International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Social capital in construction projects : an exploration Koh, Tas Yong; Rowlinson, Steve; Tuuli, Martin M.


The concept and phenomenon of social capital has been identified as an organizing logic that can add value to project organizations. In this respect, social capital is conceptualized as both personal and impersonal linkages between individuals in project organization, the quality of these linkages, and the shared representations embedded within these linkages. Social capital provides a means of coordination and collaboration among project participants. However, given the novelty of the concept in construction settings and peculiarities of construction projects, key questions arise as to what represents and are the forms of social capital in project settings? We adopt a mixed methods approach to answer these questions. Data from a survey of 376 respondents and a case project converge into forming a coherent conceptualization of social capital in construction projects. The findings confirm the multi-faceted nature of social capital and reveal the mechanisms by which social capital facilitates project organizing. Social capital appears to be more acutely needed in construction projects. While structural capital provides the platform for information and influence transfer, relational capital provides psychological safety upon which cognitive capital is translated into task performance. We conclude by discussing both the theoretical and practical contributions of the study to the relational governance discourse in project management.

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