University of Oulu

Juri Matinheikki, Kirsi Aaltonen, Derek Walker, Politics, public servants, and profits: Institutional complexity and temporary hybridization in a public infrastructure alliance project, International Journal of Project Management, Volume 37, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 298-317, ISSN 0263-7863,

Politics, public servants, and profits : institutional complexity and temporary hybridization in a public infrastructure alliance project

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Author: Matinheikki, Juri1,2; Aaltonen, Kirsi3; Walker, Derek2
Organizations: 1Aalto University, School of Science, Maarintie 8, P.O.Box 15500, FI-00076 Aalto, Finland
2RMIT University, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, Australia
3University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Industrial Engineering and Management, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2019
Publish Date: 2021-08-18


Public infrastructure projects must comply with the divergent and even conflicting demands of multiple institutional logics causing institutional complexity. Despite the increasing interest in different forms of complexities in projects, we lack empirical illustrations and rigorous theorizing of mechanisms for responding to institutional complexity. This paper demonstrates how public buyers of a tunnel construction project formed a hybrid organization of a multi-party project alliance to respond to institutional complexity. We delineate a process of temporary hybridization through which the competing logics of a bureaucratic state, corporate market, and multiple professions were combined within the temporary project alliance organization. Such temporary hybridization not only focused on selective coupling with external demands but also mitigated internal tensions. Our findings emphasize a blended organizational structure, jointly formed governance and incentive systems, and the facilitation of social interaction to build a temporary yet sustainable hybrid organization capable of combining conflicting institutional logics.

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Series: International journal of project management
ISSN: 0263-7863
ISSN-E: 1873-4634
ISSN-L: 0263-7863
Volume: 37
Issue: 2
Pages: 298 - 317
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2018.07.004
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 222 Other engineering and technologies
Funding: This research was made possible by the first author's mobility grant by Finnish Foundation for Economic Education (grant number: 150325). We would like to express our deepest gratitude for the financial support. In addition, we would like to thank Business Finland for their financial support in the earlier stages of this study. We declare no conflict of interest.
Copyright information: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd, APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.