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Searching for contracting patterns over time: Do prime contractor and subcontractor relations follow similar patterns for professional services provision?



This paper compares over a 12-year period (1) patterns of contracting between a state transportation agency and its prime contractors providing engineering design services with (2) patterns between these prime contractors and their subcontractors. We find evidence of different contracting patterns at each level that emerge over time and coexist in the same contracting context. While patterns at the agency–prime level are characterized by repeated contracts, patterns at the prime–sub level indicate fewer repeats and more contractor turnover. Implications for outsourcing practice and theory are discussed. © 2011 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.