ArticlePDF Available

Identification of failure factors in large scale complex projects: an integrative framework and review of emerging themes

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Project cost and time overruns have been the subject of much debate in large scale complex project management, however, there is no study of its determinants. This study identifies some specific factors contributing to poor performance in the large scale complex project – none of these is uncommon but here they come together in a more systematic and an integrative way. By providing an integrative framework of failure factors, this study fills an existing gap in the project management literature regarding the lack of understanding of determinants of project cost and time overruns and, from a practice perspective, assists in more effectively distributing limited resources, such as budget, time and manpower.
Content may be subject to copyright.
I
nt. J. Project Organisation and Managemen
t
, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2019 1
Copyright © 2019 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Identification of failure factors in large scale complex
projects: an integrative framework and review of
emerging themes
Azadeh Rezvani*
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law,
The University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia
Email: a.rezvani@uq.edu.au
*Corresponding author
Pouria Khosravi
QUT Business School,
Queensland University of Technology,
2 George Street, Brisbane,
Queensland, 4000, Australia
Email: pouria.khosravi@hdr.qut.edu.au
Abstract: Project cost and time overruns have been the subject of much debate
in large scale complex project management, however, there is no study of its
determinants. This study identifies some specific factors contributing to poor
performance in the large scale complex project none of these is uncommon
but here they come together in a more systematic and an integrative way. By
providing an integrative framework of failure factors, this study fills an existing
gap in the project management literature regarding the lack of understanding of
determinants of project cost and time overruns and, from a practice perspective,
assists in more effectively distributing limited resources, such as budget, time
and manpower.
Keywords: failure factor; project failure; complex project; large project;
systematic review; integrative framework; project organisation; project
management; risk factor.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Rezvani, A. and
Khosravi, P. (2019) ‘Identification of failure factors in large scale complex
projects: an integrative framework and review of emerging themes’, Int. J.
Project Organisation and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.1–21.
Biographical notes: Azadeh Rezvani is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the
Business School at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research
interests include leadership, emotional intelligence, innovation adoption and
project management. Her work appears in various journals and conferences
including International Journal of Information Management, Team
Performance Management, Computers in Human Behaviours and International
Journal of Project Management.
2
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Pouria Khosravi is a Researcher in the School of Management at the
Queensland University of Technology, Australia. His research focuses on
innovation adoption, leadership and IS implementation. His work appears in
journals including International Journal of Project Management, International
Journal of Information Management, Computers in Human Behaviours and
International Journal of Medical Informatics.
1 Introduction
Why do large scale projects fail? This question has motivated researchers and
practitioners to investigate the underlined problems of poor performance in complex
projects. Complex projects have certain characteristics that make them fragile against
collapse (Mazur et al., 2014). They are characterised by high complexity and uncertainty,
a large number of stakeholders that contributes to time and budget overrun (Flyvbjerg
et al., 2016; Rezvani et al., 2018b; Williams, 2016). Typically, these projects are
commissioned by governments and delivered by private enterprises (Dvir et al., 2006).
Many of these projects attract public attention because of their substantial impacts on
communities, the environment and budgets (Van Marrewijk et al., 2008).
Challenges and problems to large-scale complex projects can negatively influence
organisational capabilities, productivity and performance of these projects (Toor and
Ogunlana, 2009a). Several researchers conducted studies to identify the causes of failure
in complex projects (Thamhain, 2013; Yau and Yang, 2012; Han et al., 2009). For
example, Thamhain (2013) has revealed that the main causes of cost overruns stem from
a lack of a competent and effective leader, lack of management commitment, instability
of project team and redesign or changing project requirements. Shenhar et al. (2016)
indicated that major causes of schedule delay arise from lack of underestimating the
project requirements, material procurement and, incorrect installation of software.
Although these studies provide a ground for understanding why projects fail in complex
projects. However, the literature lacks up-to-date synthesis of such phenomenon
regarding complex projects. We also found no study in the literature about a generic
taxonomy of barriers to success within large-scale complex projects.
It is, therefore, of value to conduct a systematic review of the literature on the failure
factors for large scale complex projects so as to broaden the understanding of the best
ways of delivering successful complex projects to both practitioners and researchers.
Recognising and understanding the potential failure factors in large scale complex
projects is essential for acquiring and preserving the capabilities that are needed to
perform well in dynamic, uncertain and constantly changing environments (Toor and
Ogunlana, 2009b; Shenhar et al., 2016).
This paper, which focuses on failure factors, in large-scale complex projects, makes
several contributions. First, this research synthesises the contribution of research on
failure factors, in large scale complex projects. A key distinction is made among failure
factors, in the domain of large scale complex projects management. By distinguishing
different loci of failure factors, the paper identifies the determinants of project failure in
complex projects. Specifically, this review initially analyses separately failure factors into
meaningful categories. By identification of the problems in managing complex projects,
this research provides an integrative framework for future research, including the
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 3
development of a new managerial approach for managing complex projects. Finally, the
research findings provide practitioners with a better understanding of common challenges
in managing complex projects so that practitioners are aware of these problems and take
appropriate measures to address them.
2 Large scale complex project
Researchers have not yet determined a single definition for a large scale complex project
(Vidal et al., 2011) however, project complexity refers to the project with undefined
(Qureshi and Kang, 2015; Thomas and Mengel, 2008), chaotic (Thomas and Mengel,
2008), interrelated (Browning, 2014; Qureshi and Kang, 2015; Yang et al., 2011),
fast-paced, erratic, ambiguity and non-linear (Qureshi and Kang, 2015; Senescu et al.,
2012; Yang et al., 2011). Complexity has increased due to the hypercompetitive
economy’ and multiple success parameters put in place by an organisation [Assudani and
Kloppenborg, (2010), p.67]. Complex projects like their non-complex cousins,
traditional projects are about adding value to the organisation. In this study, following
the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standard (GAPPS, 2007) guidelines and
prior studies in complex projects (Ahern et al., 2014; Rezvani et al., 2018; Locatelli et al.,
2014; Rezvani et al., 2016c; Bosch-Rekveldt et al., 2011) we consider a project as being
‘large-scale’ if it has at least one of the following characteristics: a high degree of
uncertainty and mixture of joined organisations and sub-contracting (Ahern et al., 2014);
rapid change of technology (Davies and Mackenzie, 2014; Bosch-Rekveldt et al., 2011);
high degree of interdependency between a number of system parts and organisations
involved (Locatelli and Mancini, 2012; Rezvani et al., 2018b); strong legal, social or
environmental implications from undertaking the project (William, 2016); strategic
importance of the project to the organisation or organisations involved (Mazur et al.,
2014; Bosch-Rekveldt et al., 2011); stakeholders with conflicting needs regarding the
characteristics of the project’s product (Locatelli et al., 2014); and newness of technology
(Robinson Fayek et al., 2006).
In spite of the huge interest by governments worldwide in large-scale complex
projects, its implementation is still experiencing lots of impediments which need critical
attention. Among such obstacles encountered with successful delivery of large-scale
projects include lack of transparent communication, lengthy time period, lack of top
management support, lack of detailed plan, lack of user/owner satisfaction (Fortune and
White, 2006; Yu et al., 2005; Ogunlana, 2008; Alshawi et al., 2012; Rezvani and
Khosravi, 2018). These obstacles within large-scale complex projects contribute to the
importance of a review of studies on barrier factors in order to inform the future
successful delivery of large-scale complex projects. In addition, large scale complex
projects are infamous for their high failure rate. Only one in eight large scale complex
projects is delivered on time, within budget and meeting requirements (McManus and
Wood-Harper, 2007). The failure of large-scale projects has been disastrous for many
organisations. A recent estimate of the cost of project failure across the European Union
was $142 billion Euros in 2004 (McManus and Wood-Harper, 2007). Identification of
failure factors in large and complex projects will actually enable practitioners to be more
enlightened with the challenges and issues for implementing successful future large-scale
complex projects thereby reducing the setbacks towards its implementation. Therefore,
4
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
the measurement of failure factors that lead to poor performance is frequent research
topics that deserve attention.
3 Methodology
Following guidelines offered by Tranfield et al. (2003), a systematic review was
conducted to identify and synthesise all the available research evidence of sufficient
quality over three stages: planning, conducting and reporting the review. In the planning
stage, the author identified a need for a review and developed research questions and the
review protocol. In the conducting stage, the author performed searches, identified
included studies, extracted data from studies and synthesised the data. In the reporting
stage, the authors reported the results.
3.1 Search terms
This systematic literature review was guided by the research questions investigating
project barriers or failure factors in the context of complex project management. A
three-step search strategy was used (see Figure 1). An initial search of Science Direct,
Wiley and ABI/INFORM databases was undertaken to determine optimal search terms,
followed by a second search using all relevant keywords. In the second search, a number
of search terms were identified and grouped into two categories: (‘complex project*’ OR
‘mega project*’ OR ‘large-scale project*’ OR ‘large project*’ OR ‘major project*’)
AND (‘failure’ OR ‘project barrier factor*’ OR ‘poor performance’ OR ‘project failure’
OR ‘cost overruns’ OR ‘project risk*’ OR ‘time overruns’).
Figure 1 The three-phase search strategy
Search in target d atabases
Title/Abstr act/
Keywords search
Annual
publication
Final papers
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3
Findings Countries
Method
Remove irrelevant papers
after reading full papers
Formul ate research
question
Papers
Filtering process
Yang et al. (2011) and Mok
et al. (2015)
Reading
Title/Abstract/Keywords
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 5
Finally, the selected terms were searched for across publication keywords, titles and
abstracts. In total, the search identified in excess of 1,654 papers. It was possible to get a
large number of papers, even with some limitations to the search, while performing
searches in databases with search strings. However, most of these papers were discussion
papers, duplicate papers or contained one of the review search terms but did not address
project success in complex projects. Therefore, once all studies had been retrieved from
the databases, the inclusion and exclusion criteria were used to determine whether the
study was relevant to the review, leaving a total of 433 publications for further analysis.
After removing duplicates and unrelated papers, we applied a two-stage filtering process
previously adopted by Yang et al. (2011) and Mok et al. (2015) in their literature review
(see Figure 1.). In the first stage, we reviewed the abstracts and introductions of the
remaining 433 papers that addressed barrier factors. This process led to the extraction of
311 papers, leaving 64 papers for further review. In the second stage, the author excluded
irrelevant papers after the full text was retrieved and thoroughly assessed. As a result,
32 articles were included in this study and were considered to offer insights about project
success in complex project environments based on the inclusion criteria. It must be
emphasised that the extraction and examination of papers are solely based on the data
acquired from the specific databases adopted in this study. Furthermore, this study does
not intend to examine a complete population of papers on barrier/failure factors but to
review the trend of research on challenging factors that impede the chance of success in
large scale projects and the most reported barrier factors for future examination and
implementation of large scale projects. However, we believe the articles identified for the
systematic review are demonstrative of the literature, owing to the rigorous search
process employed.
3.2 Inclusion/exclusion criteria
The systematic review limited to empirical papers that:
1 were published in peer review journals
2 provided empirical evidence regarding the barrier factors in complex projects.
Studies in languages other than English, conceptual papers, conference papers,
unpublished full-text documents and review papers were excluded from the search. This
review also excluded reports because reports have criticised for failing to describe the
research method used (Savolainen et al., 2012; Jørgensen and Moløkken-Østvold, 2006).
3.3 Data synthesis for systematic review
This study used a combination of analytical approaches to guarantee a rigorous research
process and to increase the validity and reliability of the systematic literature review
(Levy and Ellis, 2006), namely descriptive and thematic analysis (Morgan and Smircich,
1980; Ritchie et al., 2013). The descriptive analysis allows the main characteristics of the
field under investigation to be identified (Dey, 2003) such as a year of publication,
countries and methodology. The thematic analysis consists of synthesising the main
outcomes extracted from the literature and condensing the text into fewer content-related
6
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
categories of qualitative data via content analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006; Guest et al.,
2011). Content analysis is a method used to determine the major facets of a data set by
counting the number of times a topic appears (Neuendorf, 2002). According to the
literature, this is a valid method to undertake a systematic literature review (Levy and
Ellis, 2006). Following Ritchie’s et al. (2013) method, a series of steps were undertaken
in order to conduct a thematic analysis. First, the literature was read and textually
analysed to derive a set of suitable categories. This led to identifying recurring themes
from the collected literature with specific reference to various barrier factors. After the
themes were identified the authors arranged the main categories and their attributes using
a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to integrate the identified categories. Finally, the results of
the complete categorisation set were condensed into Table A1.
4 Overview of selected publications
4.1 Annual publications
As shown in Figure 2, a rapid increase of publication in the complex project began in
2000. The fast pace of complex or large project development can be attributed to the
advanced technology and rapid globalisation (Mok et al., 2015). This shows the gradual
rising of interest in exploring the best ways of delivering successful large scale complex
projects. It is predicted that this trend of increasing research on complex projects would
continue as more governments and countries are now embracing and implementing these
types of projects, which would naturally foster more research in that area.
Figure 2 The annual number of publications (see online version for colours)
4.2 Projects per country
In order to ascertain countries with most large-scale projects, a simple counting of papers
on countries was conducted. However, publications with a research focus in more than
one country were considered ‘International’, therefore, were not attributed to any specific
country. This is because such publications discuss more on international large-scale
complex projects rather than being country specific. With this approach, the countries
with most studies are presented in Figure 3. The vast majority of studies investigating
barrier factors for large scale complex project come from International studies, UK,
China, Australia, USA, Thailand and Vietnam which have the highest numbers of
publications, with 6, 4, 3 and 2 publications respectively. It is noticeable that
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 7
contributions from researchers in other countries are very low. This could be due to a
limited number of large scale projects or could be the publication in another language
than English, which was not considered in this study. More studies should be conducted
in other countries to account for the nature and structure of the local industry, scale of
complex projects, procurement strategies, the maturity of the concerned organisations and
local cultural values and norms.
Figure 3 Publications by county focus (see online version for colours)
4.3 Methodologies adopted for studies on large-scale complex projects
Three major categories of research methods were identified including case studies,
questionnaire survey and mixed method (questionnaire and cases studies). The respective
numbers of papers for the various categories are presented in Figure. 4. As demonstrated
in the figure, a case study is the most favoured research method in exploring the failure
factors for large scale projects accounting for 59% of the total number. This statistical
result is understandable as the case study approach provides an in-depth information
about the phenomenon under study (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991).
Figure 4 Research method (see online version for colours)
8
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Another favoured research method adopted on barrier and failure studies is the
questionnaire survey. This research method accounts for 25% of the total number of
publications. Questionnaire survey has always been the preferred method in project
management research (Edmondson and McManus, 2007). It allows more experts to
participate in the research study especially a sensitive and public policy like large scale
projects. The third research method adopted is the mixed method.
This also accounts for 16% of the total number of publications. The mixed method
adopted involves a mix of interviews, case study and questionnaire survey. This method
presents some advantages by combining the positive of different methods to study a
particular phenomenon. However, it must be noted that the use of a particular method to
explore failure factors for large scale projects depends on the time and jurisdiction of
study.
4.4 Journal names
The articles included in this study were published in 16 different journals (see Table 1).
These include: International Journal of Project Management, Project Management
Journal, Construction Innovation, Cost Engineering, Utilities Policy, The Journal of
High Technology Management Research, Engineering, Construction and Architectural
Management, Government Information Quarterly, Information System Journal, Public in
Administration, European Planning Studies, Information Systems Management, IEEE
Transactions on Engineering Management, Construction Management and Economics,
and Decision Science and Progress in Planning. Based on the studies in our final pool,
18 Out of 32 articles were published in the International Journal of Project Management
(n = 9), Project Management Journal (n = 5) and Engineering, Construction and
Architectural Management (n = 4). This could be useful to researchers seeking to conduct
future studies on failure factors to the existing discussions.
Table 1 Papers on failure factors in various journals
Journal name No.
International Journal of Project Management 9
Project Management Journal 5
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management 4
Information Systems Journal 2
Decision Sciences 1
Construction Innovation 1
Information Systems Management 1
The Journal of High Technology Management Research 1
Public Administration 1
Construction Management and Economics 1
Cost Engineering 1
Progress in Planning 1
European Planning Studies 1
Utilities Policy 1
IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 1
Government Information Quarterly 1
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 9
5 Integrative framework
A new and integrative framework is proposed based on the system theory
(Von Bertalanffy, 1968) as shown in Figure 5. System theory is appropriate as it is an
interdisciplinary theory that integrates diverse complex systems in society or nature.
More specifically, the system theory argues that organisational systems comprise of
interconnected subsystems or elements that need to continually work and coordinate with
each other to produce change and desirable results. According to the system theory, every
organisation, as a part of a larger system, depends on its environments such as industry or
the society (Weihrich et al., 2008). In addition, system theory posits that organisations
obtain inputs, process them and produces the outputs to the environment. Inputs can
include resources, personal attribute, attitude, behaviour, knowledge and strategy. It
shows that project management can be categorised into three general phases: input,
process and outcome (Toor and Ogunlana, 2009b). Inputs can include project objectives,
resources, personal attribute, attitude, behaviour, knowledge and strategy. The process
can include devising an adequate project management knowledge and techniques to
achieve goals and project objectives (Toor and Ogunlana, 2009a). Finally, outputs can
include a combination of several factors that might contribute to project failure or poor
performance.
Figure 5 Integrative framework
Organisational Factors
Poor communication/relationship w ith
stakeholders
Lack of organizational st ructure
Lack of uniform standards for
informa tion
Lack of access to relevant information
Changing organizational priorities
Disproportionate focus on policy
setting
Excessive and misplaced trust in
commercial partners
Use of unproven vendors
Change management
Organisational complexity
Lack of learning f rom past project
Outsourcing structures where owner
firms do not maintain high levels of
dominance over the activities
Lack of top management support
Project Personnel Factors
Lack of competent and eff ective leader
Poor risk management
Poor project control
Lack of management co mmitment
Wrongful use of power
Poor operation management
Lack of top management support
Inst ability of project team
Conf lict in proje ct t eam
Lack of trust to team members
Unqualified engineers
Lack of team work experiences
Contractual F actors
Contractual disputes
Complexity in managing contract
Project design and implementation
Poor planning/ unclear initial
requirements
Redesign / Rework / Changing
project requirements
Ineffect ive response plan
Inaccuracy of project information
Inadequate business process model
Inadequate security measures for
the eventual operation of the
scheme
Political/L egal
Governmental processes
Undervaluation / changing of
regulation requirements
Lack of coordination with local
governments
Political intervention
Legal operating environment
Protest
Lack of political ant ennae
Technical & Financial
Price inc rements
Unava ilability of resource s
Changing market or customer
needs
Diff iculty in la nd acquis ition or
site availa bility
Technical diff iculties
System complexity
Newness of the project
Inappropriate scheduling tools
Technology change
Incorrect installations
Software delay
Poor
Performan ce/
Cost & Time
Overruns
Figure 5 represents the result of our systematic review. The selected studies were
thoroughly examined in a search for barriers to success in large scale projects. After
arriving at several distinguishable failure factors, we have classified them into six groups
namely organisational, project personnel, contractual, project design and implementation,
political and legal, financial and technical grounded in system theory as a theoretical lens
which permits a more comprehensive means to integrate barrier factors. The groups are
10
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
interrelated as can be shown from the figure. A factor in one group can influence a factor
in another group and a combination of several factors from various groups might
contribute to project failure or poor performance. Identified factors and related groups
could be considered as input related factors based on system theory affecting the project
outcomes directly and indirectly.
The first category, organisational, is based on Yetton et al. (2000); the second
category contractual is adopted from Flyvbjerg (2008); the third category of project
personnel, is on the basis of Anthopoulos et al. (2016) and Toor and Ogunlana (2009b)
work. The fourth category, project design and implementation are based on the Hall et al.
(2012) work. The political and legal category is adapted from Van Marrewijk et al.
(2008); Financial and technical is based on Alshawi et al. (2012) and Shenhar et al.
(2016) work. The complete set of categorisations was discussed in a meeting (Rust and
Cooil, 1994). Any discordances were settled during the meeting and the complete set of
final categories were finalised as shown in Figure 5.
Various failure factors in the groups can come into play simultaneously and cause
new difficulties or lead to additional obstacles during project implementation, which in
turn might cause projects to fail. Based on the system theory a system can respond to
these challenges in many ways. For example, a project personnel competency is being
affected by the factors related to the organisation, especially top management support, by
the project manager’s ability to implement a project, by technological, economic and
social factors and by the factors related to the project such as its complexity, newness of
the project. Similarly, lack of effective communication between all project stakeholders,
as one of the organisational factors, was seen as a factor influencing trust and conflict
among project personnel during the project stage which leads to poor performance
(Mazur et al., 2014; Rezvani et al., 2018a). As a result, by analysing the cause-effect
relationship given in the framework, project managers would be able to identify and
eliminate the factors that have a negative effect on their performance. These activities
result in the client’s acceptance of the project outcome, which is then perceived as a
success. For instance, lack of detailed plan and control decrease effective communication
and management of stakeholders.
The groups are interrelated as can be shown from Figure 5. A factor in one group can
influence a factor in another group and a combination of several factors from various
groups might contribute to project failure or poor performance. Identified factors and
related groups could be considered as an input related factors based on system theory
affecting the project outcomes directly and indirectly.
6 Discussions and recommendations
Organisational factors refer to the lack of structural and organisational priorities and
policies, as well as the lack of understanding of cultural aspects of an organisation (Hall
et al., 2012; Thamhain, 2013). For example, improper communication or failure to
communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders was considered a
hindrance factor for project success in complex projects (Rezvani et al., 2016c). This
could be due to organisations engaged in complex projects focusing primarily on the
technical aspects of a project, but lacking emphasis on communication with internal and
external stakeholders. Organisational barriers can be overcome by ensuring more
effective communication focused on setting clear goals and requirements and upholding
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 11
the principles of transparency and open communication among all the stakeholders
involved in complex projects (Liu et al., 2016; Remington and Pollack, 2007). This will
help to ensure the commitment of all organisations, allow all possible requirements to be
identified and all voices to be heard (Janssen et al., 2015).
Project personnel factors are related to a lack of or poor managerial skills and
competencies throughout the project life cycle. These can have negative consequences,
affecting everything from technical feasibility to cost, market timing, financial
performance and strategic objectives (Alshawi et al., 2012; Hall et al., 2012, Rezvani,
2013). For example, lack of a competent and effective leader is the most frequently cited
barrier in the project management literature. This illustrates the lack of attention to
managerial behaviours and skills in complex projects. Earlier research in complex
projects has shown that managerial skills and competencies can be trained (Clarke, 2010;
Rezvani et al., 2016a, 2016b). In large scale complex projects, organisations should
introduce training approaches that increase managerial competency and skills in project
leaders and managers. In addition, lack of trust among team members and lack of
teamwork experiences produce management pressures and exacerbate conflict and
instability within the team (Rezvani and Khosravi, 2018; Rezvani et al., 2018a; Rose and
Schlichter, 2013; Yetton et al., 2000). Project personnel failure factors can also be
softened through applying effective approaches to conflict management, focused on
transparency and open discussion of any differences between project teams and joint
problem-solving. Researchers have advocated that effective conflict management
increases mutual trust and allows teams to successfully resolve their disagreements and
develop team cohesion (Somech et al., 2009). Strong intergroup leadership to enact a
shared group identity is also critical to decreasing conflict and instability in project teams
(Hogg et al., 2012).
Contractual problems arise when stakeholders pursue self-interested goals in
initiating contracts and there are an inadequate and ineffective coordination and lack of
information sharing among the parties (Alshawi et al., 2012; Anthopoulos et al., 2016;
Long et al., 2004). This highlights that in complex projects many contractors and
sub-contractors are involved, resulting in complex relationships between parties. Such
intricate relationships often cause deficiencies in contractual agreements. These barriers
can be overcome by ensuring transparency in defining goals and clarity of contractual
agreements. Kent and Becerik-Gerber (2010) assert that as a backup plan, project-based
organisations can buy insurance against the risk of either party breaching the contract.
Through such contractual arrangements, both parties can secure their interests. However,
it is important to note that complex projects often have ambitious and ambiguous goals
and a very long time horizon, thus these recommendations are difficult to implement in
practice (Rezvani et al., 2016a). A more realistic strategy is to employ a strong
contractual agreement based on shared risk and reward arrangements, such as a policy of
‘sink or swim together’ (Kent and Becerik-Gerber, 2010). A good example of contractual
success through shared risk and reward is the London Heathrow Terminal 5 project,
where both parties agreed on mutual risk and gain sharing; all stakeholders in the project,
including project partners and contractors, worked collaboratively and responded to
emergent, unforeseen problems in real-time, a risk budget was maintained and remaining
profits were shared (Kardes et al., 2013). The project was finished on time and within the
budget of £4.2 billion in 2008.
12
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Project design and implementation failure factors refer to the lack of detailed
specification of the implementation process (Patanakul, 2014). Project design and
implementation problems may highlight the lack of clear initial requirements it also
reflects the nature of complex projects, which includes ambiguous project goals, a long-
time horizon, unforeseen challenges and complex relationships which might alter its
course and force the team to learn and continuously readjust the plan. It has been argued
that without a clear project design and documented requirements there is a high
possibility of new requirements being added to the project and existing requirements
being discarded (Patanakul, 2014), undermining the chance of project success (Hall et al.,
2012; Thamhain, 2013). Large projects cannot be completed without detailed planning
from the start as the complexity is very high, which in turn may influence their
development (Janssen et al. 2015). In order to overcome project design and
implementation challenges one solution would be to start out with a sufficient front-end
plan, especially for the nearest tasks, that accounts for likely changes in the project
direction, or changes in technology and the legal environment, since most complex
projects have little flexibility after initiation due to their high degree of regulation.
Studies have highlighted that projects with better initial design processes and monitoring
progress show a higher success rate than those with insufficient front-end plans and a
progress update (Davies and Mackenzie, 2014). Investment in the early stages of the
project can help to maintain the schedule and improve quality. Therefore, cost reduction
is secured and better outcomes are achieved (Davies and Mackenzie, 2014).
Political/legal factors relate to government or political intervention, which interferes
with or prevents business transactions, or changes in the terms of agreements in the
project planning phase (Alshawi et al., 2012). These barriers arise from the actions of
local as well as national governments due to the uncertainty from possible changes in the
policies of regulatory bodies, which may affect project costs and revenue (Thamhain,
2013). These changes include the levels of local and national taxation, limitations on the
import and export of foreign and local currencies and changes in the levels of customs
duties on imported equipment and supplies (Yau and Yang, 2012). To cope with
political/legal barriers one solution would be to co-operate and maintain good
relationships with local government departments by preparing all necessary documents
and feasibility reports in a timely manner (Alshawi et al., 2012). It is also important to
obtain support from foreign firms’ home governments and international monetary
institutions, such as the World Bank, against expropriation by local government or its
agencies. In addition, forming a cooperative joint venture with local partners, especially
the central-local government agencies or state-owned companies is also vital (Yau and
Yang, 2012). It is also very important to carefully study the differential taxation laws and
find legal and reasonable measures to reduce taxes (Locatelli and Mancini, 2012).
Financial factors refer to the lack of money, funding and resources for complex
projects (Alshawi et al., 2012). Large scale projects are sturdily affected by the economy
in a society. Generally, the scale of complex projects is typically associated with the
degree of a nation’s economic foundation (Alshawi et al., 2012). Scholars exploring the
impact of financial difficulty on complex projects has shown that communication and
maintain good relationships with local government and public interest do indeed
influence time and cost management in large scale projects. The outcome is even more
noticeable for the whole region or nation. High degree of support from the government,
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 13
can increase the chance of project success because they have the resources and
experience to deal with financial barriers (Alshawi et al., 2012). In particular, the
government has the legal power to ensure that the required resources are obtained (Bing
et al., 2005). Other dominant sources of project financing are the World Bank and other
aid agencies. A good example is the ‘land acquisition’ of the YD2nd Tunnel in Shanghai,
China, where the local authority took responsibility for providing financial support (Bing
et al., 2005).
Technical factors refer to the lack of relevant knowledge and experience of the
technical aspects of the project and expertise that can lead to several problems and
inefficiencies in developing projects, increasing the risk of failure (Khosravi et al., 2012;
Yetton et al., 2000). The expertise of operation and maintenance of new technology
impacts considerably on the success of large scale complex projects, which has been
demonstrated by many studies (Hartmann et al., 2009; Shenhar et al., 2016). According to
Hartmann et al. (2009) and Rezvani et al. (2017a, 2017b), technical knowledge enables
the use of correct working methods to competently handle machinery and equipment. To
cope with technical difficulties in complex projects, managers, project managers and
project teams should possess the necessary skills and knowledge to use and maintain the
newly implemented technology (Brookes and Locatelli, 2015; Khosravi et al., 2013;
Rezvani et al., 2016a). In this domain, training, investing additional time, more testing
and prototyping the new and advanced technology play an important role to ensure the
new technology is used efficiently and to reduce resistance to change (Shenhar et al.,
2016).
To sum up, the new framework we developed in this paper (Figure 5) presents the
factors in a more systematic and integrative way. Identified failure factors and related
groups help project organisations to understand different factors that contribute to project
failure or poor performance. The integrative framework help project participants to
understand, for example, that lack political support influences many organisational
factors affecting the project outcome and these factors should be carefully considered
during project stage. In addition, the new framework shows that poor performance in
large scale projects depends on several factors which may include project personnel
factors or human-related factors, organisational factors, technical and financial factors
and factors related to contract and political factors. The new and integrative framework is
suited for the strategic planning and includes and goes beyond the traditional project
management role which is mainly concerned with technical and business/work process
design contents. The project management must now also be involved in creating the big
picture and taking into account other ‘soft related factors’ of human factors. The
traditional project management largely based on ‘hard’ systems engineering approach
will be found to be inadequate and incapable of coping with many of the ill-defined ‘soft’
problem situations.
As a practical implication, executives and project leaders in large scale projects can
use these findings, to sum up and provide reflections of all the challenges and barriers to
success before constructing and implementing new large-scale projects. More
importantly, a careful early analysis of the barrier factors and potential difficulties might
have foreseen many of the difficulties that shadowed and possibly evaded some of the
losses, including the subsequent reputational damage (Rezvani et al., 2015).
14
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
7 Conclusions
Overall the success of a large scale complex project can be improved with the knowledge
of failure factors and their influences on large scale complex projects. This research
offers practitioners a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of the potential
barriers to success in managing complex projects so that they might proactively address
those failure factors prior to problems emerging and effectively acquire and preserve the
capabilities that are needed to perform well in a dynamic, uncertain and constantly
changing the environment (Rezvani, 2018). As shown in Figure 5, the challenges in large
scale projects are abundant, so it is important to learn the lessons and pick up the failure
factors, to diminish the mistakes and guide the future constructions of large scale project.
Given the complexity and dynamics of complex projects, all stakeholders who are
involved in complex projects should have an understanding of the different factors that
impede the success of complex projects in order to implement proper strategies from the
initial project stages (Khosravi et al., 2012; Rezvani et al., 2012a, 2012b; Van Marrewijk
et al., 2008). The integrative framework and respective recommendations inform
governors and decision makers in making measures and control standards to minimise
challenges and difficulties. An integrated framework of failure factors and its related
influence on complex project performance could help organisations to effectively
distribute limited resources, such as budget, time and manpower (Toor and Ogunlana,
2010). By increasing awareness of various barriers, managers may be able to proactively
respond to unexpected problems before they pose a significant threat. Proactive responses
could significantly enhance project efficiency and increase the chance of success (Kardes
et al., 2013).
References
Ahern, T., Leavy, B. and Byrne, P.J. (2014) ‘Complex project management as complex problem
solving: a distributed knowledge management perspective’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 32, No. 8, pp.1371–1381.
Akkermans, H. and van Oorschot, K.E. (2016) ‘Pilot error? Managerial decision biases as an
explanation for disruptions in aircraft development’, Project Management Journal, Vol. 47,
No. 2, pp.79–102.
Alshawi, M., Goulding, J., Al Nahyan, M.T., Sohal, A.S., Fildes, B.N. and Hawas, Y.E. (2012)
‘Transportation infrastructure development in the UAE: stakeholder perspectives on
management practice’, Construction Innovation, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.492–514.
Anthopoulos, L., Reddick, C.G., Giannakidou, I. and Mavridis, N. (2016) ‘Why e-government
projects fail? An analysis of the Healthcare.gov website’, Government Information Quarterly,
Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.161–173.
Assudani, R. and Kloppenborg, T.J. (2010) ‘Managing stakeholders for project management
success: an emergent model of stakeholders’, Journal of General Management, Vol. 35, No. 3,
pp.67–80.
Bing, L., Akintoye, A., Edwards, P.J. and Hardcastle, C. (2005) ‘The allocation of risk in PPP/PFI
construction projects in the UK’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 23, No.
1, pp.25–35.
Bosch-Rekveldt, M., Jongkind, Y., Mooi, H., Bakker, H. and Verbraeck, A. (2011) ‘Grasping
project complexity in large engineering projects: the technical, organizational and
environmental (TOE) framework’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 29,
No. 6, pp.728–739.
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 15
Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in
Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.77–101.
Brookes, N.J. and Locatelli, G. (2015) ‘Power plants as megaprojects: using empirics to shape
policy, planning and construction management’, Utilities Policy, October, Vol. 36, pp.57–66.
Browning, T.R. (2014) ‘Managing complex project process models with a process architecture
framework’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp.229–241.
Clarke, N. (2010) ‘Emotional intelligence and its relationship to transformational leadership and
key project manager competences’, Project Management Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp.5–20.
Davies, A. and Mackenzie, I. (2014) ‘Project complexity and systems integration: constructing the
London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics games’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp.773–790.
Dey, I. (2003) Qualitative Data Analysis: A User Friendly Guide for Social Scientists, Routledge
New York.
Dimitriou, H.T., Ward, E.J. and Wright, P.G. (2013) ‘Mega transport projects – beyond the ‘iron
triangle’: findings from the OMEGA research programme’, Progress in Planning, November,
Vol. 86, pp.1–43.
Dvir, D., Ben-David, A., Sadeh, A. and Shenhar, A.J. (2006) ‘Critical managerial factors affecting
defence projects success: a comparison between neural network and regression analysis’,
Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp.535–543.
Edmondson, A.C. and McManus, S.E. (2007) ‘Methodological fit in management field research’,
Academy of Management Review, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp.1246–1264
Flyvbjerg, B. (2008) ‘Curbing optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation in planning: reference
class forecasting in practice’, European Planning Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.3–21.
Flyvbjerg, B., Stewart, A. and Budzier, A. (2016) The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost
Overrun at the Games, arXiv preprint arXiv:1607.04484.
Fortune, J. and White, D. (2006) ‘Framing of project critical success factors by a systems model’,
International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp.53–65.
Frinsdorf, O., Zuo, J. and Xia, B. (2014) ‘Critical factors for project efficiency in a defence
environment’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp.803–814.
Global Alliance for Project Performance Standard (GAPPS, 2007) ‘A framework for performance
based competency standards for global level 1 and 2 project managers’, Global Alliance for
Project Performance Standards [online] https://globalpmstandards.org/
Giezen, M. (2012) ‘Keeping it simple? A case study into the advantages and disadvantages of
reducing complexity in mega project planning’, International Journal of Project Management,
Vol. 30, No. 7, pp.781–790.
Guest, G., MacQueen, K.M. and Namey, E.E. (2011) Applied Thematic Analysis, Sage
Publications, Thousand Oaks, California, USA.
Hall, M., Kutsch, E. and Partington, D. (2012) ‘Removing the cultural and managerial barriers in
project to project learning: a case from the UK public sector’, Public Administration, Vol. 90,
No. 3, pp.664–684, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2011.01980.x.
Han, S.H., Yun, S., Kim, H., Kwak, Y.H., Park, H.K. and Lee, S.H. (2009) ‘Analyzing schedule
delay of mega project: lessons learned from Korea train express’, IEEE Transactions on
Engineering Management, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp.243–256.
Hartmann, A., Ling, F.Y.Y. and Tan, J.S. (2009) ‘Relative importance of subcontractor selection
criteria: evidence from Singapore’, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management,
Vol. 135, No. 9, pp.826–832.
Hogg, M.A., Van Knippenberg, D. and Rast, D.E. (2012) ‘Intergroup leadership in organizations:
leading across group and organizational boundaries’, Academy of Management Review,
Vol. 37, No. 2, pp.232–255.
16
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Hui, P.P., Davis-Blake, A. and Broschak, J.P. (2008) ‘Managing interdependence: the effects of
outsourcing structure on the performance of complex projects’, Decision Sciences, Vol. 39,
No 1, pp.5–31.
Janssen, M., Van Der Voort, H. and van Veenstra, A.F. (2015) ‘Failure of large transformation
project from the viewpoint of complex adaptive systems: management principles for dealing
with project dynamics’, Information Systems Frontiers, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.15–29.
Jørgensen, M. and Moløkken-Østvold, K. (2006) ‘How large are software cost overruns? A review
of the 1994 CHAOS report’, Information and Software Technology, Vol. 48, No. 4,
pp.297–301.
Kardes, I., Ozturk, A., Cavusgil, S.T. and Cavusgil, E. (2013) ‘Managing global megaprojects:
complexity and risk management’, International Business Review, Vol. 22, No. 6,
pp.905–917.
Kent, D.C. and Becerik-Gerber, B. (2010) ‘Understanding construction industry experience and
attitudes toward integrated project delivery’, Journal of Construction Engineering and
Management, Vol. 136, No. 8, pp.815–825.
Khosravi, P., Rezvani, A. and Ahmad, M.N. (2013) ‘Does organizational identification lead to
information system success?’, World Applied Sciences Journal, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.402–408.
Khosravi, P., Rezvani, A. and Wiewiora, A. (2016) ‘The impact of technology on older adults’,
social isolation’, Computers in Human Behavior, October, Vol. 63, pp.594–603.
Khosravi, P., Rezvani, A., Subasinghage, M. and Perera, M. (2012) ‘Individuals’ absorptive
capacity in enterprise system assimilation. In ACIS 2012: Proceedings of the 23rd
Australasian Conference on Information Systems 2012, January, pp.1–7, ACIS.
Koppenjan, J., Veeneman, W., Van der Voort, H., Ten Heuvelhof, E. and Leijten, M. (2011)
‘Competing management approaches in large engineering projects: the Dutch RandstadRail
project’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 29, No. 6, pp.740–750.
Lech, P. (2013) ‘Time, budget and functionality? – IT project success criteria revised’, Information
Systems Management, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.263–275.
Levy, Y. and Ellis, T.J. (2006) ‘A systems approach to conduct an effective literature review in
support of information systems research’, Informing Science: International Journal of an
Emerging Transdiscipline, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.181–212.
Ling, Y. and Lau, B. (2002) ‘A case study on the management of the development of a large-scale
power plant project in East Asia based on design-build arrangement’, International Journal of
Project Management, Vol. 20, No. 6, pp.413–423.
Liu, Z-Z., Zhu, Z-Z., Wang, H-J. and Huang, J. (2016) ‘Handling social risks in government-driven
mega project: an empirical case study from West China’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.202–218.
Locatelli, G. and Mancini, M. (2012) ‘Looking back to see the future: building nuclear power
plants in Europe’, Construction Management and Economics, Vol. 30, No. 8, pp.623–637.
Locatelli, G., Mancini, M. and Romano, E. (2014) ‘Systems engineering to improve the governance
in complex project environments’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 32,
No. 8, pp.1395–1410.
Long, N.D., Ogunlana, S., Quang, T. and Lam, K.C. (2004) ‘Large construction projects in
developing countries: a case study from Vietnam’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 22, No. 7, pp.553–561.
Mazur, A., Pisarski, A., Chang, A. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2014) Rating defence major project
success: the role of personal attributes and stakeholder relationships’, International Journal of
Project Management, Vol. 32, No. 6, pp.944–957.
McManus, J. and Wood-Harper, T. (2007) ‘Software engineering: a quality management
perspective’, The TQM Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.315–327.
Mok, K.Y., Shen, G.Q. and Yang, J. (2015) ‘Stakeholder management studies in mega construction
projects: A review and future directions’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol.
33, No. 2, pp.446–457.
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 17
Morgan, G. and Smircich, L. (1980) ‘The case for qualitative research’, Academy of Management
Review, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp.491–500.
Neuendorf, K.A. (2002) The Content Analysis Guidebook, Sage Publications, California, USA.
Ogunlana, S.O. (2008) ‘Critical COMs of success in large-scale construction projects: evidence
from Thailand construction industry’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26,
No. 4, pp.420–430.
Orlikowski, W.J. and Baroudi, J.J. (1991) ‘Studying information technology in organizations:
Research approaches and assumptions’, Information Systems Research, Vol. 2, No. 1,
pp.1–28.
Patanakul, P. (2014) ‘Managing large-scale IS/IT projects in the public sector: problems and causes
leading to poor performance’, The Journal of High Technology Management Research,
Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.21–35.
Qureshi, S.M. and Kang, C. (2015) ‘Analysing the organizational factors of project complexity
using structural equation modelling’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 33,
No. 1, pp.165–176.
Remington, K. and Pollack, J. (2007) Tools for Complex Projects, Gower Publishing, Ltd, London.
Rezvani, A. (2013) Assessing the Role of Leadership in Continuous Intention of Enterprise
Resource Planning, Doctoral dissertation, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Rezvani, A. (2018). Large Scale Complex Projects – Beyond the ‘Iron Triangle’: An Influence of
Soft Skills on Project Success, Doctoral dissertation, Queensland University of Technology.
Rezvani, A. and Khosravi, P. (2018) ‘A comprehensive assessment of project success
within various large projects’, The Journal of Modern Project Management, Vol. 6, No. 1,
pp.114–122.
Rezvani, A., Barrett, R. and Khosravi, P. (2018a) ‘Investigating the relationships among team
emotional intelligence, trust, conflict and team performance’, Team Performance
Management: An International Journal, Forthcoming.
Rezvani, A., Khosravi, P. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2018b) ‘Examining the interdependencies among
emotional intelligence, trust and performance in infrastructure projects: a multilevel study’,
International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 36, No. 8, pp.1034–1046.
Rezvani, A., Chang, A. and Wiewiora, A. (2015) ‘Emotional intelligence, work attitudes and
project success: an examination among project managers in complex projects’, Proceedings of
the 15th ANZAM Conference.
Rezvani, A., Chang, A. and Wiewiora, A. (2016a) ‘A taxonomy of project barriers in complex
projects’, Proceedings of the 16th Annual Australian and New Zealand Academy of
Management Conference.
Rezvani, A., Chang, A. and Wiewiora, A. (2016b) ‘Project success in complex projects: a
systematic literature review: a systematic literature review’, Proceedings of the 16th Annual
Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference.
Rezvani, A., Chang, A., Wiewiora, A., Ashkanasy, N.M., Jordan, P.J. and Zolin, R. (2016c)
‘Manager emotional intelligence and project success: the mediating role of job satisfaction and
trust’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp.1112–1122.
Rezvani, A., Dong, L. and Khosravi, P. (2017a) ‘Promoting the continuing usage of strategic
information systems: the role of supervisory leadership in the successful implementation of
enterprise systems’, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 37, No. 5,
pp.417–430.
Rezvani, A., Khosravi, P. and Dong, L. (2017b) ‘Motivating users toward continued usage of
information systems: self-determination theory perspective’, Computers in Human Behaviour,
November, Vol. 76, pp.263–275.
Rezvani, A., Khosravi, P. and Ahmad, M.N. (2012a) ‘Assessing the role of transactional and
transformational leadership in continuance intentions of enterprise resource planning’, in
PACIS, p.75.
18
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Rezvani, A., Khosravi, P., Subasinghage, M. and Perera, M. (2012b) ‘How does contingent reward
affect enterprise resource planning continuance intention? The role of contingent reward
transactional leadership’, in Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Conference on Information
Systems 2012, January, pp.1–9.
Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C.M. and Ormston, R. (Eds.) (2013) Qualitative Research Practice:
A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers, Sage Publications London. Thousand
Oaks.
Robinson Fayek, A., Revay, S.O., Rowan, D. and Mousseau, D. (2006) ‘Assessing performance
trends on industrial construction mega projects’, Cost Engineering, Vol. 48, No. 10, pp.16–21.
Rose, J. and Schlichter, B.R. (2013) ‘Decoupling, re-engaging: managing trust relationships in
implementation projects’, Information Systems Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.5–33.
Rust, R.T. and Cooil, B. (1994) ‘Reliability measures for qualitative data: theory and implications’,
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp.31–48.
Savolainen, P., Ahonen, J.J. and Richardson, I. (2012) ‘Software development project success and
failure from the supplier’s perspective: a systematic literature review’, International Journal
of Project Management, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.458–469.
Senescu, R.R., Aranda-Mena, G. and Haymaker, J.R. (2012) ‘Relationships between project
complexity and communication’, Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol. 29, No. 2,
pp.183–197.
Shenhar, A.J., Holzmann, V., Melamed, B. and Zhao, Y. (2016) ‘The challenge of innovation in
highly complex projects: What can we learn from boeing’s dreamliner experience?’, Project
Management Journal, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp.62–78.
Somech, A., Desivilya, H.S. and Lidogoster, H. (2009) ‘Team conflict management and team
effectiveness: The effects of task interdependence and team identification’, Journal of
Organizational Behaviour, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.359–378.
Tai, S., Wang, Y. and Anumba, C. (2009) ‘A survey on communications in large-scale construction
projects in China’, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 16, No. 2,
pp.136–149.
Thamhain, H. (2013) ‘Managing risks in complex projects’, Project Management Journal, Vol. 44,
No. 2, pp.20–35.
Thomas, J. and Mengel, T. (2008) ‘Preparing project managers to deal with complexity – advanced
project management education’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26, No. 3,
pp.304–315.
Toor, S-U-R. and Ogunlana, S.O. (2009a) ‘Construction professionals’ perception of critical
success factors for large-scale construction projects’, Construction Innovation, Vol. 9, No. 2,
pp.149–167.
Toor, S-U-R. and Ogunlana, S. (2009b) ‘Ineffective leadership: Investigating the negative attributes
of leaders and organizational neutralizers’, Engineering, Construction and Architectural
Management, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.254–272.
Toor, S-U-R. and Ogunlana, S.O. (2010) ‘Beyond the ‘iron triangle’: stakeholder perception of key
performance indicators (KPIs) for large-scale public sector development projects’,
International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp.228–236.
Tranfield, D., Denyer, D. and Smart, P. (2003) ‘Towards a methodology for developing evidence
informed management knowledge by means of systematic review’, British Journal of
Management, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.207–222.
Van Marrewijk, A., Clegg, S.R., Pitsis, T.S. and Veenswijk, M. (2008) ‘Managing public-private
megaprojects: paradoxes, complexity and project design’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 26, No. 6, pp.591–600.
Vidal, L.A., Marle, F. and Bocquet, J.C. (2011) ‘Measuring project complexity using the analytic
hierarchy process’, International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 29, No. 6, pp.718–727.
Von Bertalanffy, L. (1968) General System Theory, New York, Vol. 41973, No. 1968, p.40.
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 19
Weihrich, H., Cannice, M. and Koontz, H. (2008): Management – A Global and Entrepreneurial
Perspective, 12th ed., Tata, McGraw Hill, New Delhi.
Williams, T. (2016) ‘Identifying success factors in construction projects: a case study’, Project
Management Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp.97–112.
Yang, J., Shen, G.Q., Ho, M., Drew, D.S. and Xue, X. (2011)Stakeholder management in
construction: an empirical study to address research gaps in previous studies’, International
Journal of Project Management, Vol. 29, No. 7, pp.900–910.
Yau, N-J. and Yang, J-B. (2012) ‘Factors causing design schedule delays in turnkey projects in
Taiwan: an empirical study of power distribution substation projects’, Project Management
Journal, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp.50–61.
Yetton, P., Martin, A., Sharma, R. and Johnston, K. (2000) ‘A model of information systems
development project performance’, Information Systems Journal, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.263–289.
Yu, A.T., Shen, Q., Kelly, J. and Hunter, K. (2006) ‘Investigation of critical success factors in
construction project briefing by way of content analysis’, Journal of Construction Engineering
and Management, Vol. 132, No. 11, pp.1178–1186.
Phua, F.T. and Rowlinson, S. (2004) ‘How important is cooperation to construction project
success? A grounded empirical quantification’, Engineering, Construction and Architectural
Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.45–54.
Chang, C.Y. (2013) ‘Understanding the hold-up problem in the management of megaprojects:
the case of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project’, International Journal of Project
Management, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp.628–637.
Appendix
Table A1 Full list of failure factors and related categories
Factors/categories Literature
Organisational
Poor communication/relationship with
stakeholders
Hui et al. (2008), Yau and Yang (2012), Toor and
Ogunlana (2009b), Tai et al. (2009), Thamhain
(2013), Ling and Lau (2002), Van Marrewijk
et al. (2008), Janssen et al. (2015)
Lack of organisational structure Tai et al. (2009)
Lack of uniform standards for
information
Toor and Ogunlana (2009b)
Lack of access to relevant information Dimitriou et al. (2013)
Changing organisational priorities Thamhain (2013)
Disproportionate focus on policy setting Hall et al. (2012)
Excessive and misplaced trust in
commercial partners
Hall et al. (2012)
Use of unproven vendors Robinson Fayek et al. (2006)
Change management Anthopoulos et al. (2016)
Organisational complexity Chang (2013)
Lack of learning from project Yu et al. (2005)
Outsourcing structures where owner firms
do not maintain high levels of dominance
over the activities
Hui et al. (2008)
20
A
. Rezvani and P. Khosravi
Table A1 Full list of failure factors and related categories (continued)
Factors/categories Literature
Project personnel
Incompetent and ineffective leader and
project manager
Patanakul (2014), Toor and Ogunlana (2009b),
Thamhain (2013)
Poor risk management Alshawi et al. (2012), Hall et al. (2012)
Poor project control Koppenjan et al. (2011), Anthopoulos et al.
(2016)
Lack of management commitment Thamhain (2013)
Wrongful use of power Toor and Ogunlana (2009b)
Poor operation management Phua and Rowlinson (2004)
Lack of top management support Rezvani et al. (2016a)
Instability of project team Yetton et al. (2000), Thamhain (2013),
Anthopoulos et al. (2016)
Conflict in project team Yetton et al. (2000), Thamhain (2013)
Lack of trust to team members Rezvani et al. (2016c)
Unqualified engineers Alshawi et al. (2012)
Lack of team work experience Toor and Ogunlana (2009b)
Project design and implementation
Poor planning/ unclear initial
requirements
Alshawi et al. (2012), Patanakul (2014), Hall
et al. (2012), Locatelli and Mancini (2012),Yau
and Yang (2012), Flyvbjerg (2008),Van
Marrewijk et al. (2008)
Redesign/rework/changing project
requirements
Anthopoulos et al. (2016), Akkermans and
Van Oorschot(2016), Lech (2013), Thamhain
(2013), Ling and Lau (2002), Giezen (2012), Han
et al. (2009), Anthopoulos et al. (2016), Shenhar
et al. (2016), Akkermans and van Oorschot(2016)
, Janssen et al. (2015)
Ineffective response plan Patanakul (2014), Frinsdorf et al. (2014)
Inaccuracy of project information Ling and Lau (2002)
Inadequate business process model Hall et al. (2012)
Inadequate security measures for the
eventual operation of the scheme
Hall et al. (2012)
Political/legal
Governmental processes Alshawi et al. (2012), Yau andYang (2012)
Undervaluation/changing of regulation
requirements
Locatelli and Mancini (2012), Thamhain (2013)
Lack of coordination with local
governments
Alshawi et al. (2012)
Political intervention Yau andYang (2012)
Lack of political antennae Van Marrewijk et al. (2008)
I
dentification of failure factors in large scale complex projects 21
Table A1 Full list of failure factors and related categories (continued)
Factors/categories Literature
Technical and financial
Price increments Alshawi et al. (2012),Thamhain (2013)
Unavailability of resources Alshawi et al. (2012), Shenhar et al. (2016),
Frinsdorf et al. (2014)
Difficulty in land acquisition or site
availability
Liu et al. (2016)
Changing market or customer needs Thamhain (2013)
Technical difficulties Yetton et al. (2000), Thamhain (2013), Khosravi
et al. (2016)
System complexity Brookes and Locatelli (2015), Davies and
Mackenzie (2014)
Newness of the project Locatelli and Mancini (2012), Robinson Fayek
et al. (2006), Khosravi et al.(2013)
Inappropriate scheduling tools Han et al. (2009)
Technology change Han et al. (2009), Khosravi et al. (2012)
Incorrect installations Shenhar et al. (2016)
Software delay Shenhar et al. (2016)
Contractual
Contractual disputes Alshawi et al. (2012), Patanakul (2014)
Complexity in managing contract Janssen et al. (2015)
... What is crucial however is the fact that in spite of a rapid advancement in the project management tools and techniques the rate of projects which fail is very high [19]. This refers to all types of projects including large scale projects [20]. From this point of view it is crucial to recognize factors co-responsible for projects success or failure. ...
Article
Full-text available
Project management has the potential to play a key role in the effective functioning of a company. In spite of the intensive development of project management knowledge and tools, however, the ratio of projects which fail is still very high. For the above reason, interest in research dedicated to project success determinants has been increasing. Although existing empirical studies provide numerous evidence on project key-success factors, rrelatively little research has been devoted to examination of project culture in the context of its impact on the final results of projects. The study’s objective entails analysis of how project culture mediates the relationship between project characteristics and project outcome. For this purpose, a questionnaire has been developed, which was distributed among 138 project managers representing Polish enterprises. A theoretical model has been proposed, linking project attributes and project culture to project outcome. The results of the empirical studies indicate that inclusion of project culture, with special attention paid to its openness, significantly contributes to the clarification of the way project attributes affect project outcome.
Article
Introduction. The article analyzes the determinants that condition the incorporation of public buildings into capital repair and reconstruction plans (CRR plan). These include the technical condition of a facility, specified in an expert opinion and identified on the basis of the survey results, the duration of effective operation, determined in accordance with guideline values, the work performance time, the availability of the engineering and transport infrastructure, and other factors. Materials and methods. The co-authors formulated fuzzy inference rules and compiled a table of expert opinions issued on their basis. To implement the fuzzy inference procedure, the co-authors applied the Mamdani algorithm, the min-conjunction for aggregating indicators, the max-disjunction for accumulating conclusions, and the centre of gravity method to ensure defuzzification. The Editor of Fuzzy Output Systems of the MatLab package is used to implement the proposed fuzzy inference pattern. The Saati hierarchy method is used to design membership functions (FP). The analysis of literature sources did not identify any works in which fuzzy logic methods or fuzzy inference rules were used to plan the CRR of public buildings. Results. Membership functions for all factors and the final indicator on the selected scale, corresponding to the Harrington desirability function in the range of values [0; 100], are designed. The results of the implementation of the proposed fuzzy inference system in the MatLab environment are presented in the form of graphs and numerical values of all input linguistic variables. Conclusions. Fuzzy inference allows to obtain the numerical value of the integral repair potential that underlies an informed decision about the incorporation of a facility into the CRR plan. The strength of the approach is the modifiability and expandability of the rule base in practical work. The proposed planning tool allows to consider a combination of principal factors, cut costs, reduce the time frame and improve the public building repair quality.
Article
Full-text available
Background The construction companies need to maintain their success levels to survive in the competitive business environment. The concept of just-in-time plays a significant role to reduce the costs and fulfill the needs of valued customers. Objective The study aims to evaluate the role of honest customer services that are provided to the construction companies in Saudi Arabia. Methods The study has used a case study approach to analyze the role of on-time and honest customer services in the success of small construction companies. Interviews were conducted to gather details and characteristics of the associated company. It mainly focused on the interactions and behaviors of participants, rather than calculations. Results The results have provided a great understanding of the success of construction companies based on success factors. The organizational culture, delayed schedule, required quantity, and just-in-time purchasing are amongst the exceptional and highly effective factors on just-in-time delivery and customer experience. Moreover, organizing and planning were considered to be important factors contributing to company success. Conclusion There is a strong association between the delivery of honest customer services and the success of construction companies in Saudi Arabia.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of the study is to enhance understanding of the relationships among team emotional intelligence (EI), trust in team, conflict in team and team performance. Design/methodology/approach A sample of 389 team members from 84 project teams in large-scale construction projects was surveyed. Findings Findings showed that team EI is positively associated with team performance. In addition, trust and conflict in the team mediate the association between team EI and team performance. Practical implications The ability to perceive one’s own and others’ emotions significantly increases the likelihood of team performance by increasing trust in a team and reducing conflict. Therefore, managers can use these findings to boost team performance and reduce conflict in their teams. Originality/value This research contributes to the better understanding of the relationship between team EI and team performance in large-scale construction projects. In addition, this research is an empirical investigation into the mediation variables linking EI to team performance.
Article
Full-text available
Regardless of the calls for a distinction between individual and team levels of analysis, studies regarding the multiple-level analysis of emotional intelligence are lacking in the project management literature. This research aims to address this shortcoming by examining the relationships between emotional intelligence, trust, and performance through multilevel analysis. Data were derived from 408 participants from 89 project teams in the large scale projects through three different surveys. We used hierarchical linear modeling and we found that emotional intelligence relates positively to performance and to trust at different levels of analysis. We also found that, at the team level, trust does not mediate the relationship between emotional intelligence and project team performance. This research offers a more realistic and comprehensive picture of the management and recognition of emotional intelligence in teams and individuals concurrently and addresses the implications for project leaders of inspiring individuals and teams.
Article
Full-text available
Large scale projects are important drivers of social change. Even when operations follow best practices there are serious challenges, which all too often lead to failure in large scale projects. However, while large scale project success and fail- ure have been widely studied there is no comparison of pro- ject success in large scale projects across different types of projects. This study reveals project success factors in the con- text of large scale projects by analysing 30 articles. This re- view systematically identifies and compares project success factors in three types of large scale projects: construction/in- frastructure, aerospace/defense, and information technology. The paper offers practitioners and researchers a more com- prehensive understanding of success in managing large scale projects and useful recommendations for future research.
Article
Full-text available
The number of complex projects is increasing across many sectors and the associated challenges are substantial. Using a field study we aim to understand how project managers' emotional intelligence (EI) contributes to project success. We propose and test a model linking EI to project success and examine the mediating effects of project managers' job satisfaction and trust on this relationship. Based on data collected from 373 project managers in the Australian defence industry, our results indicate that EI has a positive impact on project success, job satisfaction, and trust. Moreover, we found evidence that job satisfaction and trust mediate the relationship between EI and project success. Our findings suggest that top management should be aware of the importance of project managers' job satisfaction and trust, which can both serve to boost project success in complex project situations.
Article
Continued usage of new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems has plagued organizations that intend to maximize long-term benefits from their ERP investments. Leadership behavior is widely regarded as one of the key influences for motivating ERP users toward using the system. This study investigates how direct supervisors’ leadership styles influence ERP users’ motivation to continuously engage with the ERP system. We employed self-determination theory (SDT) and the post-acceptance model of information systems to propose a conceptual model theorizing how transformational and transactional leadership styles affect users’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which in turn impacts ERP continuance intentions through user satisfaction and perceived usefulness. Our research model was empirically examined using data collected from 299 ERP users. Our findings have revealed that transformational leadership motivates ERP users differently than transactional leadership, and that user satisfaction and perceived usefulness are salient predictors of ERP continuance intentions. In addition, our research demonstrates a critical role of direct managers’ leadership styles in the ERP post-implementation phase. Important theoretical contributions and significant implications for practice are discussed.
Article
Organizations face significant challenges in capturing value from their investments in strategic information systems such as enterprise systems (ES). Managers are a powerful source of influence shaping the post-adoption attitudes and behaviors of users and the success of ES. However, the extant IS literature has focused primarily on the role of top management and theoretical explanations of the role of supervisors in fostering continuing usage of ES are lacking. Drawing on transformational leadership theory and the IS continuance (ISC) model, this paper conceptualizes a theoretical model differentiating the influence mechanisms through which different types of leadership behaviors influence the success of ES. Data collected from 192 users of ES confirms our theorization. We find that transformational leadership behaviors of supervisors influence users’ evaluations of satisfaction and perceived usefulness, while their transactional leadership behaviors influence users’ ES continuance intention by moderating the effects of user satisfaction and perceived usefulness on ES continuance intention. This study advances research on the role of leadership behaviors of supervisors in capturing value from enterprise systems. The research also contributes to practice by suggesting effective strategies for promoting continued usage of mission critical systems such as enterprise systems and delivering value from firms’ IT investments.
Book
After collecting qualitative data from in-depth interviews, focus groups, or field observations, students and researchers often struggle to make sense of it. This step-by-step guide draws on the authors' many years of experience carrying out qualitative research and conducting trainings on the subject. Their book describes how to analyze qualitative data in a systematic and rigorous way. The authors introduce and outline applied thematic analysis, an inductive approach that draws on established and innovative theme-based techniques suited to the applied research context. Chapters follow the sequence of activities in the analysis process and also include discussions of mixed methods, choosing the most appropriate software, and how to write up and present the results. "This book presents what all of the books I've tried to use in the past have failed to present—how to analyze qualitative data."—Catherine C. Schifter, Temple University "This book does a wonderful job of explaining how important thematic analysis is for producing good research, and it uses rich and detailed examples to do it."—Matthew Hartley, University of Pennsylvania
Article
Research indicates that social isolation and loneliness have a negative effect on health and wellbeing among older people. Various technology-based interventions have been offered to reduce social isolation; however, research demonstrating the role of various types of technologies and their effectiveness in dealing with social isolation among seniors is scarce. This study undertakes a systematic literature review of empirical studies on various types of technologies and their effectiveness in alleviating social isolation among seniors. Relevant electronic databases were searched and through 6886 initial set of studies published from 2000 to 2015 we have found eight different technologies that have been applied to alleviate social isolation, namely, general ICT, video game, robotics, personal reminder information and social management system, asynchronous peer support chat room, social network sites, Telecare and 3D virtual environment. We further evaluated the effectiveness of the technologies with social isolation among seniors. Findings show that technologies can be used to reduce social isolation among seniors. However, more studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of new technologies.