Exploring the Effects of Building Information Modeling on Project-based Organisations: A Social Network Approach

Department: Real Estate and Construction
Research Centre: iLab
Active Dates: January 2015 - December 2017

Principal Investigator: Wilson W.S. LU
Funding body: GRF


Building information modeling (BIM) has emerged as probably the biggest buzzword in the construction industry in recent years. However, although extensive BIM research has been undertaken to date, little has been done to understand how BIM actually affects project teams (also termed as Project-Based Organisations [PBOs] in literature). The proposed study aims to investigate how BIM, as a facilitating technology, will affect PBOs, with a view to diagnosing its efficacy in delivering project value to society. The study will take the theoretical stance that PBOs are social networks (SNs). It is postulated that the use of BIM will change the PBO as well as its associated SN by facilitating communication and encouraging collaboration, thereby improving project performance. The proposed aims will be achieved by conducting case studies with the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HKHA). The project’s findings will enrich the research literature about the effects of facilitating technologies on PBOs. They will also have significant practical value by helping stakeholders in a PBO to understand how different BIM implementation modes affect the functioning of PBO. In the long run, the research will enable more appropriate BIM adoption and implementation in the construction industry.


  1. To map the project-based organisations (PBOs) into social networks by introducing a novel social network analysis (SNA) approach;
  2. To ascertain the empirical impacts of building information modeling (BIM) on the social networks.


The project is still undergoing. The three hypotheses have been tested using the housing projects undertaken by the HKHA. The sample covers 27 large housing estates comprising 103 projects where BIM has been implemented under different modes, and 120 projects without BIM elements involved. Changes of BIM on PBOs, for the first time, are both measured quantitatively and monitored graphically. By conducting the research work of this project, the principle investigator, Dr. Wilson Lu has received two “Certificates of Appreciation” from the HKHA for the R&D works on “Cost Benefit Analysis on the use of BIM for construction projects” and “Logistic management with the adoption of RFID and BIM”. These show the recognition by one of the most important public organisations in Hong Kong.


Selected peer-reviewed journal papers

  • Wang, H.D., Lu, W.S., Soderland, J., and Chen, K. (2016). The interplay between formal and informal networks in project-based organizations. International Journal of Project Management, under review.
  • Liang, C., Lu, W.S., Rowlinson, S., and Zhang, X.L. (2016). Development of a multifunctional BIM maturity model. ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Forthcoming.
  • Lu, W., Fung, A., Peng, Y., Liang, C., and Rowlinson, S. (2015). Demystifying Construction Project Time–Effort Distribution Curves: BIM and Non-BIM Comparison. Journal of Management in Engineering, 31(6), 04015010.
  • Lu, W., Fung, A., Peng, Y., Liang, C., and Rowlinson, S. (2014). Cost-benefit analysis of Building Information Modeling implementation in building projects through demystification of time-effort distribution curves. Building and Environment, 82, 317-327.

Selected international conference papers

  • Zheng, L.Z., Lu, W.S., Chen, K., and Chau, K.W. (2016). Moral Hazard in Inter-Firm Cooperation: A Study of Building Information Modelling Implementation. In Proceedings of the Academy of Management 2016 Annual Meeting, 5-9th Aug 2016, in Anaheim, CA.
  • Wang H.D., Lu W.S., and Sunderland, J. (2016). The Interplay Between Formal And Informal Networks in Construction Projects. In Proceedings of the CIB World Building Congress WBC16, 30 May-3 Jun 2016, Tampere, Finland.


Enlarge Photo: Figure 1: A graphic summary of cost-benefit analysis of BIM implementation in AEC processesEnlarge Photo: Figure 2: The graphical presentation of the formal and informal network of Case BetaEnlarge Photo: Figure 3: Social networks and analyses of their properties