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Effects of inter-organizational conflicts on construction project added value in China

Guangdong Wu (Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang, China)
Xianbo Zhao (Central Queensland University, Sydney, Australia)
Jian Zuo (School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 9 October 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of inter-organizational conflicts on the project added value in the Chinese construction industry, and also to examine the mediating effect of conflicts on project added value and the moderating effect of conflict management strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual model was developed, and a structured questionnaire survey was conducted with 667 professionals. The structural equation modeling technique was used to analyze the data.

Findings

The results showed that task conflict, relationship conflict and process conflict were influenced by subject characteristics of project participants, bilateral relationship characteristics and project characteristics. Similarly, these three types of conflicts interact with each other. Meanwhile, these three types of conflicts influence the added value in construction projects, which are moderated by conflict management strategies. Under a collaborating strategy, task conflict and process conflict were positively associated with project added value, and relationship conflict was negatively associated with project added value. Under a competing strategy, task conflict, process conflict and relationship conflict were negatively associated with added value in construction projects. Therefore, the constructive and destructive effects of conflicts on project added value under different conflict management strategies are verified in Chinese construction projects.

Research limitations/implications

The variables may not be exhaustive for construction projects and most of them were applied in construction projects for the first time. As a result, their rationality and effectiveness could be further improved. The results implied that inter-organizational conflicts had a constructive effect on project added value and should attract broad attention for future research. Additionally, different driving factors had different influences on these conflicts, and even the driving factors can be divided into different dimensions.

Practical implications

This study provides a better understanding of the relationship between inter-organizational conflicts and added value in construction projects, and a reliable reference for the project manager to effectively deal with these conflicts. In addition, this research reveals the effects of conflicts on project added value and the path of conflicts transformation. This provides a useful reference for project managers to take advantage of the positive effect of task conflict and process conflict, and to avoid the negative effect of relationship conflict.

Originality/value

Very few studies attempted to examine the effects of inter-organizational conflicts on project added value in construction projects. Therefore, this research makes significant theoretical and practical contributions to the existing body of knowledge on the conflict management and project added value. This research provides an empirical evidence to support the viewpoint that different types of conflicts can be mutually transformed. Similarly, this study explains how conflicts present functional and dysfunctional effects in construction projects. Both of them are potential theoretical contributions to the existing body of knowledge.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71561009 and 71301065), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M590605 and 2017T100477), Postdoctoral Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (2016KY27), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (S2017QNJJB0493), and Social Science Planning Foundation of Jiangxi Province (16GL32).

Citation

Wu, G., Zhao, X. and Zuo, J. (2017), "Effects of inter-organizational conflicts on construction project added value in China", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 695-723. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-03-2017-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited