Beyond Policies and Social Washing: How Social Procurement Unfolds in Practice
- for the daily project management practices and the practitioners,
- for the internship, and
- for the companies and projects, in the context of the Swedish construction and real estate sector.
1.1. Social Procurement
1.2. A Practice Perspective on Social Procurement
3.1. Effects for Construction Project Management Practice and Practitioners in Individual Projects
Having targets [with employment requirements] is important, but other things are also important; however, the utmost goal is [to create] real jobs … You have to be able to set up the right conditions for things to work. It comes down to the people, the intern and the supervisor, but also the employer … It’s about creating opportunities for relationships and situations where people can grow. (PHG1)
When I found out that the intern only got paid €3 per hour, I just said to [the employer] that either we hire him or we let him go, because I cannot ask someone to work for €3 per hour, that is below my dignity. I cannot ask him to work hard when he has that compensation, no way! So we hired him instead [of having him on an internship]. (PS4)
I think that for those who come here, they should be able to count on us and feel that when they’ve gone through with this [internship], they have a chance to get a job. That has to be the most important thing. (PHG2)
With some [ER] interns, I don’t know what happened later. I think it’s a shame that we don’t get information on what happened with those who we’ve worked with for six months. But one lives here in this neighbourhood, so I see him sometimes. It’s great when he tells me how things are going. When you work with someone three days a week, you talk about life, problems, and you get engaged in their lives, perhaps more than you should. (PHG5)
They come with their bills and ask for help how to pay them. We were told [at the supervisor course] not to do that, but it’s difficult not to help when they don’t understand how to do it. To help write CVs and fill in applications, which I had no idea how to do. But I just had to learn. … You’re not supposed to do that, but it depends on the person, how much you engage. It becomes emotional. (PHG5)
One of the supervisors has a young ER intern [now], and she helps him a lot, writing CVs, applying for jobs. Although she chooses to help, it takes her a lot of time; he needs so much support from her, in a way he needs a mentor. … But she feels a bit frustrated because she doesn’t really have that time. (PHG6)
We don’t live in a perfect world, but I think it’s cool that [the employer] flexes their muscles and gives people internships and that they have the ambition to make these internships meaningful and lead to a permanent job. (PHG1)
He [an intern originally from a country in Africa] had so many clothes on but was still cold... And it’s not like he was saying ‘I won’t go out’, because he does what he’s supposed to do. The other day, it was really cold, and we were down by the harbour. I needed to change a bulb in a light post. It’s kind of tricky, and it takes some time with the light fixtures, so I put the heat on and let him stay in the car. (PHG3)
3.2. Effects for the Internship
It hasn’t been easy; we’ve had interns we had to fire because it wasn’t working out. We’ve had interns who stopped showing up to work, so we just had to terminate the internship and not waste any more time on them... We make our working place and resources available in order to help people. And if they don’t want help, then I don’t think it’s our role to try and coax and nag them to come here. In those cases, we have simply ended [the internship]. (AH1)
The interns are not always super motivated to learn Swedish or participate in the internship. They think things move too slowly since they just want a permanent job. They ask, ‘Why should I be here [on an internship]? I just want to work’. That is the most common discussion I have with the interns, to try to convince them that they will get a proper job, but it will take some time. (PHG10)
The [regular] interns I have had previously have done the internship as part of their education, so they have a much greater interest in the work and more prior knowledge, so that is a difference. The ER interns are not always so interested in facilities maintenance work. (PHG3)
As a supervisor, I have some level of responsibility, but that is, of course, shared with the intern. You have a shared responsibility that the [internship] is a meaningful time because you don’t get rich coming here. Instead, you hopefully gain experience and know more things when you leave. So that is a responsibility. Part of it is giving them work experience, but a large part of it is also to teach the language, and that is usually far outside my work description. … [However] I try to provide opportunities for those who are ready to take them, to practice their abilities to hold a conversation in Swedish. That is a strength with this internship. (PHG1)
Instead of thinking that this is a meeting where the intern cannot understand all the conversations and saying that they should rake leaves instead, I give them a notepad and tell them to jot down 20 Swedish words to learn. So it’s about finding a meaningful perspective for the intern in various situations… Instead of zoning out, don’t mind that and grab some words off the PowerPoint! (PHG1)
When we take someone in, I think they are just like anybody else. I can notice a tendency that some want to raise this all the time, and I don’t like that. It bothers me because they are people, and I have taken them in because of who they are, but there are many who want to market [employment requirements], and that doesn’t feel right to me. (PS4)
3.3. Effects for the Project and Organization
It’s been more demanding than I thought it would be. The most difficult thing with the interns [refugees] is the language, to make yourself understood, because they need to understand me, and I need to understand them. That’s the difficult part. (PHG5)
Safety is very, very important. And that includes everything from how you lift things to how you handle equipment. For example, a handheld grass mower with rotor blades: to try to explain to someone who doesn’t know that many Swedish words that you can absolutely never ever put your fingers under the rotor blades. Things like that are very important. (PHG3)
In a large-scale project, they can offer much more diverse tasks, so there I can imagine that you can employ people without a background in construction. … We explained to the municipality [the client] that we cannot take just anyone. If they are supposed to be a carpenter apprentice, they must know some basics, to use the tools. So we can’t just take in a layman carpenter … In this contract we formulated that we would take in ten interns. But after a while, we realized that we will never reach ten interns, so the original idea wasn’t well-thought through. (PS2)
There are no simple jobs. Some think [the interns] should only pick up trash. But they do the same job we do. … They shouldn’t only do the boring tasks. … They must feel like they’re here on the same terms as we are, because I wouldn’t want to go to Iraq and only pick up trash. They need to be involved and be able to see that they can advance [in their career]. The more you learn, the more you can climb the ladder. … They should have all the possibilities. (PHG2)
There has to be an interest from everybody to engage, and here everybody did get very engaged. … The team felt like it has been great fun … and of course that creates team spirit. And everybody was adamant that [the intern] would do well. So, in such a situation, it brings the team closer together... We support each other. (PS2)
I feel all the time that I am happy to be able to help, to help a person who hopefully shall live and feel good here [in Sweden], to have a good life that works and that everybody benefits from. If people around us are feeling good, then we all feel good… It feels good to contribute in that way. (PHG3)
We have to give them a chance, absolutely. It has to be terrible not to have anything to do [when being unemployed]. It becomes a vicious circle where they don’t get anywhere. It must lead to such a terrible frustration. So I think [employment requirements] are really important, it’s our responsibility now. (PHG2)
I think it’s great that we’re doing this, we give these people a chance. But we have to ensure that we get results in the end. We can’t succeed with everybody, but we should have the goal that everybody gets employment. (PHG2)
4.1. Everyday, Lived Experiences of Individual Actors
4.2. Relational Aspects of Practices
4.3. Tensions Caused by Imbalances in Power, Resources, and Interests
4.4. Individual Actors’ Role as Practice Carriers
4.5. First and Second-Order Practices
Conflicts of Interest
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|Project||Relationship with Client||Example of Roles||Individual Interviewee Codes|
|Apartment housing (AH)||Private for private||Area manager, project manager, site manager, ER intern||AH 1–7|
|Pre-school (PS)||Private for public||Area manager, project manager, site manager, work leader, ER intern, public procurement officer||PS 1–6|
|Public housing group (PHG)||Public for public (internal client)||Facilities maintainers of buildings and green areas, ER intern||PHG 1–10|
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Troje, D.; Gluch, P. Beyond Policies and Social Washing: How Social Procurement Unfolds in Practice. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4956. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124956
Troje D, Gluch P. Beyond Policies and Social Washing: How Social Procurement Unfolds in Practice. Sustainability. 2020; 12(12):4956. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124956Chicago/Turabian Style
Troje, Daniella, and Pernilla Gluch. 2020. "Beyond Policies and Social Washing: How Social Procurement Unfolds in Practice" Sustainability 12, no. 12: 4956. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124956