The paper will help project managers better understand behaviour in project organisations and why some project actors are more popular than others.

Individual popularity has been found to have a positive impact on leadership behaviour, individual performance, group performance and job satisfaction. However, there remains a limited understanding of the concept of individual popularity and its antecedents in construction projects. In this research study, we propose that the position which an individual occupies in the project social network will influence his/her popularity. Although different types of networks exist in project environments, e.g. informal friendship networks, we focus on project-related information-exchange networks to capture individuals’ recurrent patterns of work-related communication. Our goal was to consider individuals’ structural positions within the project function-related communication networks, rather than the more casual and less work-significant informal friendship networks.

A single case-study approach was adopted, examining a road-construction project in Baoshan City in China. Data collection involved the completion of a questionnaire by project participants, identifying their communication with, and their perception of, the popularity of other project actors. Analysis was based upon actor centrality (Degree, Betweenness, and Closeness) within the communication and popularity networks. The findings supported the proposition and showed that communication network centrality is positively associated with popularity, in that individuals who are more central in the project communication network also assumed central positions in the popularity network. The degree of centrality in the project communication network was found to be particularly salient in predicting popularity, underlying the social dominance of the “prominent disseminators” who control a large amount of information resources.

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