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Next decision node (NDN) planning: an ambidextrous planning model

Greg S. Usher (Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 4 September 2019

Issue publication date: 15 February 2021




The purpose of this paper is to address calls from within the existing literature for a planning model that can provide both control and flexibility in dynamic environments.


This research adopts a two-phase grounded theory methodology. Phase I tests a hypothesis through a structured online survey. Phase II tests a new planning model through a focus group and an online survey.


This research finds that client-side project managers misapply rational planning tools when managing construction projects. It also finds that the planning artefacts created in the initial stages of a project are used as a communication tool, rather than a controlling or monitoring tool. These findings provide an opportunity for new planning models, such as the (next decision node) NDN model, to be adopted. These planning tools can create new levels of transparency and accountability within the planning process – as well as provide a model which is more closely aligned with the practitioners “lived experience”.

Research limitations/implications

The NDN model provides a foundation for further research into the micro-mechanisms of organisational ambidexterity in projects and refinement of the NDN model.

Practical implications

This research presents a new planning model which practitioners can adopt when delivering construction projects.


This paper presents a new, ambidextrous planning model grounded on the “lived experience” of client-side project managers.



Usher, G.S. (2021), "Next decision node (NDN) planning: an ambidextrous planning model", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 390-411.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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