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Dealing with uncertainty in complex projects: revisiting Klein and Meckling

Tim Brady (CENTRIM, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK)
Andrew Davies (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group, Imperial Business School, Imperial College, London, UK)
Paul Nightingale (SPRU, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 7 September 2012




The purpose of this paper is to review the content and contributions of the article by Klein and Meckling entitled “Application of operations research to development decisions” which was published in the journal Operations Research in May‐June 1958. The paper explores the major concepts and contributions in the article and suggests that these are relevant to today's complex and uncertain development projects.


The paper outlines the context in which the research on which the article is based took place and presents the main ideas in the article which relate to decision making in the procurement and development of complex systems.


The paper demonstrates the utility of the concepts in the original article, shows how they have been used in academic research on project management and innovation and that they are still relevant for both practical project management and project‐based research.

Practical implications

The primary implication is to demonstrate the value of revisiting a classic contribution in project management, in this case, one which remained hidden for a long period, but has recently come to the fore again.


The issues raised by the original article – related to decision making under conditions of uncertainty – remain high on the agenda today and revisiting the article may help provide a better appreciation of how to deal with those issues.



Brady, T., Davies, A. and Nightingale, P. (2012), "Dealing with uncertainty in complex projects: revisiting Klein and Meckling", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 718-736.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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