This is my 25th year at the helm of the journal, Construction Management and Economics. I have enjoyed being at the centre of this and especially enjoyed interacting with so many people in our academic community; authors, referees, editorial board and publishers. There is a huge amount of support among the construction management community for this journal. Long may it continue!
However, nothing is forever. My contract as Editor-in-Chief has come to an end. Taylor & Francis, the publishers of Construction Management and Economics, have started the search for a new Editor-in-Chief. We are hoping that the new person will soon be identified and that the transition can be effected soon. Whatever happens, this is my last year in the post.
I look forward to new challenges and opportunities!
In order to manage project complexity and uncertainty, traditional project management literature has placed great emphasis on technical issues such as planning, scheduling, risk analysis and project management techniques, however, there is growing recognition of ‘self-organized’ and relational forms of governance in projects. Increasingly, contemporary management scholars are viewing the project coalition as a temporary (social) network involving a group of interdependent actors who interact and collaborate towards the delivery of the project objectives (Dubois and Gadde, 2000). These interactions often take place through non-contractual, multi-functional and self-organizing networks of individuals, organizations and supply chain actors temporarily brought together through project-related common tasks with flows of materials, information and financial resources.
Network theory (in a broad sense) is a dominant theoretical paradigm in management research and has contributed new insight to management culture and practice in various areas such as facilitating knowledge circulation and creation, improving firms’ governance, boosting individual careers; facilitating the success of entrepreneurial ventures and composing and managing teams. It offers a powerful analytical tool for capturing, analysing and visualising complex construction projects and their interacting individuals and organizations.
Having said that, studies adopting a network-analytical perspective remain scarce in the construction management domain (Hossain and Wu, 2009; Kratzer et al., 2010) compared to other management disciplines (Balkundi and Harrison, 2006). Therefore, the intention of this special issue is to continue the dialogue between the two fields of network theory and construction management with the aim of stimulating theory development and providing empirical insight on building effective project and supply chain networks.
Social networks in construction provide the overarching theme and empirical phenomena for this special issue and the context is effective project delivery. Network theory (including several perspectives such as social network approach, actor-network theory, industrial network approach, strategic networks, etc.) offer opportunities to develop and challenge many of the prevailing thinking related to projects and construction:
- A social network approach enables better understanding of the role and the importance of informal social structures that operate “behind the chart” in organizational contexts. The use of social network analysis (SNA) can reveal the formal and informal organisational structures and the communication patterns in projects.
- A social network approach enables better understanding of the role and the importance of informal social structures that operate “behind the chart” in organizational contexts. The use of social network analysis can reveal the formal and informal organisational structures and the communication patterns in projects.
- Collaboration often takes place through networks of informal relations rather than channels strictly dictated by formal contractual agreements or reporting structures.
- Dyadic contractual relationships established at tender stages makes an incomplete contribution to effective project delivery, particularly in complex projects. The social network structure can have a significant influence on substantive outcome and performance in construction projects.
- The transition from mobilised resources to successful project delivery teams dedicated to project function delivery is a complex transition.
Contributions are also invited that examine how the construction context can afford new insights into network theories. The complex project environment prevailing in construction provides the opportunity to study spatio-temporal effects in network topographical terms. Applications might include spatio-temporal studies relating to risk, the effective application of resources, and issues of coordination in design and project delivery. Temporal heterogeneity in construction projects and project event choreography have important spatio-temporal aspects that have yet to be explored but which have considerable potential through the application of SNA.