Comparing Project Complexity across Different Industry Sectors

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Increasing complexity of projects is mentioned as one of the reasons for project failure—still. This paper presents a comparative research to investigate how project complexity was perceived by project practitioners in different industry sectors. Five sectors were included: process industry, construction industry, ICT, high-tech product development, and food processing industry. In total, more than 140 projects were included in the research, hence providing a broad view on Dutch project practice. From the complexity assessments, it is concluded that only one complexity element was present in the top complexity elements of projects across the five sectors: the high project schedule drive. The variety of external stakeholders’ perspectives, a lack of resources and skills availability, and interference with existing site were found in the top lists of three sectors. It was concluded that a framework to grasp project complexity could support the management of complex projects by creating awareness for the (expected) complexities. Further research could be focused on the subjective character of complexity as well as on the application of cross-sector learning, since this research does show similarities between large technical projects in different sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3246508
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • OA-Fund TU Delft


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