سرمایه اجتماعی در سازمان های مبتنی بر پروژه : نقش، ساختار و تاثیر آن بر عملکرد پروژه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|4284||2012||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||7770 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Project Management, Volume 30, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 5–14
The aim of this study is to provide evidence about the role of social capital within project-based organizations. Our assumption is that the social capital of project units increases knowledge integration, producing in turn high levels of performance at the project level. We collected primary data via sociometric questionnaires on 54 projects in the construction field. The analysis has been conducted to study the distinctive structural configuration of projects' social capital, among which we emphasize the role of network cohesion and network range. Our results provide evidence that levels of project performance are significantly associated with the particular structure of projects' social capital.
Organizational literature argues that project-based modes of organizing and controlling work are a response to changing contextual factors (DeFillippi and Arthur, 1998 and Powell, 1996). In particular, these modes' fluid and temporary nature is seen as a means of bringing about organizational change as well as responding to the increasingly complex environments that organizations are faced with as a result of the high pace of technological development in many of the innovative sectors. Thanks to their ability to overcome typical permanent organizational inertia and achieve organizational change or renewal, project-based organizations (or PBOs) have become more noticeable in a range of industries. In such organizations, projects do not simply occur against a backdrop of relatively established, routine activities. Instead, they constitute the organization, creating a scenario in which knowledge diffusion and emergent working practices are likely to be the result of a complex interplay between structural and environmental project conditions and the role played by each individual who takes part in the project itself. Within temporary organizations, teams represent group of people with well-specified objectives and in which members are aggregated in order to bring together individuals and their resources. The complex environment often requires frequent interactions that concern not only members of the same project, but also individuals affiliated with different projects. A better understanding of how groups and projects gather access to tangible and intangible resources may come from studying these patterns of interaction, as well as their overall structure. The way individuals and groups of people are linked, creating a system of interdependent social exchanges between partners who are called upon for tangible and intangible resources, is here referred to as project social capital. While prior literature devotes considerable attention to formal multi-project management arrangements (Cusumano and Nobeoka, 1998), there is a dearth of study on the benefits that informal social exchange relationships may have for a number of organizational outcomes. The aim of the present paper is to explore whether and how a project's social capital has an impact on its levels of performance. Our assumption is that the structural properties of social capital might have important performance implications for projects. In particular, we analyze the structural configurations of projects' social capital, among which we emphasize the role of cohesion (Burt, 1992 and Fernandez and Gould, 1994) and diversity (Burt, 1992). The level of cohesion of project social capital accounts for how strongly interconnected project members are, and is generally used to highlight the degree of constraint of actors as network members. The level of diversity of project social capital, also known as network range, considers how different the partners involved in social exchanges are, taking into account the prevalence of cross-boundary social interactions between projects. Project social capital has thus range to the extent that project members spread their exchange social relationships across multiple areas of expertise. The occasion to bring these theoretical issues to bear on the actual analysis of social capital of temporary projects is provided by network data that we have collected on 54 projects in the construction industry. Our argument proceeds as follows. The next section presents a literature review on project-based organization and inter-project relationships, introducing the concept of project social capital. The third section provides information on our research design, and discusses issues related to data and measurements. In the fourth section we report the results of our analysis. A final discussion section concludes the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Understanding how temporary units coordinate resources and exchange knowledge within project-based organizations is a matter of substantial theoretical interest. Drawing from theoretical concepts of social capital theory, the main objective of this work was to explore a strand still little debated by the organizational literature — the role that social capital plays for organizational project units. We emphasized that the members of a project can engage in formal or informal socializing relationships with people within and outside their unit. These all represent different types of ties or conduits through which project social capital flows. We analyzed the structural properties of social relationships among individuals affiliated with 54 projects relating to an organization operating in the construction industry, focusing in particular on the properties of cohesion (Coleman, 1988) and diversity (Reagans and Zuckerman, 2001). Our findings indicate a positive relationship between the degree of cohesion of projects' social capital and their effectiveness. It follows that cohesive ties not only enable greater willingness to transfer knowledge and share information among project units, but also, if too high, can generate redundant information, less diversified knowledge and scarce novelty (Burt, 1992) which, we suppose, influence project effectiveness negatively. Our empirical results show a quadratic U-shaped curvilinear relationship between the cohesion of project social capital and project performance, demonstrating that intermediate levels of cohesion maximize project performance. Diversity relates to the specific areas or domains of single projects and project members: it is shown that although heterogeneity enhances the capacity for creative problem-solving and allows individuals to share different sets of contacts, skills, information, and experiences, an excessive level of diversity featuring the project social capital decreases absorptive capacity, and in turn project performance. Results reported in this study show that there is a U-shaped curvilinear relationship between the level of diversity of project social capital and project performance, demonstrating that intermediate levels of network range maximize single project performance. The present study contributes to previous research in several ways. To our knowledge, except in a few cases (Arthur et al., 2001 and Grabher, 2002a), there is a lack of studies exploring in an analytical way and through the use of empirical data the interdependences between projects and the network of personal relationships built around projects (Grabher, 2002a). In addition, no studies have yet analyzed the relationship between social capital and project performance by considering the impact of the structure of inter-unit exchange networks on both qualitative and economic dimensions of performance. In the present study we have examined how resources and knowledge are channeled through network relations that mainly involve the project level. Although the effects of social capital have been studied at individual, group, and organizational level (Burt, 1997, Oh et al., 2006 and Pennings and Lee, 1999), there is a dearth of study on project social capital. Recent literature has labeled “the set of resources made available to a group through group members' social relationships within the social structure of the group itself, as well as in the broader formal and informal structure of the organization” as group social capital (Oh et al., 2006: 570). Our notion of project social capital, however, is not introduced to compete with that of group social capital, but instead to adapt and expand it to the specific context in which PBOs operate and perform. Like groups, projects are formed by multiple members who are engaged in frequent communication with other individuals within and outside the group. Unlike groups, projects often involve people working together on complex innovative tasks for a well-defined limited period of time. It is likely that projects will become highly embedded in a set of project-specific relationships in addition to those that their individual members develop. But our construct of project social capital also differs from that of organizational social capital, defined as a distinctive organizational resource reflecting the character of social relations within the firm (Pennings and Lee, 1999). We use this project-level definition, because it especially highlights how social capital contributes both to resources and information generation and their appropriation with project-based organizations, where employees likely engage in social activities either inside or outside of the workplace (e.g. Bresnen et al., 2004). While the organizational social capital presumes that resources accrue to the “firm”, we assume that in PBOs individuals draw on social capital to perform in activities which are integrative to specific projects. As a result, whereas social relations produce benefits that directly affect single projects, the extension of such benefits to the whole organization will depend on the capability to further manage such social relations beyond the duration of the project. In this situation, project social capital might be incorporated, and turned into, organizational social capital. Our findings have important managerial implications as well. They may be helpful for project leaders and individuals who manage people working in project-based contexts, because they provide important insights about the management of inter-project exchange networks within organizations. Our results suggest that through an appropriate management of social capital, project units can increase coordination and knowledge integration, producing in turn high levels of performance at the project level. More specifically, the social capital is useful not only to improve the economic performance of the project but also to reduce the number of quality problems, which are some of the main causes of additional costs in construction projects. The results of this study must be viewed with respect to a number of limitations. First, most of the data were gathered at a single point of time. While the theory implies causality in a number of relationships studied, this study could not verify the direction of causality. Further, the study was conducted within the construction industry and, while it enhances the literature in these areas, questions remain open about the empirical extension of our results. Obviously the non-random choice of setting for our study and the specific sample that we have chosen introduce a number of idiosyncratic elements in our design, and make its replication in different organizational fields problematic.