Social network conformity and construction work plan reliability

S. Alireza Abbasian-Hosseini, Min Liu, Simon M. Hsiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In a large construction project delivery is usually handled by numerous subcontractors. Work plan reliability (WPR) of subcontractors is an essential element for improving project performance. Previous research mainly focused on the consequence of the WPR variability of a subcontractor on the following subcontractors in the project task-sequence. Construction industry lacks a good understanding of the social aspect of the subcontractors’ WPR. Plausibly and arguably, construction subcontractors and their interactions/relationships in a project constitute a network, conceptualized as a “social network”. “Social conformity” is one of the various social influence types that results in a change of performance/behavior in order to fit in a group. This research aims to understand how conformity plays a role in the subcontractors’ performance particularly in their WPR. The objective of this paper is to develop an analytical approach to 1) demonstrate the impact of conformity on the WPR of subcontractors, and 2) identify the role of social network in conformity occurrence in a construction project. Two construction projects, each including a general contractor overseeing several subcontractors, were studied. Findings show that deviation from norms decreases as project proceeds. It also shows that the tendency of subcontractors to follow the norms of their neighborhood (local) is higher than their willing to follow the project norm (global). The research contributes to the body of knowledge as it proposes a social network based approach for the first time to explore how the subcontractors’ WPR in a construction project can be under the influence of the conformity phenomenon. Understanding the subcontractors’ manner can be useful for project managers when they need to establish a long-term working relationship with a particular subcontractor, or when they need to know much effort is necessary to spend on improvement initiatives of planning reliability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAutomation in Construction
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformity
  • Construction subcontractors
  • Job site interactions
  • Social influence
  • Social network analysis
  • Work plan reliability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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