Increasingly, scholars are recognising the importance of resilience in projects. However, there is a lack of research on the resilience of temporary inter-organisational projects while considering the intricate relationship among multiple stakeholder organisations. We conducted an embedded comparative case study to investigate the mechanisms how stakeholder relationships involving prior ties and inter-organisational governance in the project support its resilience. Our results show that few prior ties among stakeholders keep them vigilant, fostering the readiness and preparedness for resilience, while many prior ties keep social solidarity among stakeholders, fostering the response and recovery for resilience. Contractual and relational governance improves resilience by clarifying stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities and forming collective cognition, respectively. We believe a plural governance design based on prior ties among stakeholders will improve resilience of the inter-organisational project, by promoting dynamically distributed and centralised stakeholder engagement in preparing, responding and recovering from the unexpected.
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