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Perceived project complexity: a survey among practitioners of project management

Mogens Frank Mikkelsen (IT University of Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 31 July 2020

Issue publication date: 6 April 2021

394

Abstract

Purpose

Project complexity has been comprehensively investigated over the last two decades, resulting in many descriptive frameworks and models. The common layout is a multidimensional construct. While the perception of the complexity of projects is essential for a managerial approach, only scant research has been conducted into how practitioners perceive project complexity. The purpose of the paper is to fill this gap.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a quantitative study based on a large survey among managers of projects with more than 1,000 participants. The questionnaire is designed based on a review of research literature on project complexity.

Findings

The findings indicate that practitioners' mental models are concentrated on only a few dimensions of the many found in descriptive models. Further, the findings indicate that the mental models are much influenced by the project role of the perceiver and less so by the type of project and sector.

Originality/value

This paper discusses the differentiation of concepts of perceived project complexity and provides a framework for a survey of the topic. The contribution of the paper is an increased understanding of practitioners' perceptions of project complexity as a concept very different from the descriptive frameworks that have been the focal point for research in project complexity thus far. The project complexity might be in the eye of the beholder; however, the findings indicate that the eyes are very much influenced by the project role of the beholder.

Keywords

Citation

Mikkelsen, M.F. (2021), "Perceived project complexity: a survey among practitioners of project management", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 680-698. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-03-2020-0095

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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