Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Makarand Hastak

Committee Chair

Makarand Hastak

Committee Member 1

Dulcy M. Abraham

Committee Member 2

Joseph V. Sinfield

Committee Member 3

Daniel P. Aldrich


Naderpajouh, Nader Ph.D., Purdue University, December 2013. Interactional Analysis of Emergent Risks in Institutionally Diverse Construction Projects. Major Professor: Makarand Hastak.

Construction projects, as complex systems of systems (SOS), increasingly involve institutionally diverse actors that escalate complexity of the projects. Examples of these actors include the export credit agencies, international organizations such as the World Bank, non-governmental organizations (NGO), regulatory actors, transnational organizations, as well as public and community groups. The observed surge in complexity of the projects aim to enhance their robustness in: i) sustaining the increasing demand for service of these projects, and ii) sustaining the contextual fluctuation in terms of social, environmental, and economical dimensions. For example, several financial institutions are engaged in the projects to enhance their economic sustainability, transnational and monitory actors to ensure environmental sustainability, and community groups and NGOs to ensure social sustainability of projects. The increasing complexity, however, results in fragility in the form of cascading failures and poor performance of projects. As a result, construction projects face emergent risks such as risks associated with the interaction of the institutionally diverse actors. The extensive list of projects that have faced emergent risks associated with interactional dynamics includes megaprojects or infrastructures with diverse institutional background such as Stuttgart 21 in Germany, the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil, the Keystone pipeline in North America, the Nabucco Pipeline in Central Asia and Europe, and the Bujagali Dam in Uganda.

To address the emergent risks in construction projects, the concept of emergence in a complex system of systems (SoS) is studied in this dissertation.

In construction projects, emergent dynamics occur at the level of a large-scale system (i.e., project), which is built from components that are systems themselves (i.e., actors). Reflecting this trend within the analysis provides a better understanding of emergent dynamics that arise, for example, from social and political interactions. In particular, this dissertation focuses on the analysis of emergent risks associated with interactions as a coupling of complex systems (i.e., actors) in institutionally diverse projects (i.e., SoS). Major objectives of the research include: i) defining emergent risks based on its interactional elements, ii) quantifying emergent risks based on the simulation of the equilibria of the interaction, and iii) mitigating the emergent risks at the policy and strategy levels. The framework to define emergent risks provides a descriptive account of the emergent risks associated with interactional dynamics. In order to quantify the emergent risk, the associated interaction is modelled through its equilibria. The equilibria are developed at the policy and strategy levels and simulated to obtain the risk profile. Finally, the mitigation strategies and policies are developed based on the framework of the interactional analysis and their effectiveness in mitigation of emergent risks is gauged through simulations. The proposed methodology was applied to cases of social opposition in infrastructure development in developing countries with the focus on hydroelectric projects. The dissertation is closed with suggestions on further applicability of the interactional analysis for different collaborative decision-making contexts.