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Assessing and moving on from the dominant project management discourse in the light of project overruns

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1 Author(s)
Williams, T. ; Sch. of Manage., Southampton Univ., UK

There has been much prescriptive work in project management, exemplified in various "Bodies of Knowledge". However, experience shows some projects overspending considerably. Recently, systemic modeling research into the behavior of large projects explains project oversponds by "systemic" effects and the (sometimes counterintuitive) effect of management actions. However, while this work is becoming more widely known, embedding the lessons in project-management practice is not straightforward. The current prescriptive dominant discourse of project management contains implicit underlying assumptions with which the systemic modeling work clashes, indeed showing how conventional methods can exacerbate rather than alleviate project problems. Exploration of this modeling suggests that for projects that are complex, uncertain, and time-limited, conventional methods might be inappropriate, and aspects of newer methodologies in which the project "emerges" rather than being fully preplanned might be more appropriate. Some of the current literature on project-classification schemes also suggests similar parameters, without the rationale that the systemic modeling provides, thus providing useful backup to this analysis. The eventual aim of this line of work is to enable project managers to choose effective ways to manage projects based on understanding and model-based theory.

Published in:

Engineering Management, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:52 ,  Issue: 4 )