IIT M study finds ‘Freelance Expatriates’ playing critical role in projects implementation in India | Kalvimalar - News

IIT M study finds ‘Freelance Expatriates’ playing critical role in projects implementation in India- 18-Mar-2023

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Chennai: An Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) study has found that freelance expatriates hired by Indian Public Sector clients play a critical role in the smooth execution of ‘vanguard’ or ‘first of their kind’ infrastructure projects such as highways, urban rail systems, and airports, among others. 

Developing nations the world over are in a rush to catch up with the modern world, and India is no different. 

Ambitious projects for the construction of highways, urban rail systems, and airports are common in the country.

In this in-depth analysis, the researcher studied the challenges faced during initial stages of infrastructure vanguards in India and how different views were negotiated to create a set of processes that can lead to the smooth management of these projects. 

A key finding of the paper was that most of these conflicts were resolved by a hitherto unheralded group of project participants - freelance expatriates hired by the Indian client. This research paper offers a critical insight into how megaprojects can be better managed. 

Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, analysed empirical data from two metro rail megaprojects in India that were part of the Delhi Metro to conceptualize impasses as arising due to contradictions in institutionalized logics relating to work practices used by various organizations on such projects. 

The study showed that contradictory logics in carrying out work can lead to ’horizontal’ or process-based institutional voids, and ’vertical’ or role/hierarchy-based institutional voids that must be successfully navigated 

to ensure project progress. 

The findings of this study were published in the reputed, peer-reviewed International Journal of Project Management ( Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam was the author of the research paper. 

In the case of re-architecting transaction spaces, freelance expatriates changed the way information flowed – approval processes for payments for instance.  

In the case of reinforcing hierarchy, the expatriates would push to speed up the construction process by escalating matters to up the chain of command until it reached progress-focused decision makers.

In other cases, the expatriates would play the role of a mediator by presenting more information and creating a dialogue between opposing sides. Their credibility due to their organizational affiliation with the client and their professional affiliation with other expatriates working with the contractor helped them play the role of a mediator on these projects.


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