Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Amy N. Javernick-Will

Second Advisor

Keith Molenaar

Third Advisor

Paul Chinowsky

Fourth Advisor

Richard Kuchenrither

Abstract

With increasing globalization, multinational organizations in the Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry need to (1) adapt to local environments to reduce risks associated with working internationally and (2) integrate knowledge and strategy with the rest of the organization to remain competitive at the global scale. Being able to simultaneously respond to these potentially conflicting pressures of local adaptation and organizational integration is a challenge and research is needed at the project level in a project-based industry such as the AEC industry. As a result, we identified adaptation and integration criteria through an in-depth literature review and developed a questionnaire and associated qualitative scale to assess projects' levels of adaptation and integration based on the responses to these pressures. 31 project managers from ten organizations responded to the questionnaire for a recently completed international project. The results identified a significant relationship between the amount of relevant US knowledge brought to the local country (technical knowledge, procedures, processes and standards) and project performance. No other significant relationships between adaptation/ integration and project performance were found. We believe that this is due to the questionnaire's focus on responses to adaptation and integration while not capturing environmental pressures such as project type, scope, location, organization type and strategy that impact projects levels of adaptation and integration. When we performed a cross-case comparison between projects that rated high versus low for adaptation and projects that rated high versus low for integration, we found that processes and strategies varied. Higher adaptation projects were more involved in the local community and higher integration projects used richer knowledge exchange methods such as in person discussion. Finally, qualitative analysis of nine interviews with project managers allowed us to better understand the relationship between local adaptation and organizational integration at the project level and showed that a balance between the two was needed and that achieving this balance is a challenge for multinational project based organizations.

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