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Construction Management and Economics (November 2005) 23, 927–939

Towards a social network theory of project governance
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, Torrington Place Site, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK Received 9 June 2004; accepted 21 March 2005

The findings of a study are presented using social network analysis in an innovativeapplication involving the analysis of construction project governance. The rationale supporting the application of social network analysis (SNA) within the construction project coalition context was published by this author in a previous paper in this journal. The rationale is summarised in order to explore a very specific framework for the examination of the governance of construction coalitions.The significance of the analytical approach proposed relates to the weakness in existing analytical methods, particularly in relation to changes in approach to procurement following the publication of the Latham and Egan reports. The research framework relates to the key functions of the coalitions to SNA. Within the framework of these key functions, network density and actor point centralitydata are gathered using a form of linear responsibility analysis chart adapted to assemble network data in node list form for input in UCINET 6, SNA analysis and visualisation software. Analysis of the directional, non-trivial, valued and multivariate network data reveals that the study of comparative network density and project actor related point centrality is effective in providing anunderstanding of a number of characteristics of new procurement. Specifically, we can study and evaluate quantitatively, possibly for the first time: use and relevance of financial incentives in the governance of projects; emergent and redundant project actor roles; movement away from traditional independent financial management roles within projects adopting a supply chain management (SCM) approach;alternative candidates for the role of manager of the supply chain and their relative levels of engagement and effectiveness; the effects that the use of clusters and SCM have upon post-contract production activities; the effects that partnering arrangements and standardisation of design have upon transaction costs during the production phase; the effects on project governance of a reduced reliance oncontract for project governance; and characteristics of the relatively new role of cluster leader. The results of the research are presented here principally in tabulated form and involve network density values for contractual, performance incentive and information exchange networks. Centrality values relate to the prominence of the key project actors within the three main types of networkidentified above. Keywords: Governance, procurement, project management, social network analysis (SNA), intra-coalition networks

Pryke (2004a) established the importance of the use of social network analysis (SNA) as a methodology in the analysis of the relationships that comprise the construction project coalition. This importance is partly related to Nohria and Eccles’ (1992, p. 4)five reasons for taking a network perspective, which (in summary) comprise:
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All organisations are social networks and therefore need to be analysed in terms of networks of relationships. Organisations operate in environments comprising networks of other organisations. Difficulty in seeing overall patterns of relationships by looking at one organisationdue to ‘multiple, complex, overlapping webs of relationships’. Actions of actors in organisations can best be explained in terms of their position within networks of relationships.

Construction Management and Economics ISSN 0144-6193 print/ISSN 1466-433X online # 2005 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/01446190500184196


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