The influence of an online collaboration tool on relationships in inter-organisational networks

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Horgan, Ian (2014) The influence of an online collaboration tool on relationships in inter-organisational networks. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis extends the research into the influence of information and communications technology on relationship management by specifically exploring the use and influence of an online collaboration tool (OCT). An OCT is the web-based information infrastructure used for coordinating project activities, and the major market segment for OCTs is the construction sector. Following a literature review, a conceptual framework was developed to analyse the influence of an OCT on dispute resolution in the inter-organisational network of a construction supply chain, to answer the over-arching research question:  How do online collaboration tools influence relationships in inter-organisational networks? The research questions were explored using a case study approach by interviewing members of two construction supply-chains that used an OCT. Nine case studies were conducted, where a case’s unit of analysis is a project manager from the builder or consultants; four and five project managers, respectively, were interviewed from each project. The major contribution is the simplified trust-reputation model that relates attributional trust and issue resolution to corporate reputation. In effect, individuals on the project are very forgiving of supply chain members with regard to issues because of concern for their company’s reputation. Hence, while trust may vary, there was no breakdown in trust because this would affect their company’s reputation as a good partner. Furthermore, although there was a reported variance in trust by the project managers, it did not affect the project’s outcome, but it did affect the ease of doing business. With regard to managerial implications, there is a possibility that the introduction of an OCT may induce a behavioural change in the builders to issue a greater number of requests for information (RFIs) to get issues on the record. Hence, this change needs to be managed upfront at a kick-off meeting at which it should be agreed what constitutes a RFI that needs to be issued using the OCT. This thesis adds value by noting how the dependent relationship between attributional trust and corporate reputation prevents a relationship breakdown.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords project management, Internet, networks, businesses, relationship management, construction supply chain, building industry, trust, socialisation, issue resolution, norms
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