The purpose of this paper is to explore the development of knowledge about facilities management (FM), in particular, the management of FM services in practice, education and research. The paper questions whether we know more about optimal models for in-house or outsourcing FM after 25 years of applied research and development of best practices.
The paper is based on literature reviews, case studies and personal experiences from practice for over 25 years, concentrating on the public sector. The paper maintains an international focus on the FM development, with particular focus on the development in Norway and the Nordic countries. The knowledge development triangle, and its integration of education, research and practice, is used as an underlying theoretical framework.
The knowledge regarding management of FM services in both the public and private sector has been developed over the past two decades. The changes in both sectors is reflected in all the three aspects of the knowledge triangle. While the use of outsourcing increased significantly in popularity during the past 25 years, the Norwegian profile continues to have limited use of outsourcing.
The paper is based on a qualified selection of doctoral theses, research reports and scientific articles published in the period 1990-2015. The explorations include limited quantitative data.
The choice for FM in practice, whether fully or partly to produce services with internal resources or to make arrangements with external suppliers, is an important strategic decision regarding the choice of a procurement strategy for the company or the organisation. This decision is not necessarily about outsourcing or in-house but rather the strategic sourcing and management of the needed services.
A total of 25 years of research have shown that a simple solution and answer to the questions about in-house or outsourcing FM services is lacking. To find a good solution, it is necessary to understand the content of FM services with respect to quality and efficiency, and to understand the interaction between FM, the core activities and the users.