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Conflict dynamics in a dam construction project: a case study

Braj Kishor Mahato (WEN Qatar W.L.L., Doha, Qatar)
Stephen O. Ogunlana (School of the Built Environment, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 18 November 2011



The purpose of this paper is to present a model for a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing interface conflict from the early stages of a dam construction project.


A case study methodology is adopted. Following comprehensive literature review, qualitative data were gathered from case studies through interviews conducted on the Middle Marsyangdi Hydroelectric Project (MMHEP) dam project in Nepal. Causal loop diagrams on the typical evolution of key indicators of interface conflict were then developed and a simulate‐able model of interface conflict was derived using system dynamic modeling technique. The model was then simulated to derive viable policies for future management of dam construction projects in developing countries.


The study reveals that interface conflicts at the construction stage of projects are caused mainly by lack of effective Environmental Impact Assessment, public participation and mutual consultation, on timely basis and accurate information from the early stages of projects. The system dynamic model is able to replicate general behavior of evolution of interface conflict in a dam construction project. Furthermore, the study explored three viable policies to avoid and minimize interface conflict in the construction stage of a dam project. The policies were tested and demonstrated to be useful in improving the value of projects to stakeholders. It is demonstrated that a combination of policies is better than adopting a single policy to stakeholder management.


The paper demonstrates the utility of system dynamics as a modeling tool for understanding the dynamics of conflicts on dam construction projects. The model should be helpful to policy makers on large projects, especially those likely to be subject to social and environmental conflict. Policies derived from the model have the potential of being used to assess and take proactive measures to manage conflicts effectively and efficiently from early in a project's life.



Kishor Mahato, B. and Ogunlana, S.O. (2011), "Conflict dynamics in a dam construction project: a case study", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 176-194.



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