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Article

Mogens Frank Mikkelsen, John Venable and Kirsi Aaltonen

Project complexity is becoming increasingly challenging for project managers. Much valuable research has been done on the concept of project complexity. The research…

Abstract

Purpose

Project complexity is becoming increasingly challenging for project managers. Much valuable research has been done on the concept of project complexity. The research reported in this paper aims to provide a new means (the “Complexity Navigation Window”) and guiding principles for the navigation of project complexity in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper applied action design research (a methodology for design science research) to design and evaluate the Complexity Navigation Window (CNW), which will serve as a representation of project complexity as a key component of the user interface for a decision support system (DSS) for managing project complexity.

Findings

Formative evaluations of the CNW by 16 project management practitioners indicated that the artefact is relevant, comprehensible and heading in a promising direction to guide decision-making. The evaluation also highlighted project managers' difficulty in using the (conceptual) representation by itself to assess a project's current situation accurately, which in turn limits their ability to understand a project's current complexity and decide an appropriate course of strategy. A conceptual framework by itself is insufficient. This finding motivates further research to develop and evaluate a DSS that would partially automate the assessment process (by surveying stakeholders and automatically assessing and representing project complexity according to the CNW), which should aid in increasing the accuracy (and timeliness) of project complexity assessments and contribute to appropriate strategy formulation and timely revision.

Practical implications

The formative evaluation of the CNW indicates relevance for practitioners and the further features of the DSS may still yield even higher perceived utility from the full artefact.

Originality/value

The paper provides improved understanding of practitioners' perceptions of project complexity and ability to assess it for a given project. The paper describes the design of a new visualisation for navigating and managing complexity. The paper further presents four strategies for managing project complexity. Finally, the paper also provides a methodological discussion on the potential of ADR in advancing project management research.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Book part

Long D. Nguyen, Long Le-Hoai, Dai Q. Tran, Chau N. Dang and Chau V. Nguyen

Managing complex construction projects is a challenging task because it involves multiple factors and decision-making processes. A systematic evaluation of these complex…

Abstract

Managing complex construction projects is a challenging task because it involves multiple factors and decision-making processes. A systematic evaluation of these complex factors is imperative for achieving project success. As most of these factors are qualitative or intangible in nature, decision makers often rely on subjective judgements when comparing and evaluating them. The hybrid techniques that integrate fuzzy set theory and the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) are able to deal with such problems. This chapter discusses various hybrid techniques of the fuzzy AHP and presents an application of these techniques to the evaluation of transportation project complexity, which is essential for prioritising resource allocation and assessing project performance. Project complexity can be quantified and visualised effectively with the application of the fuzzy AHP. This chapter enhances the understanding of construction project complexity and fuzzy hybrid computing in construction engineering and management. Future research should address the calibration of fuzzy membership functions in pairwise comparisons for each individual decision maker and develop computational tools for solving optimisation problems in the constrained fuzzy AHP. In the area of construction project complexity, future research should investigate how scarce resources are allocated to better manage complex projects and how appropriate resource allocation improves their performance.

Details

Fuzzy Hybrid Computing in Construction Engineering and Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-868-2

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Article

Mogens Frank Mikkelsen

Project complexity has been comprehensively investigated over the last two decades, resulting in many descriptive frameworks and models. The common layout is a…

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.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

Ahsen Maqsoom, Muhammad Hamad, Hassan Ashraf, Muhammad Jamaluddin Thaheem and Muhammad Umer

Despite the efforts of project managers and the widespread use of project management methodologies, most of the projects remain unfulfilling in terms of delivering…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the efforts of project managers and the widespread use of project management methodologies, most of the projects remain unfulfilling in terms of delivering targeted performance. This for most part can be attributed to the inability of an organization to implement control mechanisms and ineffective management of complexity risk. Keeping in view the aforementioned problem, the objective of this study is to investigate the association between control modes and project performance. Moreover, this study also examines the moderating role of complexity risk on the association among various control modes and project performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected from 171 construction projects through a postal questionnaire survey. Partial least squares structural equation modeling was utilized for testing the hypothesized relationships of the research model.

Findings

This study found significant positive relation between formal and informal control mechanisms and project performance. It is found that complexity risk significantly moderates the relationship between control modes and project performance. The results indicate that complexity risk positively moderates the relationship between outcome control and clan control with project performance. Furthermore, complexity risks negatively moderates the relationship between behavior control and project performance. However, the association between self-control and project performance is found insignificant in the presence of complexity risk.

Originality/value

This study is the first attempt to study the relationship of control mechanisms, complexity risk and project performance in the construction industry.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 27 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

Li Ma and Hongwei Fu

Understanding the impact of project complexity on the mega construction project success will help improve the efficiency of project management. However, the influencing…

Abstract

Purpose

Understanding the impact of project complexity on the mega construction project success will help improve the efficiency of project management. However, the influencing mechanism of project complexity on project success has not been clearly depicted. This paper aims to divide project complexity and project success into five dimensions, trying to explore the impact of different complexity combinations on mega construction project success.

Design/methodology/approach

This study applies the qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) method to find out the impact of the combinations of different project complexities on the every dimension of mega construction project success. First, 21 cases were interviewed and scored in five categories of project complexities and five aspects of project success. Second, with the QCA program, the combinations of different project complexities influencing every aspect of mega construction project success was obtained.

Findings

This research found that high organizational complexity or a combination of high environmental complexity and goal complexity can lead to serious schedule delays of mega construction projects, high technological complexity and goal complexity are important reasons for cost overrun, high technological complexity or a combination of high environmental complexity and low organizational complexity usually lead to low quality of mega construction projects, high goal complexity and cultural complexity are important factors affecting the key stakeholders' satisfaction and high technological complexity and environmental complexity are the reasons for the poor sustainability of mega construction projects.

Originality/value

This study clearly reveals the influencing mechanism of project complexity on mega construction project success, which can help the project managers to understand and assess the complexity of mega construction projects and accurately predict their negative impacts on the mega construction projects.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 27 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

Afshin Jalali Sohi, Marian Bosch-Rekveldt and Marcel Hertogh

The purpose of this paper is to study the effect of project management flexibility in early project phases on end-project performance including its mediating role on the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the effect of project management flexibility in early project phases on end-project performance including its mediating role on the effect of complexity over project performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Out of 13 hypotheses, 6 hypotheses regarding the relationships between areas of flexibility and project performance, 1 regarding the effect of complexity on performance and 6 other hypotheses regarding the mediating effect of six areas of flexibility were formulated. Statistical analysis was performed using partial least squares–structural equation modeling on data gathered from 111 surveys.

Findings

Research results revealed that flexibility of “how-attitude” and “how-organization” has positive significant effects on project performance. “How-attitude” contributes to the flexibility of project management processes by having an “open attitude,” “wide approach” and “proactive attitude” while “how-organization” put the emphasis of flexibility on “facilitate planning,” “outer organization” and “inner organization.” Moreover, this research confirmed that complexity has a negative effect on project performance. Among the six areas of flexibility, flexibility of “how-organization” mediates the effect of complexity on project performance.

Originality/value

The increased project complexity requires some degree of flexibility in project management to deal with project dynamics. However, whether such flexibility in early project phases has an effect on end-project performance has not been empirically investigated. This research contributes to filling the gap in literature about the relationship between project management flexibility and project performance. Such effect was investigated by studying the direct effect of flexibility on project performance and the mediating role of flexibility on the negative effect of project complexity on project performance.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

Joana Geraldi, Harvey Maylor and Terry Williams

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to operations management (OM) practice contingency research by describing the complexity of projects. Complexity is recognised…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to operations management (OM) practice contingency research by describing the complexity of projects. Complexity is recognised as a key independent (contingent) variable that impacts on many subsequent decisions in the practice of managing projects.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a systematic review of relevant literature and synthesises an integrated framework for assessing the complexities of managing projects.

Findings

This framework comprises five dimensions of complexity – structural, uncertainty, dynamics, pace and socio‐political complexity. These five dimensions present individuals and organisations with choices about how they respond to each type of complexity, in terms of business case, strategic choice, process choice, managerial capacity and competencies.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is to provide a clarification to the epistemology of complexity, to demonstrate complexity as a lived experience for project managers, and offer a common language for both practitioners and future empirical studies considering the individual or organisational response to project complexities. The work also demonstrates an application of systematic review in OM research.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 31 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article

Neil Turner, James Aitken and Cecil Bozarth

The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of supply chain complexity and extend this with literature developed within the project domain. The authors use the lens…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of supply chain complexity and extend this with literature developed within the project domain. The authors use the lens of ambidexterity (the ability both to exploit and explore) to analyse responses to complexity, since this enables the authors to understand the application of known solutions in conjunction with innovative ones to resolve difficulties. This research also seeks to investigate how managers respond to supply chain complexities that can either be operationally deleterious or strategically beneficial.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop a descriptive framework based on the project management (PM) literature to understand response options to complexity, and then use interviews with supply chain managers in six organisations to examine the utility of this framework in practice. The authors ask the research question “How do managers in supply chains respond to complexities”?

Findings

The case study data show first that managers faced with structural, socio-political, or emergent supply chain complexities use a wide range of responses. Second, over a third of the instances of complexity coded were actually accommodated, rather than reduced, by the study firms, suggesting that adapting to supply chain complexity in certain instances may be strategically appropriate. Third, the lens of ambidexterity allows a more explicit assessment of whether existing PM solutions can be considered or if novel methods are required to address supply chain complexities.

Practical implications

The descriptive framework can aid managers in conceptualising and addressing supply chain complexity. Through exploiting current knowledge, managers can lessen the impact of complexity while exploring other innovative approaches to solve new problems and challenges that evolve from complexity growth driven by business strategy.

Originality/value

This study addresses a gap in the literature through the development of a framework which provides a structure on ways to address supply chain complexity. The authors evaluate an existing project complexity concept and demonstrate that it is both applicable and valuable in non-project, ongoing operations. The authors then extend it using the lens of ambidexterity, and develop a framework that can support practitioners in analysing and addressing both strategically necessary supply complexities, together with unwanted, negative complexities within the organisation and across the supply chain.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article

Syed Azim, Andy Gale, Therese Lawlor‐Wright, Richard Kirkham, Ali Khan and Mehmood Alam

The purpose of this paper is to facilitate further understanding of project complexity by highlighting the factors contributing to project complexity as reported by the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to facilitate further understanding of project complexity by highlighting the factors contributing to project complexity as reported by the practitioners facing the “actuality” of projects.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research approach was undertaken by conducting semi‐structured interviews with the primary focus on the aerospace industry. Participants are involved in a variety of project settings, exhibiting different types and levels of complexity.

Findings

Analysis of responses highlights “people” issues as the main factor contributing to project complexity and the importance of soft skills in managing complex projects.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on a limited number of respondents from the aerospace sector. This will be further refined and improved upon by compiling views of additional practitioners involved in multiple aerospace projects.

Practical implications

The main research conclusions are that “hard” project management skills help to organise, plan and manage, and track changes during the course of the project. However, understanding of project complexity and its contributing factors helps practitioners to understand the dynamic, social and complex contexts of projects, thus highlighting the importance of “soft” skills.

Originality/value

This paper proposes the “project complexity triangle – people, product and process”, highlighting their importance as the three major areas contributing to project complexity.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

E.G. Ochieng, A.D.F. Price, X. Ruan, C.O. Egbu and D. Moore

The purpose of this paper is to examine challenges faced by senior construction managers in managing cross‐cultural complexity and uncertainty. The rationale was to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine challenges faced by senior construction managers in managing cross‐cultural complexity and uncertainty. The rationale was to identify the key strategies that are considered essential for managing cross‐cultural complexity and uncertainty.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews with 20 senior construction managers, ten in Kenya and ten in the UK, were recorded, transcribed and entered into the qualitative research software NVivo. Validity and reliability were achieved by first assessing the plausibility in terms of already existing knowledge on some of the cultural issues raised by participants. The findings were presented to the participants through workshops and group discussions.

Findings

The emerging key issues suggested that project leaders need to learn how to control their own characteristics and to use them selectively. An effective multicultural construction project team should focus on team output and attributes that characterise a multicultural team as a social entity.

Practical implications

Findings indicate that the role of construction project managers has significantly changed over the past two decades. In order to deal with cross‐cultural uncertainty, project leaders must have superior multicultural and interpersonal skills when managing global multicultural heavy engineering projects.

Originality/value

The research shows that leaders of global construction project teams need a good understanding of their culture, environment and the value of their individual contributions.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

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