Date of Conferral







Dave A. Gould


Managers in state transportation agencies in the United States must frequently choose between using the talents and abilities of in-house staff or outsourcing for road and bridge design projects. Budgetary crises have strongly affected funding for transportation infrastructure. Facing budgetary pressures to suppress costs, managers must frequently make the choice of outsourcing a project or performing it in-house. Yet, decision-making models for these decisions are inadequate. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of public agency managers when making decisions to outsource the core government functions such as road and bridge design projects. The research question was: What are the lived experiences of managers at the public agency when making decisions about whether to outsource core government functions such as road and bridge design projects? Participants were interviewed about their lived experiences at a state Department of Transportation with 'make or buy' decisions. Purposeful sampling was used to select 19 participants for the interviews and the collected data were coded and used a van Kaam approach for analysis. Five themes emerged as findings: acceptance of outsourcing, benefits versus problems, outsourcing propelled by staff limits, loss of control when a project is outsourced, and political pressure for and against outsourcing. These findings may be relevant for management personnel at U.S. public agencies. The implications for positive social change include improved cost, increased efficiency of use of time and talent of management personnel in state transportation agencies, and cost benefits for both management and public.