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Prioritizing complexity using fuzzy DANP: case study of international development projects

Soo Yong Kim (Department of Civil Engineering, Pukyong National University, Busan, Republic of Korea)
Minh V. Nguyen (Department of Construction Management, Graduate School, Pukyong National University, Busan, Republic of Korea)
Tuyen T.N. Dao (Thanh Son Tinh Company Limited, Long Khanh City, Vietnam)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 10 August 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2021




This paper aims to propose a comprehensive framework for prioritizing complexity criteria. The framework was validated by applying in infrastructure international development (ID) project as a case study.


A literature review highlighted the limitations of existing complexity prioritization methods. Then, a combination of the fuzzy decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory (DEMATEL) and fuzzy analytic network process (ANP) was employed as a foundation to develop a three-stage complexity prioritization framework. Focus group discussion and questionnaire surveys were used to practically test the framework in the infrastructure ID projects.


The three-stage complexity prioritization framework was validated to be reliable and feasible. The findings showed ability of consultants, scope uncertainties, site compensation and clearance, communication between stakeholders, administrative procedure and project duration were the most significant complexity criteria of ID projects in the Vietnamese context.

Practical implications

The framework is a robust tool that enables the researchers to grasp the interaction of complexity criteria for complexity prioritization. Later studies can apply the proposed framework, with some minor revisions, to assess the interaction of criteria in other research topics in, and beyond, project complexity. Results of the case study suggest project stakeholders focusing on complex interactions among criteria to reduce project complexity.


This study contributes to the body of knowledge by providing a comprehensive complexity prioritization framework that grasps the interrelationship of complexity criteria. For stakeholders of ID projects, the findings provide insightful perspectives to understand complexity, which can help to enhance project performance.



This work was supported by a Research Grant of Pukyong National University (2019). The authors would like to appreciate Mrs. Tran Thu Tra, Mrs. Tran Thi Viet Nga, and Mr. Truong Cong Viet Anh for their helping during data collection. The authors also appreciate all anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


Kim, S.Y., Nguyen, M.V. and Dao, T.T.N. (2021), "Prioritizing complexity using fuzzy DANP: case study of international development projects", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 1114-1133.



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