A hybrid model of communication and information management in mega construction projects in Dubai using a new critical success factor approach
2010-06-23T08:28:27Z (GMT) by
Mega construction projects are complex undertakings. The complexity is increased during a construction boom in a city such as Dubai where more than 80% of material and labour resources are imported. The complexities inherent in mega construction projects include uncertainty and interdependencies, which affect project management performance at the operational level where most of the problems occur. Understanding these processes, how they interrelate and how to overcome the complexities is crucial for increasing the chances of project management success. This research contributed to construction project management theory and practice by using a highly inductive exploratory qualitative approach for capturing formal and informal processes in mega construction projects in Dubai. A dynamic model depicting the complementary formal and informal processes is developed showing formal and informal processes and how they interrelate to reduce complexity. Guidelines on how and when to use specific processes are provided as a framework for the model. This framework may be used to help develop communication processes in future complex projects to increase chances of project management success. The research was conducted by exploring two case study projects fitting the characteristics of mega construction projects. Both case study projects were of values above 1.5 Billion US Dollars and were similar in scope with elements including amusement parks, retail areas, hotels, extensive infrastructure and large landscape areas. Both case study projects were of an experimental character, considered an engineering achievement, complex, and thereby, difficult to control. The research data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 83 project staff from both case study projects. Rich picture diagrams of the organization and processes were made from data collected during the interviews and case study project documents. The analysis was performed in three phases where the results from each phase were built upon cumulatively. The first phase examined what the most crucial critical success factors (CSFs) were in the case study projects. These were revealed to be communication, top management support and effective change management. In the second phase each CSF was analyzed where it was found it that the majority of important communication modes were informal and were was most effective in reducing complexity. Furthermore, it was found that the characteristics of the client were crucial in both case study projects. The third phase involved development of the dynamic hybrid model from the rich picture diagrams created showing the interplay between formal and informal processes. It was found that informal processes are ad-hoc and chaotic in nature and controlled by individuals in the project. Development of guidelines for the positive use of informal processes was required. From the analysis it was found that the characteristics of client staff and individuals in the case study projects provided the main guidelines for effective use of the hybrid model. The research provides insights into the formal and informal processes and the reduction and management of complexity inherent in mega construction projects. Current research in managing complexity is from the perspective of the formal process where the informal processes are neglected, despite research and practice indicating their importance in construction projects. The research presents a systemic dynamic model of the processes for mega construction projects revealing that formal and informal processes are required and are complementary. Guidelines for the successful use of the model provide a framework for its application in practice. This shows how it can be used to inform understanding of processes in the context of the research. The model and guidelines were validated via discussions with practitioners experienced in construction of mega projects. Future work should expand the findings to applications of the model in practice for management of complex projects. The model may be used by practitioners to act as a guide in how to manage construction processes to consciously overcome the inherent complexities to achieve project management objectives. This tool may also be used to inform clients of the inherent complexities and the level of informality required to overcome them. IT/IS practitioners may use the model and framework to understand the complexities in construction, and thereby, develop systems that are practically applied in construction projects. Researchers in the field may build upon the model and findings to increase knowledge regarding construction processes, particularly informal processes.