Cultural dissonance as a risk factor in the construction of megaprojects : the experience of western consultants working in the Gulf Cooperation Council

Walsh, AJ 2021, Cultural dissonance as a risk factor in the construction of megaprojects : the experience of western consultants working in the Gulf Cooperation Council , DProf thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

This research examines the hypothesis that a megaprojects' execution can be negatively impacted if a harmonious relationship and trust are not formed between its delivery partners, and specifically focuses on the relationships between the Arab project Sponsor and their specialist construction advisors during the delivery and execution of GCC megaprojects. This study finds that GCC megaproject advisors are mostly Western consultants, based in Western Europe and North America, and engages with project directors representing the consultancy practices. Observation and experience suggest that differences in commercial, professional, and social-cultural norms can be quite profound, as clashes frequently occur, which impacts all parties, creating challenges for the megaproject's successful execution. Constructivist Grounded Theory techniques are applied to gain insight into Western consultants' social and professional engagement to explore the risks which cultural dissonance may exert over their tenure. The research includes a pilot case study, using a live US $40 billion Qatar based megaproject, together with the perspectives of 34 project directors actively engaged in a wide range of megaprojects throughout the GCC, between 1999 and 2021. Four interwoven exploratory themes are considered to understand cultural influences, social culture, professional culture, acculturation, and intercultural training. Overall, the findings indicate that cultural dissonance is a significant risk factor in GCC megaprojects' execution. The more significant findings include how social differences are less of a risk for project directors, however, illuminates significant risks with professional acculturation due to a higher degree of project politics, bureaucracy, and social conventions. These differences, combined with long working hours and a high-pressure environment, result in cultural dissonance being perceived as a frequent and to some extent an 'unavoidable' part of the execution of GCC megaprojects. In turn, cultural dissonance leads to a high project director churn rate, contributing to losses to all parties, project knowledge leakage and delays. The project directors associate the churn rate with low levels of trust or acculturation issues, highlighting how a failure to appreciate such customs and conventions could be offset by intercultural training. This research demonstrates the significance of cultural dissonance in GCC megaprojects' execution and frames dissonance as a megaproject risk factor. and identifies specific cultural challenges. More importantly, it proposes measures to mitigate these risks. Overall. The study finds that understanding the Arab project Sponsor's culture is fundamental to delivering megaprojects, as cultural dissonance is an underestimated risk factor in GCC megaprojects' execution. Keywords: GCC megaprojects, national culture , risk factors in megaprojects.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Contributors: Walker, PA (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Depositing User: alan Walsh
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2021 12:44
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2021 08:01
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61466

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