Modeling Communication Networks of an Integrated Project Team for Construction

Sun Kyong Lee, Somik Ghosh


The current study analyzed communication networks of an integrated project delivery (IPD) team based on a series of team meetings over three months. The IPD projects are different from any construction project in their emphasis on collaboration among team members and having a contractual obligation towards sharing profit and loss. Researchers observed and coded the interaction among 26 team members based on who talked to whom in which context about what. Demographic and other individual attributes (e.g., personality, current position, organizational tenure) data was also collected to test various homophily effects. This study aimed to model both structural- and individual-level tie formation in communication networks by using valued exponential random graph modeling (ERGM) that considers not only the presence/absence of ties, but also the value of ties (i.e., frequency of communication). The analysis revealed a few notable differences between the two types of networks, and how each network’s structural mechanism may impact the other. Members talked more frequently about work-related matters overall compared to having informal conversations. Being relatively sparse and decentralized, formal communication networks showed a reciprocity effect: if one talked to another frequently, the opposite was true as well. Frequency of informal communication also influenced the frequency of formal communication, which indicates a multiplexity effect. A notable difference between the two networks was female members’ participation level, measured by outdegree. In formal communication, the three female members spoke significantly less frequently; however, in informal communication, their participation level was significantly higher than male members’. While current position and ethnic homophily were significant in formal communication, they were not in informal communication. Members with higher education were more active in work-related conversations, which was not apparent in the informal communication setting. Members with longer years in current position was more active in work-related conversation while those with longer tenure in their organizations were more active in social conversations. Although there were only four members who had previous experience of working in IPD projects, they talked significantly more than the rest potentially due to their experiences. Members’ personality effects were more consistent between the formal and informal communication network. The introverted were less active and popular than the extroverted; observant members were less active in both formal and informal conversations, and less popular in formal conversations than intuitive members. Members with judging rather than perceptive personality initiated both formal and informal conversations more frequently. Although the multiplexity effect between formal and informal communication networks was significant in both cases of valued ERGM, when we examined the two networks’ relationships with MR-QAP regressions, the result was somewhat different. When controlling for its own structural mechanism, the frequency of formal communication was significantly predicted by the informal communication networks’ transitivity. However, none of the structural parameters of formal communication networks significantly predicted informal communication frequency, which may suggest informal conversation happened rather independently of work-related characteristics, but formal conversations were still influenced by how members talked about non-work matters and the tendency of closure in social chatting partners.

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