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Management of multi-cultural teams on international joint venture megaprojects in Asia

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posted on 03.04.2014, 12:07 by Eric Webb
There have been many megaprojects done by project-based international joint ventures ( PBIJVs ) in Asia with Western expatriate project managers leading the way. However, the management style expected at a local level in Asia on construction projects is unique, and for many observers appeared to be unstructured, un-systemized and autocratic. Moreover, the varying strains of Chinese-based ethics and beliefs, including networking, trust, face and avoidance of confrontation heavily influenced management practices. This research investigated how a PBIJV should approach a complex construction megaproject in Asia and how experienced Western expatriate project managers actually managed and lead these projects to achieve overall project success. The aim of this research was to propose a framework for Western expatriate project managers to be used as a guide in the project management of PBIJVs in complex construction megaprojects in Asia, with East-West multi-cultural dispersed project teams, in a holistic way with a clear focus on good e-teaming communication and flexibility of project manager thought so that the multi-cultural teams can work more effectively and efficiently, better enabling project success. The thesis begins with an extensive review of published literature related to construction, Asia, culture, total quality management ( TQM ), IJVs, project management and megaprojects. A conceptual framework of work practices and styles required of Western expatriate project managers in the management of PBIJVs in construction on complex megaprojects in Asia, with East-West multi-cultural dispersed project teams, was established from this literature review. This conceptual framework was explored and developed based upon questionnaire responses and interviews with Western project managers with related and extensive work experience in Asia. This research followed a qualitative strategy for the research design and methodology, and adopted a multiple-case study approach. This research followed a combination of questionnaires and an exploratory semi-structured face to face interview approach with manual data analysis. The first stage of the research process involved screening interviews of the short-listed project managers, which comprised of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with an interview guide. The second stage studied three selected cases and comprised of the second stage interviews, direct observations and documentation as the main methods of data collection. The third stage involved the validation of the intermediate framework developed from the multiple-case study conducted during the second stage via a questionnaire with nine people comprising of the project managers of the selected case study projects, screening process project managers and other selected construction industry experts all with extensive working experience in Korea. The findings of this research were presented in the form of a final framework to assist in improving project manager performance and skills on complex PBIJV construction megaprojects in Asia and it was concluded that such a framework would be of benefit to Western project managers as a guideline to manage construction megaprojects in Asia in a more effective and efficient way with the ultimate goal of achieving project success.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Eric Webb

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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