Power in News Media: Framing Strategies and Effects in Infrastructure Projects

Johan Ninan, Ashwin Mahalingam, Stewart Clegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


During the construction and operation phases, infrastructure projects face social unrest, such as community protests, boycotting of services as well as negative press reports of these events and other aspects of the project. There is a need to consider the concerns and moral issues of the community throughout the lifecycle and not just at the inception phase. From an organizational power perspective, we use frame analysis as a suitable lens to understand how projects shape community perceptions to try and construct sustainable legitimacy. The research reports on a case study of a metro rail project in India. 166 daily news articles, 446 user comments and 30 semi-structured interviews with the project team were analysed. We observed framing strategies used in practice, such as need framing, pride framing, community-centric framing and blame framing. These framing strategies observed in the project community had impacts labeled as the solution frame, the trend-setter frame, the important frame and the own-up frame. The relationship between the framing strategies and their effects are theorized through four propositions. We argue that through these framing strategies some issues were strategically hidden while some were strategically promoted, thereby influencing the perception of the project. An improved perception of the project can reduce resistance and conflicts during the construction and operation of the project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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