Different perspectives of public project managers on project success

Leonie Koops*, Ceciel Van Loenhout, Marian Bosch-Rekveldt, Marcel Hertogh, Hans Bakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The authors argue that public project managers do not consider the iron triangle (cost, quality and schedule) primary important in measuring the success of their projects. To investigate which success criteria are important to public project managers, the authors interviewed 26 Dutch project managers who are employed by the government and who are responsible for managing infrastructural projects. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach - In this research the Q-methodology is applied. Q-methodology helps to find for correlations between subjects across a sample of variables. Q-factor analysis reduces the individual viewpoints down to a few factors. A factor can be seen as the mathematical representation of an "average" perspective shared by a group of people. Findings - Findings are based on the individual rankings of 19 success criteria; the authors distinguished three common perspectives: the holistic and cooperative leader, the socially engaged, ambiguous manager and the executor of a top-down assignment. In none of the perspectives the iron triangle criteria formed the top three to measure project success. Research limitations/implications - The research results may have a national character. The way project success is perceived by public project managers may be culture dependent. For this the authors expand the research to other countries in the near future. Practical implications - This paper contributes to the understanding of the public project manager by their private collaboration partners, like consultants, engineers and contractors. This will help them to understand their client and contribute to better collaboration in projects. Originality/value - This paper shows that the difference in work attitude and value frame in the public sector leads to a specific view on project success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1294-1318
Number of pages25
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Construction management
  • Government
  • Management
  • Organizational culture
  • Performance criteria
  • Project management

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