Practitioners’ Perspectives on Flexible Project Management

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Literature defines two main streams in project management: mechanistic and organic. Mechanistic reflects the traditional waterfall approach and organic reflects a more adaptive approach. The organic approach became known by the awareness of dynamic project environment and changing requirements. The organic approach is characterized by flexibility. Accordingly, scholars and practitioners tried to define flexibility and find ways to make project management more flexible. However, scientific literature about practitioners’ perspectives on making project management flexible is lacking. Therefore, this paper explores practitioners’ perspectives on project management flexibility by the use of Q-methodology. The scope of the paper was narrowed down to the front-end phase of infrastructure projects. Two types of organizations were targeted: client and consultancy organizations. Data were gathered from 43 respondents from six organizations (three client and three consultancy organizations) in The Netherlands. The results of the study reveal three distinct perspectives on flexibility for both organization types (client and consultant): flexibility by trust, flexibility by scope management, and flexibility by proactive management. These perspectives partly support defined flexibility categories in literature. Further research could focus on exploring the perspectives in different project phases, operationalizing the perspectives in practice, and team composition taking into account these perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8735747
Pages (from-to)911-925
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Volume68 (2021)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Agile project management
  • Q-methodology
  • construction industry
  • planning phase
  • flexible project management


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