Author: Mok, Ka Yan
Title: A network-theory based model for stakeholder analysis in mega construction projects
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Construction industry -- Management
Project management
Pages: xv, 303, 68, xxviii pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Mega construction projects (MCPs) are highly uncertain and volatile in nature. They involve numerous stakeholder groups who have discrepant issues and expectations, and are interrelated by various social interactions in the project. MCP development can positively or negatively impact the vested interests of stakeholders; who are making their best endeavour, in different ways, to raise the project team's salience in safeguarding their interests. In addition, stakeholder issues arising from the same MCP are interconnected. When an issue is not properly addressed, its presence can be the source of occurrences of other interrelated issues in the same project environment, producing chain effects of more stakeholder issues that can further result in conflicts and project resisting forces. This complex MCP nature requires a set of systematic methods and procedures to analyse and manage MCP stakeholders, issues and relationships. Stakeholder management is an effective approach for doing this by bringing stakeholder issues to the surface and building robust stakeholder relationships; and stakeholder analysis is an essential element of this process to interpreting the complex stakeholder environment, for formulating proper stakeholder management strategies. Notwithstanding the recent growth of project stakeholder analysis theories and approaches, the performance of stakeholder management in MCPs has still been criticized as being unsatisfactory (Pryke and Smyth, 2006). This can be attributed to several reasons. First, the conventional stakeholder analysis practice has some methodological constraints when applied in MCPs - it disregards stakeholder relationships, stakeholder issue interdependencies, and the propagating impacts produced by these network systems on the project. These methodological limitations confine the accuracy and effectiveness of MCP stakeholder analysis. Besides, stakeholder analysis is more complex in MCPs than in ordinary projects, but some practitioners may not possess sufficient skills and knowledge to undertake this task, and the various methods available have led them to confusion in practice (Jepsen and Eskerod, 2009). More importantly, there is a lack of a systematic and holistic model for MCP stakeholder analysis and management. The existing models, in construction project context, have been criticized as being spontaneous and not entirely coherent and formal. A fragmented and informal stakeholder analysis process is not sufficient to address and manage the complex stakeholder interfaces in mega developments. As such, a systematic and holistic model is in need of development for analysing and managing stakeholder complexities in MCPs. With the above background, this research aims to develop a systematic and holistic model for stakeholder analysis and management in MCPs, specifically investigating stakeholder interactions and stakeholder-related issue interdependencies from a network perspective. The three main objectives of this research are: (1) to develop and refine a social network approach for analysing stakeholders and their interactions in MCPs, (2) to develop and refine a social network approach for analysing stakeholder-related issues and their interdependencies in MCPs, and (3) to develop and validate a systematic and holistic model, and its application guideline, building upon the network perspective, for stakeholder analysis and management in MCPs.
The research objectives have been fulfilled mainly through literature review, case studies, interviews and questionnaire survey, conducted in Hong Kong. Findings of the research can be summarized into four main areas: (1) the development and validation of a social network approach for analysing stakeholders and their relationships in MCPs, with an emphasis on stakeholder information exchange interactions; (2) the development and validation of a network approach for analysing stakeholder-related issues and issue interdependencies in MCPs; (3) the development and validation of a social network model and its associated application guideline for stakeholder analysis in MCPs; and (4) the identification of practical insights on MCP stakeholder management from four case studies representing different MCP types. This study has contributed to the body of knowledge. This research contributes to a new angle, the network perspective, of analysing both stakeholders and stakeholder-related issues in mega project developments. Building upon the network theory, this study develops a model to identify and decipher the underlying networks of both stakeholders and stakeholder-related issues in MCPs; as well as recognize and examine the critical stakeholders, issues and interdependencies which play crucial roles in structuring the network systems. Compared to the conventional stakeholder analysis practice, this network perspective brings higher accuracy and more effective evaluation on the propagating effects between stakeholders and between their associated issues on MCP development. This research study has also improved understanding of MCP stakeholder analysis and management in four aspects: 1. The social network approach for assessing stakeholders and their interrelationships in MCPs can improve the traditional MCP stakeholder analysis practice, which has often regarded stakeholders as staying in a hub-and-spoke environment and relied too heavily upon individual stakeholder attributes when assessing stakeholder impacts. 2. The network-theory based approach for analysing stakeholder-related issues and issue interdependencies in MCPs can improve the conventional MCP stakeholder issue analysis practice; which has often ignored the sources or origins of stakeholder issues, considered issues as being independent and stationery in project environment, and overlooked the propagating effects of these issue interdependencies on project development. 3. The social network model and its associated application guideline can serve as a systematic and generic reference for MCP leaders, to design and conduct a network-theory based stakeholder management process which suits the characteristics and needs of their MCPs. 4. The stakeholder analysis results in the four case studies which can be useful to practitioners who are involved or take the lead in managing similar MCPs. The major project challenges, possible causes and recommendations identified can bring them practical insights when dealing with similar problems in future mega developments.
Access: open access

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