A new focus in the empirical research of manageability in projects

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The outcomes of complex projects regularly reveal the failure of management, when trying to control them towards a predicted outcome. This article reports on a study looking at the emergence of unmanageability in these projects. It takes as a point of departure that the occurrence of unmanageability cannot be attributed to a limited set of discernible decisions, but instead depends on broad trade-offs, often with double bind character. This then leads to the observation that a different approach is also needed to fight unmanageability. While individual trade-offs do not necessarily lead to unmanageability, the research identifies patterns of trade-off outcomes that can cause a project to spiral out of control. Finding coherence towards more manageable projects is shown to be difficult though, since the trade-offs are made separately in different phases of the project and on different levels in the project hierarchy. This article does make a case for more awareness of the coherence of trade-offs by referencing later phases in time and more operational levels in the hierarchy, and suggests aids to achieve higher manageability using such coherent approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationinternationaal Project Management Congres Adapt or Die
Subtitle of host publicationResearch meets practice; Towards project management 3.0
PublisherDelft University of Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventProject Management Congress “ADAPT or DIE”.: Research meets Practice: towards Project Management 3.0 - Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 11 Apr 201912 Apr 2019


ConferenceProject Management Congress “ADAPT or DIE”.
Abbreviated titlePM congress 2019
Internet address


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