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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2013

João S. Areias and Vasco Eiriz

Projects are a part of everyday life in industrial firms, playing a relevant role in terms of accomplishing strategic objectives, implementing strategy, and developing

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Abstract

Purpose

Projects are a part of everyday life in industrial firms, playing a relevant role in terms of accomplishing strategic objectives, implementing strategy, and developing competitive advantage. Projects are developed within industrial networks and have a momentum of their own. This paper aims to describe the role of inter‐organizational project networks that are embedded within the firm's network of relationships in the development of competitive advantage.

Design/methodology/approach

The role of inter‐organizational projects in developing competitive advantage was analysed in four inter‐organizational projects involving firms from the Portuguese textile and clothing industry.

Findings

Based on the industrial network approach, projects are framed within the conceptual model of activities, actors and resources. Considering the four studied cases, the analysis is focused on the impact of project networks on activities, resources and actors involved, as well as on the competitiveness of the firms involved in the studied networks.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to management practice by focusing on the contribution of inter‐organizational projects in the development of competitive advantage. Based on the analysis of four different cases, this paper highlights the potential role of project networks in the relationship network of the firm.

Details

Strategic Direction, vol. 29 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0258-0543

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2021

Sulafa Badi, Hanxiao Ji and Edward G. Ochieng

This study aims to examine how embeddedness influences consultants' information seeking when making decisions within a social network of relationships, and how these…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine how embeddedness influences consultants' information seeking when making decisions within a social network of relationships, and how these social networks evolve throughout the project delivery stages. The study is grounded in social network theory and examines embeddedness from three perspectives: structural (network cohesion), relational (tie strength in terms of friendship and knowledge awareness) and actor prominence.

Design/methodology/approach

A social network analysis (SNA) questionnaire was administered to a team of consultants working on a management consultancy project in Shanghai, China. The SNA measures of density, degree centrality and betweenness centrality were used to analyse relationship patterns among project team members, permitting comparison between the networks. Networks were also compared across the three project delivery stages of collect, consider and create.

Findings

Structural embeddedness was observed in the active information seeking behaviour among consultancy team members. The moderate network density of the self-organising information seeking networks across the project delivery stages ensures that the team remains connected but avoids information redundancy and overload. Relational embeddedness was evident through the multiplexity of ties among team members with overlapping friendship and information seeking relationships. The knowledge awareness network's sparseness indicates a team of autonomous knowledge workers with distributed expertise. Project managers were the most prominent actors across the three project delivery stages, underlining these actors' relational leadership role.

Practical implications

The study provides a deeper understanding of collaborative decision-making behaviours in dynamic-project environments. Limited attempts have been made to visualise and analyse the relationships involved in small consulting teams. The novelty of the network approach adopted stems from its ability to offer a structural view of the relationship among consultants, thus offering a distinctive and arguably more complete picture of consultancy team dynamics.

Originality/value

The study validates the social network theory of embeddedness in a real-world collaborative decision-making setting and provides a deeper understanding of information seeking behaviours for decision-making in dynamic-project environments. From a project management process viewpoint, the evolving nature of the information seeking network as it changes across the project stages with associated actors' roles was also visualised graphically, offering a distinctive and arguably more complete picture of consultancy team dynamics.

Details

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0401

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Article
Publication date: 26 March 2020

Guangdong Wu, Junwei Zheng, Xianbo Zhao and Jian Zuo

This study aims to investigate how the strength of ties (i.e. strong ties and weak ties) in megaproject networks influences project performance in terms of types of conflicts.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate how the strength of ties (i.e. strong ties and weak ties) in megaproject networks influences project performance in terms of types of conflicts.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was undertaken with professionals in Chinese megaprojects and 445 valid responses were received. A conflict-based theoretical model was developed and tested with structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results indicated that task conflict had a constructive effect on project performance, whereas relationship conflict and process conflict had destructive effects. Both strong and weak ties positively affected project performance, and that weak ties exerted greater effects on performance. The introduction of conflicts significantly weakened the effect of strong ties on project performance. Strong ties indirectly affected project performance via task conflict and relationship conflict, whereas weak ties affected performance only through task conflict. Task conflict had a constructive effect on project performance, whereas relationship conflict and process conflict had destructive impact.

Research limitations/implications

This study identified the positive effect of strength of ties on project performance as well as the constructive and destructive roles of conflicts. Furthermore, the findings provided evidence that strength of ties and conflicts were critical factors for project performance. While, there are still limitations. There are other attributes of megaproject networks, such as network nodes’ characteristics and network structure, which may influence conflicts and project performance. Future research would be conducted to explore the role of these variables. Meanwhile, because different types of conflicts may mutually transform under certain conditions, future research would also address this issue in megaprojects.

Practical implications

As for the management strategies, project stakeholders should know the existence of project networks, exactly assess their resource endowment, especially their external and internal relationship network. In accordance with changes of the project network, stakeholders should share knowledge and learn techniques about how to respond to relationship disturbances, thus reducing relationship conflict and process conflict. Furthermore, stakeholders should place an emphasis on fostering and reinforcing communication and trust, thus effectively resolving task conflict, ambiguity and uncertainty engendered from network ties in a megaproject network.

Originality/value

The main contribution of this study is threefold. First, this study will enrich the literature on strength of ties by accentuating the roles of conflicts in megaproject context. Second, this study contributes to the theoretical development of a conceptual model for explaining the interrelationships among strength of ties, conflicts and project performance. Third, this study will respond to the call “which dimension, i.e. strong ties or weak ties, is more influential” by exploring the direct and indirect effects of strength of ties on project performance.

Details

International Journal of Conflict Management, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1044-4068

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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2020

Moronke Idiagbon-Oke and Adegoke Oke

In contrast to the vertical supply chain structure, firms are increasingly engaging in horizontal inter-firm collaborations to develop new technologies, products and…

Abstract

Purpose

In contrast to the vertical supply chain structure, firms are increasingly engaging in horizontal inter-firm collaborations to develop new technologies, products and services, yet, little is known about factors that influence the governance mechanism and performance of such collaborative projects. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how different factors affect the role or the centrality of the governing mechanism (the broker) in inter-firm collaborative networks.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a case study method approach, this paper studies three dynamic networks comprising firms that are not in a traditional supply chain relationship. The networks comprised firms engaged in the development of different aspects of an innovative automotive technology.

Findings

The study finds that broker’s centrality varies over time and is directly related to project performance; network structure and perceived broker power are related to broker centrality in dynamic networks. The more loosely connected a network is (open network), the more the degree of broker centrality. The higher the degree of expert power that a broker is perceived to possess, the higher is the degree of broker centrality.

Originality/value

Investigating governance mechanism and determinants of network outcomes in inter-firm collaboration for new product development represents a departure from the traditional studies on similar phenomena in vertically structured supply chain arrangements; thus, contributes to the literature on innovation in inter-firm arrangements. Understanding how the salient factors contribute to performance at the network level builds on firm level and dyadic level of analysis or focus of previous studies.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2015

Sheila Martin, Marko Pahor and Marko Jaklič

The recent economic crisis has significantly slowed Slovenia’s recent social and economic progress and exposed some important long-term problems such as a reliance on low…

Abstract

Purpose

The recent economic crisis has significantly slowed Slovenia’s recent social and economic progress and exposed some important long-term problems such as a reliance on low value added industries and lagging labor productivity. The Slovenian government has taken steps to create research partnerships between public science and the private sector and among multiple private sector companies. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a social network analysis (SNA) of the research partnerships and examine whether public funding has created the desired partnerships.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed a SNA in two stages. In the first stage, the authors treated the founding partners of government-funded 32 research centers as a single two-mode network and investigated how each of the members was bound to the network. In the second stage of the analysis the authors used project data from ten of the centers to characterize a project network based on collaborations on specific projects. Thus, the second stage overlaps the center network with the project network. The authors used information from interviews with network members to assist in interpreting the results.

Findings

Networking policies are stimulating collaborations among different types of centers and partners, but to differing degrees. While the formal collaborative network showed strong participation from the private sector, public research organizations, and higher education institutions, some of the centers are not well connected to the rest of the network. Partnership in the development of a proposal in response to a tender does not always translate into project collaboration, and the networks have evolved as project workplans and staffing plans are developed. The innovation network is evolving into an international network within and across scientific areas. Networks are path dependent and require policy stability; experienced bridging institutions can fill gaps where partners lack experience.

Research limitations/implications

The definition of a network member is the company, faculty, or department. In reality, individuals within these organizations are acting on their own connections and experiences, and these may or may not encourage other individuals in the same organization to engage in partnerships. Thus, the authors may be overstating the extent to which one connection among organizations generates experience that will lead to future connection. Another important limitation of the data is that for the second stage of the analysis the authors received project information from only ten of the 32 formal center programs examined in the first stage.

Practical implications

Partnership is a learned behavior and the development of trust among partners takes time. The Slovenian government should provide policy stability and allow niches of technical excellence to emerge through consortium proposals. They should monitor the project partnerships and adjust funding so that it is reaching applicants that are actually partnering on projects rather than working alone or within their own institutional types. Other nations should also monitor the impact of partnership programs to ensure that as they evolve the funding is continuing to support and demonstrate the benefits partnership behavior.

Social implications

Due to the path dependent nature of innovation partnerships, the authors expect participation in innovation networks to generate a change in the culture of research and development (R & D) partnerships in Slovenia. However, this transition will occur faster as organizations partner face-to-face on actual projects. Centrality in a network fosters common understanding and shared principles of collaboration.

Originality/value

Like many nations struggling to emerge from the recession, Slovenia has to examine its long-term strategy for upgrading its industries and improving productivity. This paper demonstrates how policies to enhance the innovation agenda might be more effective by examining how the networking resources are actually being used, whether participants are participating in networks that cross institutional types, whether policies are encouraging the exchange of information across stages of the innovation process, and therefore whether the policy will move the culture toward greater collaboration and R & D effectiveness. The results can assist Slovenia’s policymakers in redesigning innovation network policy.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Rami Sariola and Miia Maarit Martinsuo

This paper investigates third-party relationships in project networks in the construction industry and seeks increased understanding on how such relationships can be…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates third-party relationships in project networks in the construction industry and seeks increased understanding on how such relationships can be strengthened. The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework and propositions on enhanced relationship strength between component suppliers and designers as third parties.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual approach is used in this paper. Previous empirical research on business relationships, project networks and relationship strength is reviewed systematically, to identify factors required for strengthening the relationship in project networks.

Findings

Cooperative practices needed for strengthening the relationships in project networks were identified. The framework on how such practices are associated with relationship strength between supplier and designers was developed. Propositions on strengthening the relationship between component suppliers and designers were stated. These propositions can be developed further and tested in a hypothetic-deductive study.

Research limitations/implications

The research was delimited by the choice of designers as third parties. The authors used some excerpts from the earlier interview study with over 20 designers, to illustrate the issues. Empirical analysis was not included in this paper which causes an evident limitation to validity. Additional research is proposed on analyzing the contractors’ and suppliers’ viewpoints to third-party relationships.

Practical implications

The paper suggests cooperative practices for construction component suppliers to enhance their relationship strength with third parties in project networks.

Originality/value

Limited research attention has been directed at the third-party relationships of suppliers in project networks. This paper offers important knowledge about these less salient relationships in project networks, beyond a simple dyadic relationship in the direct supply chain.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2018

Artur Janusz, Agata Bednarek, Leszek Komarowski, Pawel Boniecki and Per Engelseth

The purpose of this paper is to reveal the interdependencies involved and how interaction takes place in the context of a project organization as a network of academic and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reveal the interdependencies involved and how interaction takes place in the context of a project organization as a network of academic and business actors.

Design/methodology/approach

This study focuses on relationships between business and academia and applies a single case research strategy. Data are collected through a series of theoretically sampled in-depth interviews including company observations. The single case study provides a rich narrative of the network structure and processes involved in establishing, implementing and completing a research project in Poland. The Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Group network approach focusing on resource combinations that emerge in a network structure characterized by interdependency and integration is applied to analyze interaction in this project-organized network.

Findings

Change in interdependencies, interaction and integration are analyzed individually, and in conclusion in relation to each other. While supply chain management literature postulates that integration is a management goal, a driver of successful business, this study points out that integration is an outcome of interaction in a context of changing interdependencies. This means that managerial focus should rather be driven to understanding the nature of network interdependencies, their path of change and how interaction is carried out in this emergent context.

Originality/value

The study aims to help better understand the potential for research project cooperation by explaining how businesses and research units can cooperate through an understanding that integration is a complex phenomenon, focusing on how management may better support services production through careful consideration of that integration is developed through considerations of interdependencies as context of interaction in the varied business cultures a project network comprises. Project management is more a learning process than a planning process.

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Article
Publication date: 6 June 2016

Anssi Jussila, Tuija Mainela and Satu Nätti

The purpose of this paper is to examine the formation of strategic networks between second-tier actors in the context of a construction megaproject. The research question…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the formation of strategic networks between second-tier actors in the context of a construction megaproject. The research question addressed is: How do second-tier strategic networks form in high uncertainty projects?

Design/methodology/approach

This is a qualitative single-case study, which examines strategic network formation in the context of a nuclear power plant construction project. Focused interviews with parties involved or having an interest in the megaproject were used as the primary data collection method.

Findings

The conditions for network formation in a megaproject context are specified with a focus on the determinants of uncertainty. A total of six second-tier network types with different formation conditions and potential roles in the project are characterized.

Research limitations/implications

Analyzing the prerequisites of strategic network formation and examining the characteristics of various networks (that are either planned, taking shape or existing between the companies) in this specific context creates a basis for further study of network formation over network levels.

Practical implications

The formation of strategic networks is critical for many actors in the construction and related industries who are willing to participate in large projects. With the help of our findings, managers are able to define opportunities to orchestrate early phase network formation processes in uncertain circumstances, such as megaprojects.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper lies in the close examination of strategic network formation from the second-tier actor perspective under circumstances of high uncertainty related to the early phases of megaprojects. Likewise, the illustration of different types of evolving nets in different phases of uncertain projects offers a contribution to the present discussion on strategic nets.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2010

Antonio Díaz Andrade and Cathy Urquhart

This paper seeks to use actor network theory (ANT) to examine the different phases – i.e. translation process – of an information and communication technology (ICT…

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3898

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to use actor network theory (ANT) to examine the different phases – i.e. translation process – of an information and communication technology (ICT) initiative intended to bring development to underserved rural communities in the Peruvian Andes by providing access to computers and the internet.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper employs a holistic‐multiple case study based on cross‐sectional data collected between July and November 2005 by means of in‐depth interviews, field notes and photographs gathered in eight rural communities in Peru, plus demographic data and background reports obtained from the sponsor of an ICT for development (ICT4D) project. The collected data are analysed through the lens of ANT.

Findings

The ANT analysis dissects the history of the translations of the ICT4D project. ANT analytic dimensions of convergence and devices afford a great deal of insight into the underlying anatomy of the project and its assumptions. The study shows that when actors' interests are not aligned and the network procedures defined by the ICT4D initiative sponsors are unfamiliar to local people, the network cannot be established.

Practical implications

Since ICT4D projects invariably superimpose technological networks over existing networks, ANT analytic dimensions do provide some unique and useful understandings for such projects. ANT overall affords visibility of the actions of both humans and non‐humans, and their disparate goals. The focus on the alignment of disparate goals is particularly important in ICT4D research, where the recipients need to be engaged in a different way. Often in ICT4D projects, participants are using ICT for the first time, and there is no compulsion for them to do so. So the process of translation is very important in an ICT4D context; while there are many ways to engage participants, ANT gives particular insight into how that process might play out.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates the usefulness of ANT's concepts for analysing a rural telecentre project and itemises how the use of each ANT analytical concept might contribute to ICT4D research.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2008

Karlos Artto, Kirsi Eloranta and Jaakko Kujala

This paper seeks to address the risks for a main contractor firm's project business that arise from subcontractors' inter‐organizational relationships in complex‐ and…

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2124

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to address the risks for a main contractor firm's project business that arise from subcontractors' inter‐organizational relationships in complex‐ and dynamic‐project networks.

Design/methodology/approach

Existing project risk management research neglects the management of such relational risks in networks. This paper discusses this un‐researched area by analyzing triads representing sub‐networks of three actors in a larger network. The empirical study employed several semi‐structured interviews in two global contractor organizations. Critical incidents identified in triadic settings were used to explain the logic of how risks arose from subcontractors' inter‐organizational relationships.

Findings

This paper identifies four categories of risk sources characterized by subcontractors' inter‐organizational relationships. The four risk source categories are based on subcontractors' relationships with other subcontractors, the contractor's competitor the contractor's client and non‐business actors (e.g. a local authority or regulatory body).

Research limitations/implications

The empirical study emphasizes the dynamic nature of the risks that business relationships cause in the main contractor's current and future projects and business. Furthermore, the empirical analysis suggests that the risks arising from subcontractors' relationships have an impact on two different layers: the temporary project network layer and the permanent business network layer. The impacts of risk on the temporary project network layer relate to specific sales and delivery projects, whereas the impacts of risk on the permanent business network layer relate often to changes in the network position of the business players.

Originality/value

This paper suggests a novel risk management approach, where risks and opportunities arising from subcontractors' relationships are actively taken into account in subcontractor management.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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