Thesis (Ph.D)

Social network analysis of knowledge transfer in sustainable office building projects in the UK and Germany


Sustainability is fundamentally transforming construction industries worldwide, resulting in an increased complexity of construction projects with a more divergent set of actors involved. A seamless transfer of knowledge between these actors is required. The gap between the performance of green buildings as designed and as built could be interpreted as an indication that this transfer is not immaculate. Nowadays almost every actor involved in the construction process claims to strive for sustainability. However, the way they perceive and translate it into practice varies widely between different project participants. Therefore a better understanding of how knowledge on sustainable construction is transferred and adopted is needed. A subsequent enhancement of this process could support a certain standard of sustainable building quality. Previous research indicated that social networks influence knowledge transfer (KT), as knowledge is personal and KT takes place through interaction of individuals. Moreover, social network analysis (SNA) provides the means to map the knowledge flow in a project environment and thus enables an understanding of how to enhance it. As a result SNA was used to compare KT practices in construction teams delivering office buildings to sustainable building standards in Germany and the UK. A literature review led to the establishment of a conceptual framework that characterizes the KT process. This was used to inform the research design, data collection and analysis. The research was carried out using a multiple case study approach. The data collection tools were mainly questionnaires with a combination of quantitative, qualitative and social network data. The data was analysed using a combination of descriptive statistics, cross tabulations, content analysis and SNA. The findings were used to revise the conceptual framework. The findings showed a lack of awareness and knowledge of sustainable construction. Moreover, analysis of the data concluded that KT on sustainable construction is influenced by so-called general enhancers/ inhibitors, such as age group and job level, and social network characteristics. Furthermore the results suggest benefits could be derived from employing a sustainability manager as a key contact and to enhance KT on sustainable construction. This research contributes to literature on KT in sustainable construction project teams from a social network perspective. It is the first of its kind comparing KT in construction teams delivering sustainable office buildings in Germany and the UK. The framework is the most important output of this research in terms of both contribution to knowledge and practice and can be used to support the examination of KT in sustainable construction projects. Furthermore this study facilitates the understanding of knowledge contents and types of sustainable construction knowledge.

Attached files


Schröpfer, V

Oxford Brookes departments

School of the Built Environment
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment


Year: 2013

© Schröpfer, V
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