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An exploratory study of accountability in the context of construction project management

Yuen, Christopher Leong Hoe; (1990) An exploratory study of accountability in the context of construction project management. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The research is directed essentially at Project Management (PM) in property development and construction, and serves to explore the application of the Accountability concept within this context. In broad terms, it comprises an examination of PM - in terms of the role, the arrangement, and its participants - from an accountability perspective. For the purposes of the study, accountability is treated as the "answerability for one's responsibility". Drawing extensively from sources outside the field of PM, a conceptual framework of accountability is developed. This allows a shift in attention from single point responsibility towards management accountability of the PM role, and forms the basis for addressing PM through three constituent sub-concepts - "project accountability", "professional accountability", and "legal accountability". Project accountability is tied to the achievement of the project's agreed parameters and is considered more powerful than the idea of project authority. Professionalisation of PM is examined against the proposition of an increasing professional accountability. An assessment of the areas of potential liability in PM completes the examination through an analysis of legal accountability. The empirical portion of the study explores participant perception of accountability relating to the project manager, the PM arrangement, and their own positions. Based on field survey data obtained through a self-administered questionnaire to a sample of 140 project participants from 33 PM arrangements, findings from the research data indicate: (1) a general agreement among participant groups in their overall perception of accountability, (2) that in-house project managers are perceived as more accountable than external project managers, (3) that the level of participants' involvement is positively related to their accountability and to their level of exposure to professional negligence, and (4) a positive correlation between a PM arrangement's accountability and effectiveness, and negative correlations between both these and role ambiguity. In terms of contribution, the study has benefited both the areas of PM and accountability. For PM, the accountability perspective has served to bring to the forefront and to clarify a very pertinent issue relating to management performance - the extent of its answerability. For accountability, the PM arrangement as a temporary organisation has provided a most ideal field environment for its further exploration. The group processes and interactions which typify a PM arrangement create an excellent scenario for studying patterns of accountability in the structural sense, and attitudes towards accountability and its distribution in the behavioural sense. In view of the psychological and experimental nature of much of the work on accountability that has hitherto prevailed, this additional empirical 'realism' which the concept achieves makes a valuable contribution.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An exploratory study of accountability in the context of construction project management
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10121653
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