setting.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected by two case studies of complex infrastructure projects in a Northern European city. The analysis focuses on how socialization is managed across organizational interfaces within the alliance organization during the project tendering and development phase to create relational capital.

Findings: The findings indicate that significant emphasis is put on socialization in project alliances. However, while in the tendering phase both informal and formal socialization mechanisms are used to create relational capital; in the development phase informal socialization mechanisms are associated with higher levels of relational capital and formal socialization mechanisms are used to maintain the level of relational capital.

Originality/value: While operations and supply chain management research argues that socialization is critical to manage organizational interfaces and to create relational capital in buyer-supplier relationships, research has mainly focused on ongoing operations. This study complements the prior research by developing further insight into socialization in the context of temporary operations and organizational settings; such settings create a unique empirical context, posing different managerial challenges as the results also indicate.

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Series: International journal of operations & production management
ISSN: 0144-3577
ISSN-E: 1758-6593
ISSN-L: 0144-3577
Volume: 38
Issue: 6
Pages: 1387 - 1421
DOI: 10.1108/IJOPM-02-2017-0091
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 222 Other engineering and technologies
Copyright information: © Kirsi Aaltonen and Virpi Turkulainen 2018. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at