Branding and governmentality for infrastructure megaprojects: The role of social media

Johan Ninan*, Stewart Clegg, Ashwin Mahalingam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores subtle strategies that megaproject teams develop in practice to manage stakeholders external to the project team. A governmentality approach is used to account for these strategies. A metro rail megaproject in India provides the case for the study. The strategies were identified through a content analysis of 640 project and non-project based Tweets posted by the metro rail organization. We augmented this dataset with the community's response through social media, as well as through semi-structured interviews that captured the project teams' responses. The findings indicate that the megaproject used various strategies: promoting the organization, giving progress updates, appealing to the community, as well as targeting of specific sections of the population. The effect of these attempts at governmentality through branding were observed in community discourses on social media platforms that echoed the strategic discourses projected by the megaproject while interviews enabled us to access the project team's responses. For the project community, the effects included a positive brand image, creating community brand advocates and building support for the project during contentious episodes. For the project team, the effects included job attraction, enhanced job perception as well as the creation of project team brand advocates. The relation between the governmentality instruments and their corresponding effects are theorized in six propositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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