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How does strength of ties influence project performance in Chinese megaprojects? A conflict-based perspective

journal contribution
posted on 21.09.2020, 00:00 by G Wu, J Zheng, Xianbo ZhaoXianbo Zhao, J Zuo
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.








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External Author Affiliations

Kunming University of Science and Technology, Chongqing University, China; The University of Adelaide

Era Eligible



International Journal of Conflict Management