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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2018

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
Publication date: 23 August 2011

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
Publication date: 22 July 2021

Tillmann Boehme, James Aitken, Neil Turner and Robert Handfield

The sudden arrival of Covid-19 severely disrupted the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Australia. This paper aims to examine the development of a…

Abstract

Purpose

The sudden arrival of Covid-19 severely disrupted the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Australia. This paper aims to examine the development of a geographical cluster, which, through the application of additive manufacturing (AM), responded to the PPE supply crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

This longitudinal case study focuses on an AM cluster, which was developed to supply PPE in a responsive and flexible manner from 2019/2020. The study gathered data over three stages of cluster evolution: pre, during and post-peak Covid-19.

Findings

The type and nature of exchanges between organizations involved in the cluster established important insights into success factors for cluster creation and development. Using an established complexity framework, this study identifies the characteristics of establishing a cluster. The importance of cluster alignment created initially by a common PPE supply goal led to an emerging commercial and relational imperative to address the longer-term configuration after the disruption.

Practical implications

Clusters can be a viable option for a technology-driven sector when there is a “buzz” that drives and rapidly diffuses knowledge to support cluster formation. This research identifies the structural, socio-political and emergent dimensions, which need to be considered by stakeholders when aiming at improving competitiveness using clusters.

Originality/value

Covid-19 has rapidly and unexpectedly disrupted the supply chain for many industries. Responding to challenges, businesses will investigate different pathways to improve the overall resilience including on-/near-shoring. The results provide insights into how clusters are formed, grow and develop and the differentiating factors that result in successful impacts of clusters on local economies.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Harvey Maylor and Neil Turner

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of complexity and its management from an OM perspective, building on and extending the systematic…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of complexity and its management from an OM perspective, building on and extending the systematic literature review published in this journal in 2011, and provide a foundation for exploring the interactions between complexities and responses.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes a subjective view of complexity, focusing on the “lived experience” of managers. It takes an updated systematic literature review, and demonstrates the comprehensiveness of a framework to classify complexities of projects. It reports the findings from 43 workshops with over 1,100 managers.

Findings

First, the complexity framework is effective in aiding understanding. Second, and somewhat unexpectedly, managers were able to identify strategies to reduce the majority of complexities that they faced. Third, the workshops identified a typology of responses to residual complexities.

Research limitations/implications

The framework has demonstrated its utility, and a gap in understanding emergent complexities is identified. The framework further presents the opportunity to explore the recursive nature of complexity and response.

Practical implications

This paper provides a framework that is both comprehensive and comprehensible. The authors demonstrate that complexities can be reduced and provide a means to assess responses to residual complexities, including potentially matching managers to projects.

Originality/value

This work extends the previous systematic review combined with extensive empirical data to generate findings that are having impact in practice, and have the potential to strengthen a relatively neglected area within OM. A research agenda is suggested to support this.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 10 November 2014

Joshua Floyd

This paper aims to make the case for continued opportunity for high levels of human well-being under descent conditions characterised by declining economic throughput and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to make the case for continued opportunity for high levels of human well-being under descent conditions characterised by declining economic throughput and socio-political complexity.

Design/methodology/approach

Relationships between assumptions about human well-being formed within a modern industrial context, the guiding narratives attending these, and the broader cultural influence of ideas from the evolutionary sciences are examined. Alternative ways of making sense of these relationships are explored. The experiences of societies guided by cultural narratives based on different premises to those most influential in industrial societies are reviewed for their implications for human well-being under descent conditions.

Findings

Human experiences of well-being are principally a function of the sources of meaning and associated narratives by which members of a culture make sense of their situation, as these determine the nature of the material and energetic conditions required to live well. Under descent conditions, the narrative of progress that has supported viable societies during the 300-year period of industrial expansion is unlikely to continue serving humanity well. Collective participation in the renewal of guiding cultural narratives is a primary target for efforts to provide continued opportunities for high quality of life to all members of humanity.

Practical implications

The findings point towards specific characteristics of cultural sense-making narratives that may support viable human societies under descent conditions.

Social implications

By moving beyond the default assumption that descent automatically implies decline in human well-being, a barrier may be lowered to more open and mature society-wide engagement in conversations about the present human predicament and effective ways of responding to it.

Originality/value

New connections are identified between perspectives based on biological evolutionary theory and the continued influence of the idea of progress in establishing default assumptions about prospects for human well-being under descent conditions. Experiences of non-industrial societies are taken as the basis for identifying opportunities for human well-being under far more modest material and energetic conditions than those available to the portion of humanity that presently enjoys benefits of industrial development that outweigh the attendant costs.

Details

foresight, vol. 16 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 10 May 2019

Rita Henriikka Lavikka, Riikka Kyrö, Antti Peltokorpi and Anna Särkilahti

Hospital construction projects often suffer from relatively late changes in the project lifecycle, which disrupt the project execution and impact project productivity. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Hospital construction projects often suffer from relatively late changes in the project lifecycle, which disrupt the project execution and impact project productivity. The purpose of this paper is to explore the root causes of changes in hospital construction projects. The paper aims to propose ways to prepare for the changes.

Design/methodology/approach

The study focuses on changes during the construction of new hospital facilities. An explorative, case study research design is utilised. Five case projects from Finland, Sweden and the USA were selected for in-depth analysis. The primary data comprise semi-structured interviews, supported by secondary evidence such as change order documents.

Findings

The findings reveal eight categories for change sources: contracts, and equipment and systems are reflective of the fast-paced healthcare technology and changing user requirements, while external environment comprises changes caused by both regulatory and physical environment. Changes in operations are reflected in the continuous development of treatment methods and processes. The user, owner, designer and contractor initiated changes represent the stakeholder influence. The paper makes a connection between these change sources and project complexity dimension. A framework for change dynamics is introduced, and product and process flexibility is suggested as a suitable method to prepare for and manage changes.

Originality/value

The paper is the first to link construction changes to project complexity factors. The paper argues that changes, when managed appropriately, are not only necessary but also beneficial to large construction projects in a quickly changing environment. The findings guide project stakeholders in implementing project flexibility, in the product and process dimensions, which is a balancing force to project complexity.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 26 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 17 April 2018

Budi Hartono

The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic classification for frameworks, methods, and models of in-project quantitative risk analysis (IQRA) for the last 30 years.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic classification for frameworks, methods, and models of in-project quantitative risk analysis (IQRA) for the last 30 years.

Design/methodology/approach

An extensive literature review is conducted to identify pertinent IQRA works. Identified IQRA frameworks/methods/models are then classified on the basis of commonalities in key attributes and assumptions. Linkages between each category of IQRAs and dimensions of complexity are also observed.

Findings

Around 70 key publications on IQRAs are identified. Major attributes for each work are described. Five distinct categories of IQRAs emerge with unique linkages to complexity dimensions. An analytical framework in the form of a matrix is presented to illuminate evolution on modeling characteristics and to indicate a relationship between respective category and dimensions of project complexity.

Research limitations/implications

The research coverage is intended to be comprehensive but it is by no means exhaustive. This study highlights research opportunities in IQRAs and the possible extension toward in-project quantitative complexity analysis (IQCA).

Practical implications

The proposed matrix provides guidance to practitioners to select the appropriate category of IQRAs for a specific project complexity type in a contingency fashion. The study highlights lessons from development and utilization of IQRAs. Outstanding issues from IQRAs are discussed to avoid similar drawbacks for IQCAs.

Originality/value

This study provides an original framework/matrix to classify extant works in IQRAs. It also establishes an association between IQRAs and the emerging conceptual works of complexity.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2010

Klaasjan Visscher, J. Irene and A. Visscher‐Voerman

The purpose of this paper is to map the variety in organizational design approaches, to clarify their differences, and to find out what constitutes good designing in practice.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to map the variety in organizational design approaches, to clarify their differences, and to find out what constitutes good designing in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of in‐depth interviews with experienced, high‐reputation consultants is used to reconstruct organizational design practice.

Findings

The paper presents a typology with three organizational design approaches, stemming from different theoretical traditions. The paper demonstrates that the three approaches comprise both traditional design activities – analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation – experimental activities, and political activities, but that the emphasis, elaboration, rationale and order of these activities are very different for each approach.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides a framework for further research on the contextualization of design processes, investigating which design approaches work under which conditions.

Practical implications

Practitioners can use the results of this study to clarify, improve and enrich their own approach of organizational designing.

Originality/value

Management literature contains many models of organization design processes, but empirical studies of these processes are rare, and not yet existing in the context of management consulting. The paper fills some of the gaps.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 48 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 18 August 2020

Osamuyimen Egbon and Chijoke Oscar Mgbame

The paper examines how oil multinational companies (MNCs) in Nigeria framed accounts to dissociate themselves from causing oil spills.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper examines how oil multinational companies (MNCs) in Nigeria framed accounts to dissociate themselves from causing oil spills.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors utilised data from relevant corporate reports, external accounts and interviews, and used sensegiving with defensive behaviours theoretical framing to explore corporate narratives aimed at altering stakeholders' perceptions.

Findings

The corporations gave sense to their audience by invoking scapegoating blame avoidance narrative in attributing the cause of most oil spills in Nigeria to outsiders (sabotage), despite potentially misclassifying the sabotage-corrosion dichotomy. Corporate stance was reinforced through justifying narrative, which suggested that multi-stakeholders jointly determined the causes of oil spills, thus portraying corporate accounts as transparent, credible and objective.

Research limitations/implications

The socio-political dynamics in an empirical setting affect corporate accounts and how those accounts appear persuasive, implying that such contextual factors merit consideration when evaluating corporate accounts. For example, despite contradictions in corporate accounts, corporate attribution of oil spills to external factors appeared persuasive due to the inherently complicated socio-political dynamics.

Practical implications

With compensation to oil spills' victims only legally permitted for non-sabotage-induced spills alongside the burden of proof on the victims, the MNCs are incentivised to attribute most oil spills to sabotage. On policy implication, accountability would be best served when the MNCs are tasked both with the burden of proof and a responsibility to demonstrate their transparency in preventing oil spills, including those caused by sabotage.

Originality/value

Crisis situations generate multiple and competing perspectives, but sensegiving and defensive behaviours lenses enrich our understanding of how crisis-ridden companies frame narratives to alter stakeholders' perceptions. Accounts-giving therefore partly satisfies accountability demands, and acts as sensegiving signals aimed at reframing/redefining existing perceptions.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 24 February 2020

Xiaosong (Jason) Wu, Wei (Wayne) Huang, James Jiang, Gary Klein and Shan Liu

Two challenges faced by automotive component design projects within contracted design agencies are (1) specification changes requested by the manufacturers and (2) product…

Abstract

Purpose

Two challenges faced by automotive component design projects within contracted design agencies are (1) specification changes requested by the manufacturers and (2) product information or core technology knowledge leakage to external actors. We examine the effects of targeted boundary activities that address these challenges under the contingencies of environmental uncertainty and project complexity.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on Boundary management theory, a bidirectional model of boundary buffering was conceptualized in the context of design agency teams developing automotive components. A survey is derived from the proposed model. Regression analysis is performed using empirical data from 234 auto component design projects in Chinese design agencies.

Findings

Boundary buffering activities that strengthen outside-in boundaries and inside-out boundaries directly improve the final design quality. Further, the magnitude of effect for outside-in buffering on design quality is enhanced under environmental uncertainty, while the impact of inside-out buffering on design quality is enhanced under project complexity.

Research limitations/implications

Boundary activities should consider differences in boundary targets, directional flow of information, and context of scope.

Practical implications

Automotive component design agents should attend to both outside-in and inside-out boundary buffering, especially under conditions of environmental uncertainty or project complexity.

Originality/value

The proposed bidirectional view on boundary buffering adds perspective to team boundary management theory. Specific contingencies include common risk elements of project complexity and environmental uncertainty not typically associated with the need for buffering activities.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 40 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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