Harnessing knowledge of building end-users: identifying knowledge brokers that matter

Zehra Waheed*, Stephen Olubodunwa Ogunlana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to investigate projects as social exchange networks, focussing on identifying knowledge brokers within the project network where they are key holders and disseminators of end-user needs. The purpose is to augment current theory through a practice lens so that building end-user requirements can be better incorporated in evolving project ecosystems.

Design/methodology/approach: An interpretive, an inductive case study is used to map knowledge brokers during a complex construction and co-location project. During the wider study, a variety of methods including archival data, interviews and questionnaires along with social network analysis (SNA) were used. The mixed methodology used has been pivotal in the triangulation of data from various sources. However, the output of SNA presented in this paper relies mostly on interviews and questionnaires administered to the project’s core network. Network relationships were mapped with knowledge of user requirements, being the key determinant of the binary relationships between actors.

Findings: The research found certain roles to be central knowledge brokers of knowledge related to end-user processes, including real estate and strategic planning, building operations and management, human and environmental factors, planning and project management and facility and service delivery. The knowledge of the above roles, albeit in a contextually situated case study, augments current understanding of which roles to tap on during project execution for better representation of end-user needs.

Practical implications: The research site is representative of a complex network of construction project stakeholders, including several categories of end-users and their representatives. The study demonstrates the use of the project-as-practice approach, whereby project theory is seen to emerge directly from practice. This has impact on practice as emergent theory about knowledge transfer and knowledge brokerage is essentially practice-led and hence more useful and relate-able to practitioners.

Originality/value: Research presented here is novel in terms of its approach towards understanding end-user needs such as need for privacy, control, attachment and interaction during construction projects. This is done through the identification of relevant knowledge brokers. The study uses SNA as an analytical tool to map knowledge transfers through the project’s network. End-user requirements are usually captured in the front-end of projects as specifications and deliverables, as new challenges emerge during execution, changes are required to the project’s direction and outcomes. It is therefore imperative that end-user needs are re-identified through knowledge brokers holding key knowledge. This allows project managers to prepare appropriate responses to changing project ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-35
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Corporate Real Estate
Issue number1
Early online date21 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Buildings
  • End-user needs
  • Knowledge brokers
  • Networks
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Finance


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