Theses Doctoral

The Impact and Role of Boundary Spanners and Boundary Objects in Global Project Networks

Di Marco, Melissa K.

Globalizing is a key dynamic that is both impacting and reshaping the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries. Evolving with the twentieth century technological advances such as information technology, AEC firms are now capable of collaborating in a dispersed manner both on the projects and among participants. Because of the global outlook of firms, particularly to remain competitive and to reach new markets, project network participants, are becoming increasingly multi-cultural and multi-lingual. This participant diversity, both individually and organizationally, can lead to boundary formation. Though past research has explored the boundary spanning capabilities within organizations, little is known about the roles and impacts of boundary spanning, both as individuals and as objects, in global project networks. I investigate global project networks in order to assess the emergence, roles and impacts of various boundary spanning capabilities using both quantitative and qualitative research techniques.

Data was collected from three different global project networks: 1) two project networks collaborating face-to-face, one was comprised of Indians and Americans, the other was identical but also contained an Indian national who had studied and worked in the U.S.; 2) an experimental setting comparing multi-cultural, cultural-boundary spanned and mono-cultural project networks; and 3) three days of design review meetings within a project network of U.S. and Indian engineers. Firstly, network analysis and grounded theory are applied in order to observe the emergence and role of cultural boundary spanners. In the second, quantitative statistical analysis is applied in order to observe the impact of cultural boundary spanners on performance. Finally in the third, network analysis and grounded theory is used to observe the role of boundary objects in negotiating knowledge. The findings have significant implications in improving the effectiveness of global project network collaborations.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Thesis Advisors
Taylor, John E.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 3, 2011