A model of contractual project-based work: Personal social network connectivity, ICT use, and self-monitoring

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Information Transfer


Kevin Crowston


Project-based work, Social network, Connectivity, Self-monitoring, Contract work, Virtual work

Subject Categories

Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


"Organizations of one" are increasingly common in the modern workplace. How do individuals conduct work when they do not have access to the resources of conventional organizations? Research on the work of residential real estate agents suggests that the agents rely on their personal social networks to support their work. Research also suggests that information and communication technologies play an important role in supporting the use of social network ties in conducting work. The present research fills a gap in existing social network research by focusing on how accessing social networks affects the performance of contractual project-based workers. Residential real estate agents are studied as exemplars of contractual project-based workers. This study examines the personal social network connections of residential real estate agents in the form of ties to acquaintances or friends of friends (weak ties), and ties to coworkers with whom the agent shares mutual dependencies in the execution of work-related tasks (strong ties) These two types of ties are hypothesized as predictors of performance. Two individual characteristics were selected as predictors of individual social network use: (1) information and communication technology (ICT) use, and (2) self-monitoring.

A national survey was mailed to 9000 members of the National Association of Realtors. Factor analysis and structural equation modeling was used to analyze results. Strong tie personal social network connectivity predicted performance suggesting that strong tie personal social networks are foundational in the work of the contractual project-based worker. Weak ties were hypothesized to support the residential real estate agent in prospecting for new buyers and sellers of homes. Surprisingly, weak ties were not found to be significant predictors of performance. Website use was a predictor of strong tie personal social network connectivity and performance suggesting the importance of website use in the work of residential real estate agents. Self-monitoring, a personality variable was a predictor of strong and weak ties as well as of performance.


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