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Academic Journal of Engineering Studies

Critical Review on the Influence of Project Manager to Improve the Performance of the Construction Projects

Mohammed Elhaj Alsoufi Mohammed Ahmed and Leong Sing Wong*

College of Graduate Studies, Malaysia

*Corresponding author: Leong Sing Wong, College of Graduate Studies, Malaysia

Submission: January 06, 2021 Published: April 15, 2021

DOI: 10.31031/AES.2021.02.000528

Volume2 Issue1


The construction industry is often criticized for its poor performance. The traditional procurement system, the structure of the industry and the nature of the construction product all influence current practices and thinking. Project management has organization and operational level, and it mainly focuses on the operational dimension rather than organizational level. In this critical review is done on the role of project management in the organization dimension in terms of Influence, Power, Politics, and Leadership

Keywords: Organizational structure; Implementation; Power; Influence; Leadership


Showed [1-5] that 57% of projects were delivered over budget, 63% of projects were delivered over time, 82% of these projects had reported defects that were not resolved at the time of client occupation. Traditional project management (design, procurement and construction) of a project has a well-defined scope and can be understood as a sequential dependent series of activities. In addition, the project is managed at the construction phase by central authority to ensure activities meet schedule and budget targets as well as control actions at construction stage attempt to return the project to its plan. Accordingly, each year it is estimated that 72.5 million tonnes of construction waste is created in the UK. This cost of the UK’s construction industry is around £193 million each year in landfill tax, excluding disposal charges. Materials and waste are Scotland’s “biggest hitter” when it comes to Scotland’s ecological footprint 3, accounting for 38% of it [4-9]. However, there is a large stumbling block that must be overcome and this, how does the PM gain the authority to plan, monitor and control. Arif & Mehmood [1]; Muller & Turner et al. [10] and Müller et al. [11] mentioned that it is not enough to simply training people in advanced project management techniques and tools and expect them to be able to apply those techniques in the field and gain the rewards as a matter of course. Muller & turner et al. [10] provided that this approach would be unlikely to work. To be effective, the PM must gain a position of authority and respect in order to control the project without interference from others who participants. PM concerns a lack of effectiveness in the organizational structure, it is inevitable with regard to the fact that the PM must be in a position of leadership [12-14]. Arif & Mehmood [1]; Meng & Boyd [8]; Muller & Turner [10] and Müller et al. [11] showed that the leadership role that has to be achieved by project managers is one whereby they are able to gain support for their project and its objectives by way of their interpersonal influence and power. A project manager really requires becoming a politician at certain level if projects are to be delivered successfully. The political role will change between the various phases in the project. However, it will always be present. The PM must be skilled in handling with organizations or individuals who can either facilitate project accomplishment or block and they must be skilled in managing vertical leadership structure (in terms of managing key relationships with senior management and project sponsors. Construction project relies upon a highly specialized and differentiated set of professions and skills. In contrary, there is such a high degree of differentiation and specialization amongst project participants, the Project related to all of them to do what is anticipated of them and in many instances, there are very complicated interdependencies between project contributors. Therefore, there require for project management to allow a project organization to integrate all contributors. While in order to do this, the project manager requires to be in an authority position in the project hierarchy.

Organizational structures for constructions project

García et al. [5]; Hsu et al. [6]; Montequin et al. [8]; Muller & Turner [12] and Skipper & Bell [13] showed that classical organizational theory provides a few set approaches [14]. Firstly, functional organization or vertical span for control oriented. Secondly, other structure that should be considered are matrix structure or flat structure as well as project structures. There are several problems related to each one of these organization as follows. Yang [15] showed that functional organization Prevents effective communication and integration which is essential for effective PM while Matrix organization ideal PM structure, but span of control can become impossibly large. Conventional procurement structures and traditional culture of the construction industry bring their own organizational designs and impose them on the project meaning that the PM may end up with little actual direct influence on the organizational structure that is in fact used. Therefore, the problem that PM faces, in organizational design, concerns the source of their authority. García et al. [5] showed that the level of authority afforded to the PM will play a major role in defining the scope of their leadership, authority and responsibility must be corresponded. Therefore, the informal authority that they can use to motivate and build a team that can overcome deficiencies in organizational design caused by procurement or industry overcome or industry culture. Figure 1 shows the the role of PM in conventional procurement organizational structure.

Figure 1: The role of PM in conventional procurement organizational structure.

Project manager influence in construction industry

García et al. [5]; Muller & Turner [10] and Müller et al. [11] justified that PM must use leadership and political skill in order to develop an effective power base, perhaps largely dependent on informal authority (or power), to instruct and direct the resources needed to get the project done. Leadership and political skill (relational or influential skill) are critical so that the level of informal authority and seniority afforded to the PM can be elevated to the status necessary to override cultural and procurement problems so the project can be delivered successfully. García et al. [5] showed that project objectives in term of time, cost and quality performances are significantly influenced by the quality of PM leadership. Arif et al. [1] stated that leadership include giving meaning and purpose to work, winning and empowering followers, inspiring and infusing organizations with a value and ideology, motivating people both within and outside the project organization to accept a project’s goals and to work enthusiastically towards the achievement of these goals. Muller & turner [10] stated that leadership qualities are going to be determined, at least in part, by the personality traits, charisma and enthusiasm of those in the position of a leader. Leader should have a credible and legitimate source of influence as well as have highly developed relational skills in order to be an effective leader. Arif & Mehmood [1] and Johnson [7] clarified that the source of leadership influence as follows formal Authority (Legitimate Power), reward Power, punishment Power (coercive Power), expert power and referent Power. Johnson [7]; Montequin et al. [8] and Zulch et al. [16] presented that there are three main groups of project contributors need to be led within the project environment are the visible team, the invisible team and the stakeholder team. PM must lead at six dimension as follows upwards, outwards, forwards, backwards, downwards as well as inwards. From the visible, invisible, stakeholder teams and while managing most of the six dimensions, the PM will encounter such as allies, opponents and adversaries. The PM must adopt a different political approach to each type of participant and must recognize that participants may change at different points in the project life cycle. The aim is always to meet the concerns and needs of the participant while simultaneously securing the needs of the project. The PM needs to be highly skilled and very political about doing this and must recognize that a very high degree of flexibility will be required. The objective of this paper is to give an overview on influence of project manager to achieve the project objectives (Table 1).

Table 1:Quantities of waste for several countries in Europe.

Leadership Style for Construction Projects

Hsu et al. [6]; Muller & Turner [10] and Müller et al. [11] showed that suggests that there are two main leadership styles that are evident within the project management discipline. The first relies heavily on the use of formal authority, reward power and punishment. The second is more concerned with the use of expert and referent power. It is difficult to identify which style is prominent or even most desirable in the case of construction sector. Müller et al. [11] clarified that few project managers are afforded the extent of formal authority that would enable them to be fully effective in the use of that authority or indeed in the realm of reward or punishment for which the formal authority is prerequisite. This means that the use of both expert and referent power is more likely to be the norm. However, it is seen that project managers do not work in an effective way. This tends to suggest that project managers cannot rely on the use of both expert and referent power alone and do indeed need a degree of formal authority, reward power and punishment power to progress toward the effective control of projects. Table 2 shows the group of researchers work in various sources of leadership style.

Table 2:The leadership styles based on the finding of published works.

Political strategies for managing project participants in construction industry

Thinking of Politics in connection with PM, the focus is not on Government or political affiliation or belief, or on corruption. But rather on how leaders must seek to influence individuals and organizations and win support for their goals. Projects are constantly changing. Boerner et al [6]; Garcia et al. [5]; Hsu et al. [6] and Müller et al. [11] and focused that the PM has a role to play in progressing a project through all of the various project life cycle stages. During those various phases of the project life cycle the project manager will encounter many different organizations who may break the project. Several parties to the project will be continuous throughout the project, for example the Client and Architect. Others will have a more transitory role, for example, suppliers and planners. The project managers need to recognize that their role as politician will change during the different levels of the project life cycle and that the different groups will need various political management. Arif & Mehmood [1] showed that main issue concern with the skills and techniques that the PM must draw upon to influence, motivate, Persuade, manipulate, drive and lead. Arif & Mehmood [1] has identified that project participants may be categorized into five main groups, depending upon their role in the project and dependent upon their view as to its content, scope, and success factors. The categories that can be used to describe the parties involved in projects are as follows allies, opponents, bedfellows, fencesitters and adversaries. Table 2 shows the research works by various researchers to identify the role of PM for types of project participant that the PM must pay attention to. The aim of the project manager as a leader, who draws on authority that is afforded mostly by informal means, is to build an Integrated Project Team (IPT). Garcia & Jiménez [6]; Zulch [16], reasoned that the characteristics of an integrated project team are as follows. Firstly, IPT is a single team focused on a common set of goals and objectives for the benefit of all concerned. IPT is so seamless that it appears to operate as if it were a company in its own right. IPT has no apparent boundaries and provides all participants the same opportunities to contribute and all skills can be used to maximum effect (Table 3).

Table 3:The role of PM according to the people contributions in projects.

Managing upwards (Clients and Stakeholders)

Much of the above is concentrated on the dealing of the project managers with the participants in the horizontal project structure (Horizontal leaders) such as contractors and consultants. Arif & Mehmood [1] showed the project manager must think of such a peer group. which is crucial element in securing project success, however, of equal importance is the task of managing clients and stakeholders’ relationships (vertical leadership). There are four essential concepts that PM’s need to be aware of in managing sponsors, senior managers and other stakeholders such as visibility, priority, accessibility and credibility [1].


The political management of project contributors is essential for success and the aim is always to secure support for the project and for its objectives. PM must identify the range and extent of the sources of influence available to them so that they can secure an appropriate leadership position to drive the project and to direct its resources effectively. In addition, PM must recognize that the project participants need to be politically managed (or manipulated) towards achieving the desired outcomes and those different approaches are needed dependent on how the contributor sees the project. Eventually, the PM must politically manage the employer (client), the stakeholders and the external environment of the project, as well as their project peers (vertical leaders) if the propensity for success is to be increased.


The authors would like to recognize the financial support from UNITEN Internal Grant, UNIIG 2017 (Project number: 10289176/B/9/2017/17).


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© 2021 Leong Sing Wong. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.