Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Outcome 1a will be measured through coding of a 2-page contracting case assignment completed by contract managers before the training starts and revised and re-submitted after the training. The assignment asks contract managers to respond to questions about a contracting case they are working on in their job. Outcome 1a measures the extent to which contract managers use two specific FRC practices when preparing and managing their contracts: 1) shared goals and guiding principles for the buyer and seller, and 2) four FRC governance mechanisms: 1) penalties and rewards, 2) communication and information sharing, 3) dispute resolution, 4) procedures for contract amendments. The case assignment is provided as course material prior to the start of training and revised and resubmitted after the training.
The case assignment will be coded by the researchers, with assistance from research assistants, for the presence of the two FRC practices: 1) shared goals and guiding principles for the buyer and seller, and 2) the four FRC governance mechanisms as described above, with the coders being blind to whether the cases are from participants in the control group or the treatment group and whether each case was completed before or after the training. Cases will be blinded and randomized in order when coded. The researchers may experiment with Natural Language Processing/AI procedures for coding. In that case, the researchers will train a language model and provide a test of its validity compared to manual coding done by the researchers – a procedure and test that will be reported in published papers.
Outcome 1b will be measured via a participant survey distributed before and after the training. The survey instrument is provided as supplementary material in the original language of the contract managers to document the precise question formulation. The survey questions are attached in a supplementary file. The survey will be translated to English in appendices to published papers.
Outcome 2 will be measured through coding of oﬃcially tendered contracts written by participants in the treatment and control group before and after the course. We have built robot process automatization programs (RPAs) to download all contract data and documents (such as requests for proposals, product descriptions, and contracts) for all contracts tendered by local and regional governments in Denmark from 1 January 2021 onwards. We run the RPA processes every week and manually inspect and quality assure the downloads for accuracy and completeness by the researchers and a team of research assistants (also done weekly). We code the contract documents for two types of formal-relational contracting elements:
2a) Shared goals and guiding principles
2b) Four FRC governance mechanisms: 1) penalties and rewards, 2) communication and information sharing, 3) dispute resolution, 4) procedures for contract amendments. The researchers, with assistance from research assistants, will code the RPA downloads for the presence of these governance mechanisms with the coders being blind to whether the RPAs are from participants in the control group or the treatment group, and with RPA downloaded contracts appearing in randomized order. The researchers may experiment with Natural Language Processing/AI procedures for coding to increase speed and accuracy. In that case, the researchers will train a language model and provide a test of its validity compared to manual coding done by the researchers – a test that will be reported in published papers.
2c) Public contract managers use FRC enforcement mechanisms to manage the buyer-seller relation during the contract period – the four FRC governance mechanisms mentioned in 2b) – measured in a survey of public contract managers with survey items for each of the four FRC governance mechanisms.
Conceptual definition of outcomes: The coding of shared goals and guiding principles will be based on the definitions offered in conceptual work on FRC by Frydlinger, Hart, and Vitasek (2019) and Frydlinger et al. (2021). The coding of the four FRC governance mechanisms will build on the same works and measure whether the core principles of FRC are reflected in how public contract manage these governance mechanisms.
Frydlinger, D., Hart, O., & Vitasek, K. (2019). A new approach to contracts: how to build better long-term strategic partnerships. Harvard Business Review, 97(5), 116-126.
Frydlinger, D., Vitasek, K., Bergman, J., & Cummins, T. (2021). Contracting in the new economy: using relational contracts to boost trust and collaboration in strategic business relationships. Palgrave Macmillan.
Outcome 3a-3c will be measured by surveys of buyers and sellers a year after the training is completed. The survey instrument measures buyers' and sellers' satisfaction with the contract relationship, buyers’ perception of value from the purchase, buyers’ and sellers’ perceptions of whether the other party was behaving in a “cooperative” spirit in line with FRC objectives, and buyers’ and sellers’ perception of how much buyer’s transaction costs (time, effort and other resources spent to make the transaction happen) in phases of the contracting process: market search, contract writing, negotiation/contract award, contract signature, monitoring, enforcement.