thesis_bramkool.

thesis_bramkool.
TOWARDS PERCEPTION-BASED MANAGEMENT
OF COMPLEXITY IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
MSc Thesis Bram Kool | 1303007 | Construction Management & Engineering | December 2013
Towards perception-based management of complexity in construction projects
Master thesis
Construction Management and Engineering
Delft University of Technology
Abram Kool | 1303007 | kool.bram@gmail.com
Graduation committee
Prof.dr.ir. M.J.C.M. Hertogh | DUT, Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Dr.ir. M.G.C. Bosch-Rekveldt | DUT, Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Dr. W.W. Veeneman | DUT, Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Ir. M. Kraneveld | Kennis in het Groot (KING)
Sources illustrations title page:
graffititechnica.com & design mind
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary„
- Vince Lombardi
Preface
My master programme Construction Management and Engineering had a strong focus on
the management of complex projects. But I always wondered: what are complex projects?
The term was often used, both in education and in practice, to classify projects and
processes but it never became clear to me what made these projects ‘complex’. When I saw
the application for a graduate research on this topic I immediately knew that this research
could fill this knowledge gap; and it did.
Another side of the research that I found very attractive was the overlap with other
knowledge areas outside the technical spectrum. If there is one thing that I have learned
from my Masters it is the strength of multidisciplinary knowledge and teams.
This research therefore borrowed some ideas of other knowledge fields and was conducted
at the edge of what can be considered as a topic for a thesis from a technical university: it
was and still is my opinion that the road towards well performing projects can only be
paved by combining multiple knowledge areas (especially alpha- and beta-disciplines) and
thereby creating multidisciplinary knowledge.
This research would not have been possible without the excellent supervision of my
graduation committee and I would like to thank them for their contribution to this thesis.
Marian, not only were you able to make lots of time available but you were also able to
provide excellent feedback and you were an exceptionally good sounding board for my
ideas and questions. Maarten, your enthusiastic feedback motivated me to deliver the best
results possible and your practical insights guided me through some very difficult topics.
Wijnand, your contributions during committee meetings were critical and therefore helpful
and Marcel, thank you for the feedback that you delivered during the research.
A special thanks goes to all the 30 interviewees; I must admit that it was a tough job to
travel thousands of kilometres around the country during an excellent and very hot summer
but it turned out to be worth it: not only did I receive enough data to perform my research,
I also gained insights into the miraculous world of construction projects from all different
kind of angles. This made the research both interesting and fun at the same time!
I also would like to thank all people working at KING/RPA that helped me with the research,
especially with the practical organisation: I could not have pulled of 30 interviews without
your help and it was a unique experience to be able to present my findings during the café
college, thank you for that opportunity!
And last but not least I would like to thank Jeroen, Nicole, Karen and Carla for taking the
time to review this thesis: it is nice to know that at least four people besides the graduation
committee read this thesis.
Bram Kool
The Hague, December 2013
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Summary
Introduction
Project complexity is a phenomenon which is often accused of being the cause for project
failure in large construction projects. It is also believed that complexity within these
projects is growing which leads to great challenges for the management of these projects.
Construction practitioners have different perceptions on complexity within large
construction projects. Practitioners from the same project or even the same organisation
can have totally differing perceptions when it comes to project complexity. These different
perceived complexities have appeared in research that focussed on the operationalisation of
project complexity (i.e. the assessment of project complexity in real projects). The
identification of these different perceived complexities led to questions on the origins of
these perceived complexities and their consequences.
This research contributed to the management sciences of project management within large
construction projects. Its objectives were to identify the different sources of perceived
complexities, the implications of different perceived complexities for the project
performance of large construction projects and the implications for project management
within these projects.
The research furthermore elaborated on interventions dealing with project complexity in
order to see if perceived complexities influenced project performance via the interventions.
Interventions can be seen as actions that practitioners apply in order to deal with project
complexity and that have the objective to influence this complexity.
The research was initiated by Kennis In Het Groot (KING) and the Rijksprojectacademie
(RPA). These two organisations are knowledge institutes within the construction sector and
aim to exchange knowledge between construction projects and to create new knowledge
that helps these projects. They recently started the research on ‘project complexity in the
Dutch construction sector’ as an application of this knowledge creation.
That research was designed and executed by Bosch-Rekveldt (2013) from the Delft
University of Technology. She described the project complexity of construction projects in
general terms and also identified different perceived complexities within projects: this
identification requested a follow-up research since they were only identified, not explained.
This thesis is the follow-up research on the research of Bosch-Rekveldt and contributes to
the research of ‘project complexity in the Dutch construction sector’.
Literature
A literature study was conducted for three reasons: (1) to see what is known about project
complexity and how this research would embed within current knowledge; (2) to see how
this research could describe perceived complexities in a meaningful way and (3) to see
what is known about dealing with project complexity and how this research could confirm or
reject these existing theories. These three topics will be elaborated below.
Literature defines project complexity with general terms and acknowledges the split
between complicated and complex: complicated refers to the many components of a project
that interrelate and complex refers to the unexpected things that happen due to this
interrelation. Complex projects are believed to be complicated and complex at the same
time.
Recent authors have exerted to operationalise this definition to make it useable in practice:
they designed frameworks to assess the project complexity in construction projects. One of
these authors is Bosch-Rekveldt (2011) who developed the TOE-framework: it uses 57
Technical, Organisational and External elements to assess project complexity and to make a
complexity footprint of a specific project.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
This research contributed to the literature that has the objective to operationalise the
definition of project complexity. It supports a better understanding of the assessments of
complexity within projects: by understanding how a perceived complexity is constructed by
practitioners it is better understood how the assessment of project complexity by
practitioners takes place.
This research used an adapted version of the Brunswik Lens Model (Brunswik, 1952) in
order to describe the different perceived complexities of practitioners. This model is used to
describe how organisms perceive their environment: they do so by selecting certain cues
(i.e. components) of the environment and judge these cues which lead to a judgement on
the environment. This research showed that the TOE-elements can function as cues that
practitioners select and judge in order to come to their judgement on project complexity:
this is their perceived complexity.
Literature identifies two approaches to deal with project complexity: the control-approach
and the hands-off-approach. Theory argues that a combination of the two approaches
results in the most effective approach to deal with project complexity. A management
approach uses certain interventions to bring the approach into practice.
This research used the model of Best et al. (2013) to identify the specific interventions in
practice.
They distinct controlling interventions (aimed at controlling the project),
connecting interventions (aimed to connect people and thoughts) and actuating
interventions (aimed to push someone towards an action or decision). Controlling
interventions contribute to the control-approach, connecting interventions to the hands-offapproach and the actuating interventions to both.
Methodology
The research can be seen as descriptive, explanatory and exploratory and uses an inductive
approach based on qualitative data. Internal validation was done with triangulation,
explanation building and sensitising concepts. External validation was done with literature
and an expert meeting.
The research design consisted of an embedded multiple-case study. Five construction
projects from the KING/RPA network were selected and functioned as cases; they
contributed a total of 30 interviewees. These respondents were first asked to assess project
complexity with a survey based on the TOE-framework (this survey was already designed
by Bosch-Rekveldt). This survey resulted in three elements that were the most contributing
elements to the complexity of the project according to the respondent. In-depth interviews
were used to understand this top-3-list, its origins, its consequences and the way it was
handled by the respondent.
The interview minutes were transformed with the help of descriptive research into three
secondary data-sources: (1) case reports which provided an overview of all respondents
within one case; (2) descriptions of the perceived complexities based on the adapted lens
model and (3) a list of distilled interventions dealing with complexity.
Explanations for perceived complexities and their implications were found with the help of
explanation building.
The results of the research were internally validated by confronting the participating project
managers of the five cases with the results. They were also externally validated with
literature and an expert meeting consisting of a debate on the findings of this thesis and in
which approximately 30 construction practitioners participated.
Results
The five cases showed that there is a gap between the definitions of project complexity
provided by theory and by practitioners: practitioners tend to base their perceived
complexity on their degree of influence on project complexity and their perceived
complexities can be split in either problem-focussed or challenge-focussed. This definition
differs greatly from the definition provided by theory (based interrelating components which
do so unexpected).
The five cases also showed a possible positive correlation between different perceived
complexities and project performance: this led to the proposition that differing perceived
complexities lead to better project performance than non-differing perceived complexities.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The data analysis led to an identification of origins of perceived complexities, an overview of
applied interventions dealing with project complexity and a detailed description of
implications of different perceived complexities. All three will be elaborated below.
A perceived complexity is created by the selection of certain elements of project complexity
followed by a judgement of these elements (the elements are in this case the TOE-elements
mentioned earlier). The sum of these separate judgements forms the perceived complexity.
This research indicated four different sources for perceived complexities and these sources
either contribute to the selection of TOE-elements or to the judgement of the TOEelements.
Three of these four sources contribute to the selection of certain TOE-elements by
practitioners to build a perceived complexity upon. These three sources are: (1) the
perceived impact of an element and the influence of the practitioner on that element; (2)
the experience of the practitioner and (3) the context of a project or contextual variables.
The fourth source contributes to the judgement of the TOE-elements: (4) the interests of
the practitioner, which is in its turn influenced by the role and/or personal values.
These four sources all contribute in a certain degree to a perceived complexity but the
contribution of each source can differ for each individual practitioner.
The list of encountered interventions dealing with project complexity was reflected against
literature. This confirmed theories in their statement that practitioners apply a mix of
connecting and controlling interventions. These two types of interventions contribute to the
control-approach and the hands-off-approach. It was however also found that connecting
interventions were sometimes used to enable controlling interventions and vice versa. This
cross-application of intervention-types enabling other types has not been mentioned in
researched theories and seems to be an addition to current literature.
The relation between perceived complexities and interventions dealing with complexity was
also researched: it was found that there is a relation between them but the details of this
relation were not found. It remains unclear if certain perceived complexities lead to certain
interventions or that certain interventions (or: the feeling of influence) lead to certain
perceived complexities. This is a topic for further research.
Different perceived complexities can contribute negatively to project performance if they
remain unmanaged but they contribute positively to project performance if they are
managed: the management of perceived complexities is referred to as perception-based
management and this research argues that this perception-based management should
become one of the core focuses in managing project complexity within large construction
projects.
Interventions dealing with complexity were often applied in order to manage the
collaboration with another party. This research acknowledged the Project Delivery
Organisation, the contractor, the civil principals and the local stakeholders and advised the
Project Delivery Organisation in the way they could manage their collaboration with these
role-groups. This resulted in the following recommendations:
 Steer on a clear mandate from civil principals. This mandate must provide enough
time, budget and space to execute the project.
 Connect to the local stakeholders instead of controlling them. PDOs apply too often a
controlling approach. This controlling approach tries to manage the stakeholders but
does not engage them in a connecting and fully transparent way: local stakeholders are
not being truly involved in the project with the controlling approach. This is however
desired and this research showed that the connecting approach is much more effective
in increasing project performance.
 Connect to the contractor but control if necessary. The contractor needs a connecting
approach but if the contractor fails to meet demands and expectations it should be
engage with a much more controlling approach.
The research also found interventions dealing with project complexity that were mentioned
by a large number of respondents: they were seen as general interventions to manage
overall complexity. Five general interventions were mentioned: (1) interact physically with
each other; (2) separate roles within organisations and individual people; (3) build informal
networks to enable acting between rules and protocols; (4) find adequate people and (5)
apply perception-based management.
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Perception-based management is the management approach which focuses itself on the
different perceived complexities of all involved practitioners. This research found four
different ways of dealing with different perceived complexities: they can be ignored,
eliminated, controlled or exploited. The latter two, control and exploitation, are part of the
same model since first perceived complexities need to be controlled before they can be
exploited. It is believed that this combination leads to the most improved project
performance.
It consists of two stages: first all involved people have to agree on a shared mental model
which centralises projects’ interests and indicates the shared objectives of the project. Then
all practitioners have to bring the shared mental model into action by basing their actions
on the shared mental model.
Perception-based management contributes to project performance in two different ways: it
contributes to a good collaboration with the shared mental model and it uses the untapped
knowledge of all practitioners to apply project learning. This project learning is necessary
because of the emergent and unpredictable character of large construction projects: they
cannot be predicted and therefore need to be learned with the help of project learning.
This research acknowledged three principals that contribute to the application of
perception-based management:
 Create the appropriate preconditions. These preconditions consist of awareness, the
right ambiance, a good mandate from civil principals, the right kind of people and
awareness of the consequences of certain contract types.
 Create a shared mental model. This shared mental model contains the common project
goals and shared norms & values. It is used to give direction to the actions of the
individuals within the project.
 Focus on project learning. Practitioners must feel free to question the shared mental
model and thereby reshape the shared mental model. This enables the use of untapped
knowledge (unknown knowns) because practitioners can continuously apply their
knowledge by questioning the shared mental model. Perceived complexities can
furthermore be used in applications of project management such as Building
Information Modelling or Joint Risk Finding.
This description of perception-based management assumes awareness and respect for
different perceived complexities. These assumptions were validated and confirmed in the
expert meeting but this expert meeting also indicated that it was sometimes necessary to
impose a perceived complexity to others for the sake of progress. This immediately shows a
possible drawback of perception-based management: it might become too time-consuming.
When to impose and when to apply perception-based management is a topic for further
research: this research did not collect the right type of data to answer this question.
Another important limitation of this research was present in the explorative nature of it: the
outcomes of this research lack sufficient data to formulate sound conclusions. The outcomes
are therefore merely strong hypotheses which can lead to further research.
Yet another limitation was the representativeness of the cases for the Dutch construction
industry: because all cases were member of the KING/RPA network they were more than
average interested in new developments in the construction industry. The selected cases
are therefore likely to be the ‘top notch’ of project management which could have led to a
more promising current situation than average.
The last limitation is the lack of attention for strategic behaviour of actors; this could
influence perception-based management severely but the data did not provide enough data
to determine this influence.
Three directions for further research have been formulated:
 The relation between improved project performance and perception-based
management. This research led to the hypothesis that project performance is positively
influenced by perception-based management but future research must quantify and
determine this relation. A case study can be designed to see if project performance and
perception-based management are positively correlated. This would first need a more
detailed description of perception-based management. This description can then be
used to identify the applied type of perception-based management within the
researched cases (ignorance, eliminating, controlling or exploiting) and to which degree
they do so. The influence of strategic behaviour of individuals should also be regarded
in this more detailed description.
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By eventually linking the type and degree of perception-based management to project
performance (which should be derived quantitative using an existing and proved
method), it can be determined if the two concepts are indeed positively correlated.
 The origins of perceived complexities. This research found at least four sources and
also proved that different sources contribute in different degrees to a perceived
complexity. Future research can determine this contribution and use the used lens
model more sophisticated to statistically prove the sources for the selection and
judgement of TOE-elements. This would require a more detailed design of the lens
model which is supported with statistical methods. Practitioners that function as units
of analysis should be selected based on their role: by comparing practitioners with
identical roles in different projects the research can determine the influence of the role
of a practitioner.
 Dealing with project complexity. This research confirmed the existing theories that the
management of project complexity must use a combination of the control-approach and
the hands-off-approach. The cross-application of interventions between these two
approaches and the question how practitioners can balance this approach, especially
towards specific actor-groups, can be a topic for future research. This would require a
case study in which projects that are already finished participate: it can then be
reconstructed how project complexity was perceived, managed and what the objectives
and actual effects of these interventions were.
This research could at the same time research the relation between perceived
complexities and applied interventions dealing with complexity: this research showed
that there is a relation but it does not understand the specifics of this relation.
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Samenvatting
Introductie
Projectcomplexiteit wordt vaak aangewezen als één van de hoofdoorzaken van het falen
van grote bouwprojecten. Daarnaast is de heersende opvatting dat projectcomplexiteit
binnen dit soort projecten groeit: dit heeft consequenties voor het management van deze
projecten.
Professionals in de bouw hebben verschillende percepties over de projectcomplexiteit.
Mensen die aan hetzelfde project werken, soms zelfs vanuit dezelfde organisatie, kunnen
totaal verschillende percepties hebben over de projectcomplexiteit binnen het project. Deze
verschillende percepties zijn aan het licht gekomen in onderzoek dat zich richt op het
operationaliseren van projectcomplexiteit: dit onderzoek beoordeelt de complexiteit binnen
bestaande bouwprojecten. De identificatie van deze verschillende percepties over
projectcomplexiteit heeft tot vragen geleid over deze verschillen en hun gevolgen.
Dit onderzoek heeft bijgedragen aan management wetenschap die zich concentreert op het
project management van grote bouw projecten. Het doel was om de verschillende bronnen
van percepties over projectcomplexiteit te ontdekken, de consequenties van deze
verschillende percepties te beschrijven en de consequenties voor project management
binnen deze projecten aan te geven.
Het onderzoek heeft zich daarnaast ook geconcentreerd op de interventies die worden
toegepast om om te gaan met projectcomplexiteit: het is onderzocht of verschillende
percepties over projectcomplexiteit invloed hebben op de interventies die professionals
toepassen om om te gaan met projectcomplexiteit en die tot doel hebben om de
projectcomplexiteit te beïnvloeden.
Het onderzoek werd geïnitieerd door Kennis in het Groot (KING) en de Rijksprojectacademie
(RPA). Deze twee organisaties zijn kennisinstituten in de bouwsector en hebben tot doel om
kennis tussen bouwprojecten uit te wisselen en nieuwe kennis te genereren die deze
projecten verder helpt. Binnen dit kader hebben zij recentelijk het onderzoek naar
projectcomplexiteit in de Nederlandse bouw gestart.
Dat onderzoek is ontworpen en uitgevoerd door Bosch-Rekveldt (2013) van de Technische
Universiteit Delft. Zij heeft projectcomplexiteit in de bouw in algemene lijnen beschreven en
ook heeft zij verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit geïdentificeerd en
beschreven: hieruit kwam de vraag naar vervolgonderzoek voort omdat het onderzoek de
gepercipieerde complexiteiten alleen kon beschrijven en niet verklaren. Deze thesis is het
vervolgonderzoek op dat onderzoek van Bosch-Rekveldt en draagt daarmee bij aan het
grotere onderzoek naar projectcomplexiteit in de Nederlandse bouw.
Literatuur
Literatuuronderzoek werd gedaan omwille van drie redenen: (1) om te zien wat er bekend
is over projectcomplexiteit en hoe dit onderzoek binnen die bestaande kennis past, (2) om
te onderzoeken hoe percepties over projectcomplexiteit op een doordachte wijze
omschreven konden worden en (3) om te weten wat er bekend is over de omgang met
projectcomplexiteit en of dit onderzoek die theorieën zou bevestigen of verwerpen. Alle drie
de onderwerpen worden hieronder behandeld.
Literatuur definieert projectcomplexiteit in globale termen en erkent het verschillen tussen
gecompliceerd en complex: de term gecompliceerd refereert naar de vele componenten van
een project die met elkaar in relatie staan, de term complex refereert naar de onverwachte
dingen die gebeuren naar aanleiding van deze relatie. Complexe projecten zijn beide
gecompliceerd en complex.
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Recente auteurs hebben zich ingespannen om deze definitie werkbaar te maken voor de
praktijk: zij hebben raamwerken ontworpen om de projectcomplexiteit in bouwprojecten te
kunnen beoordelen. Eén van deze auteurs is Bosch-Rekveldt (2011) en zij heeft het TOEframework ontworpen: dit raamwerk maakt gebruik van 57 elementen, verdeeld over de
categorieën Technisch, Organisatorisch en Extern, om de complexiteit in een project te
beoordelen en zodoende de complexiteitsvoetafdruk van een project te bepalen.
Dit onderzoek draagt bij aan die literatuur die tot doel heeft om de definitie van
projectcomplexiteit te operationaliseren. Het leidt tot een beter begrip van de
beoordelingen van projectcomplexiteit binnen bouwprojecten: door beter te begrijpen hoe
een perceptie over projectcomplexiteit tot stand komt kan beter verklaard worden hoe een
beoordeling door individuen van projectcomplexiteit precies plaatsvindt.
Dit onderzoek heeft een aangepaste versie van het lens model van Brunswik (1952)
gebruikt om de percepties over projectcomplexiteit van individuen te beschrijven. Het
model is gebruikt om te beschrijven hoe een organisme zijn omgeving percipieert: dat doen
ze door bepaalde signalen (dus: projectonderdelen) van een omgeving te selecteren en die
vervolgens te beoordelen. Deze beoordelingen leiden vervolgens tot een totale beoordeling
van de projectcomplexiteit binnen bouwprojecten. Dit onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat de
TOE-elementen gezien kunnen worden als deze ‘signalen’ die individuen selecteren en
beoordelen om tot hun oordeel over de projectcomplexiteit te komen: dit is hun perceptie
over projectcomplexiteit.
In de literatuur worden er twee manieren geïdentificeerd om om te gaan met
projectcomplexiteit: de controlerende aanpak en de vertrouwende aanpak. Het wordt
bepleit dat een combinatie van beide methoden een effectieve manier is om om te gaan
met projectcomplexiteit. Deze methode wordt in de praktijk gebracht door middel van
interventies.
Dit onderzoek gebruikt het model van Best et al. (2013) om specifieke interventies die de
praktijk gebruikt te identificeren. Zij onderscheiden controlerende interventies (met als doel
om het project te controleren), verbindende interventies (met als doel om mensen en
ideeën te verbinden) en bedienende interventies (met als doel om iemand richting een actie
of besluit te bewegen). Controlerende interventies corresponderen met de controlerende
aanpak, verbindende elementen met de vertrouwende aanpak. Bedienende interventies
dragen bij aan beide aanpakken.
Methodologie
Het onderzoek is beschrijvend, verklarend en verkennend en maakt gebruikt van een
inductieve aanpak gebaseerd op kwalitatieve data. Interne validatie gebeurde middels
triangulatie, systematische constructie van verklaringen en het gebruik van gevoelsmatige
keuzes gebaseerd op de dataset. Externe validatie gebeurde middels een expert
bijeenkomst.
Het onderzoek maakt gebruikt van een geïntegreerde meervoudige case studie. Vijf
bouwprojecten van het KING/RPA netwerk werden geselecteerd en functioneerden als
cases: in totaal hebben zij 30 geïnterviewden aangedragen voor het onderzoek. Deze
respondenten is eerst gevraagd om een enquête in te vullen die gebaseerd was op het TOEframework (deze enquête is ontworpen door Bosch-Rekveldt). Deze enquête resulteerde in
drie elementen die de respondent als meest bijdragend aan de projectcomplexiteit
percipieerde: een persoonlijke top-3 dus. Diepte interviews zijn vervolgens afgenomen om
deze top-3 te begrijpen: zowel de oorsprong als de consequenties als de manier waarop de
respondent omging met deze drie elementen.
De notulen van de interviews zijn vervolgens verwerkt in drie secundaire data bronnen
middels beschrijvend onderzoek: (1) project verslagen die een overzicht gaven van alle
respondenten binnen eenzelfde case, (2) beschrijvingen van de percepties over
projectcomplexiteit gebaseerd op het ontworpen lens model en (3) een lijst van gebruikte
interventies om om te gaan met projectcomplexiteit.
De uitleg voor de verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit en hun consequenties
werd geformuleerd met behulp van het systematisch construeren van een verklaring.
De resultaten zijn intern gevalideerd door de resultaten voor te leggen aan de deelnemende
projectmanagers. De resultaten zijn ook extern gevalideerd binnen de literatuur en een
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expert bijeenkomst. Deze bijeenkomst bestond uit een debat over de resultaten en werd
bijgewoond door ongeveer 30 professionals uit de bouwsector.
Resultaten
De vijf onderzochte casussen laten zien dat er een verschil zit in de definitie van
projectcomplexiteit zoals die gebruikt wordt door de theorie en door de praktijk: de
professionals in de bouw baseren hun definitie op de mate van invloed die zij hebben op de
projectcomplexiteit
en
hebben
ofwel
een
probleemgeoriënteerde
ofwel
een
uitdaginggeoriënteerde perceptie. Deze definitie verschilt in grote mate van die van de
theorie (die dus gebaseerd is op de relatie tussen componenten en de onverwachte dingen
die hieruit voortkomen).
De vijf casussen laten ook een positieve correlatie zien tussen de projectprestatie en
verschillende percepties over complexiteit: dit heeft geleid tot de stelling dat verschillende
percepties over projectcomplexiteit leiden tot betere projectprestaties dan wanneer de
verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit niet verschillen.
Data-analyse leidde tot het identificeren van verschillende bronnen die bijdragen aan een
perceptie over projectcomplexiteit, een overzicht van toegepaste interventies om om te
gaan met projectcomplexiteit en een gedetailleerde beschrijving van de gevolgen van
verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit. Alle drie zullen hieronder toegelicht
worden.
Een perceptie over de projectcomplexiteit wordt gevormd door de selectie van bepaalde
elementen die vervolgens beoordeeld worden (elementen zijn in dit geval de eerder
genoemde TOE-elementen). De som van al deze beoordelingen vormt vervolgens de totale
perceptie over de projectcomplexiteit. Dit onderzoek heeft vier bronnen aangewezen die
bijdragen aan deze percepties en deze bronnen dragen dus bij aan ofwel de selectie van
een element ofwel de beoordeling van een element.
Drie van de vier geïdentificeerde bronnen dragen bij aan de selectie van een bepaald TOEelement. Deze bronnen zijn: (1) de gepercipieerde impact van een element en de invloed
die het individu heeft op dit element, (2) de ervaring van een individu en (3) de context van
een project (of: contextvariabelen).
De vierde bron draagt bij aan de beoordeling van deze elementen: (4) de belangen van een
individu, welke op hun beurt weer beïnvloed worden door de rol en/of persoonlijke waarden
van het individu.
Het is vastgesteld dat alle vier de bronnen bijdragen aan de vorming van een perceptie over
projectcomplexiteit maar het is ook vastgesteld dat de bijdrage van een specifieke bron per
individueel persoon kan verschillen.
Bestaande literatuur werd gereflecteerd aan de lijst van gevonden interventies om om te
gaan met projectcomplexiteit. Deze reflectie bevestigde de bestaande theorie dat
projectcomplexiteit wordt gemanaged door een mix van controlerende en verbindende
interventies. Deze twee types van interventie dragen bij aan respectievelijk de
controlerende aanpak en de vertrouwende aanpak. Het onderzoek heeft echter ook
aangetoond dat controlerende interventies soms werden gebruikt om de vertrouwende
aanpak mogelijk te maken en vice versa. Deze crossapplicatie van interventies (die dus de
andere aanpak mogelijk maken) is niet gevonden in de onderzochte literatuur en lijkt
zodoende een toevoeging te zijn op die bestaande literatuur.
Er werd ook onderzoek gedaan naar de relatie tussen een perceptie over
projectcomplexiteit en de gepleegde interventies om om te gaan met die complexiteit. Het
is vastgesteld dat die relatie bestaat maar de details van deze relatie zijn niet gevonden.
Het blijft onzeker of een bepaalde perceptie leidt tot een bepaalde interventie of dat een
bepaalde interventie (of: een gevoel van invloed) leidt tot een bepaalde perceptie. Dit is
een onderwerp voor vervolgonderzoek.
Verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit kunnen negatief bijdragen aan de
projectprestatie wanneer zij niet gemanaged worden. Wanneer zij echter wel gemanaged
worden, kunnen ze juist positief bijdragen aan de projectprestatie: het management van
verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit wordt in dit onderzoek aangeduid als
management op basis van percepties. Dit onderzoek betoogt dat management op basis van
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
percepties een belangrijke kern zou moeten
projectcomplexiteit binnen grote bouwprojecten.
vormen
in
het
management
van
De gevonden interventies die omgaan met projectcomplexiteit werden vaak toegepast om
de samenwerking met een andere partij binnen het project te managen. Dit onderzoek
onderscheidde de projectorganisatie, de aannemer, de maatschappelijke opdrachtgevers en
de lokale partijen. Het adviseert uiteindelijk de projectorganisatie over de omgang met deze
overige drie partijen. Dit resulteerde in de volgende aanbevelingen:
 Stuur aan op een helder mandaat van maatschappelijk opdrachtgevers. Dit mandaat
moet genoeg tijd, budget en ruimte bieden om het project uit te kunnen voeren.
 Verbind met lokale partijen in plaats van hen te controleren. Project organisaties
passen nog te vaak een controlerende aanpak toe richting lokale stakeholders. Deze
aanpak probeert de lokale partijen te managen maar benadert ze niet op een volledig
verbindende manier: lokale partijen worden niet oprecht betrokken in een project met
de controlerende aanpak. Dit onderzoek toont echter aan dat lokale stakeholders graag
juist verbindend benaderd willen worden en dat deze aanpak ook meer effectief is in
het verbeteren van de projectprestatie.
 Verbind met de aannemer maar controleer wanneer nodig. De aannemer heeft een
verbindende aanpak nodig maar wanneer de aannemer niet aan de vraag en
verwachtingen van de projectorganisatie blijft voldoen dient de controlerende aanpak
meer gehanteerd te worden.
Het onderzoek heeft ook een aantal interventies gevonden dat door een groot aantal
respondenten genoemd is: zij worden gezien als algemene interventies die bruikbaar zijn
om om te gaan met de grote lijnen van projectcomplexiteit. Er zijn vijf interventies vaak
genoemd: (1) fysiek contact is belangrijk in communicatie, (2) scheid rollen zoveel als
mogelijk binnen organisaties en individuen, (3) bouw informele netwerken zodat het
mogelijk wordt om tussen de regels en protocollen door te laveren, (4) vind geschikte
mensen en (5) pas management op basis van percepties toe.
Management op basis van percepties is een aanpak die zich concentreert op de
verschillende percepties over projectcomplexiteit van alle betrokken professionals in een
project. Dit onderzoek heeft vier manieren gevonden om om te gaan met verschillende
percepties over projectcomplexiteit: ze kunnen genegeerd worden, geëlimineerd worden,
gecontroleerd worden of geëxploiteerd worden. De laatste twee manieren, controle en
exploitatie, zijn onderdelen van dezelfde tweetrapsraket: eerst volgt controle waarna
vervolgens verschillende percepties geëxploiteerd kunnen worden. Het is aannemelijk dat
deze aanpak van alle aanpakken leidt tot de meest verbeterde projectprestatie.
De aanpak bestaat uit twee gedeeltes: eerst moeten alle betrokkenen een gedeeld mentaal
model overeen komen dat de projectbelangen centraliseert en de doelen van het project
helder formuleert. Vervolgens moeten alle individuen dit gedeelde mentale model in de
praktijk gaan toepassen door hun acties te baseren op dit model.
Management op basis van percepties draagt bij aan de projectprestatie op twee manieren:
het verbeterd de samenwerking tussen individuen door het gedeelde mentale model en het
maakt gebruikt van de ongebruikte kennis van individuen om zo het project te begrijpen en
te leren. Dit begrijpen en leren binnen een project is noodzakelijk omwille van het
onvoorspelbare karakter van projectcomplexiteit: projecten kunnen niet voorspeld worden
en dienen zodoende in de praktijk, bijna spelenderwijs, begrepen en geleerd te worden.
Dit onderzoek erkent drie principes die bijdragen aan de toepasbaarheid van management
op basis van percepties:
 Creëer de juiste randvoorwaarden. Deze randvoorwaarden bestaan uit bewustzijn over
de verschillen, de juiste sfeer, een helder mandaat van de maatschappelijk
opdrachtgever, het juiste type mensen en het bewustzijn van de gevolgen van een
bepaald contract type.
 Bouw een gezamenlijk mentaal model. Dit mentale model bevat de doelen van het
project en de gedeelde normen en waarden binnen het team. Het wordt gebruikt om de
acties van individuen richting te geven binnen een project.
 Concentreer op het leren en begrijpen van het project. Individuen moeten zich daarom
vrij voelen om het mentale model ter discussie te stellen en dit model op die manier te
herontwerpen. Dit maakt het gebruikt van verborgen kennis mogelijk. Verschillende
percepties over projectcomplexiteit kunnen daarnaast ook nog gebruikt worden in
applicaties zoals BIM en JRF (“gezamenlijke risico allocatie”).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Bovenstaande beschrijving van management op basis van percepties gaat er vanuit dat er
begrip en respect bestaat in de praktijk voor verschillende percepties over
projectcomplexiteit. Deze aannames zijn gevalideerd en bevestigd in een expert
bijeenkomst maar hier werd ook duidelijk dat het soms noodzakelijk is om een perceptie
over projectcomplexiteit op te leggen aan anderen omwille van de voortgang van het
project. Dit laat een mogelijk nadeel zien van management op basis van percepties: het
kan teveel tijd kosten in een project. Wanneer een perceptie opgelegd moet worden en
wanneer management op basis van percepties kan plaatsvinden is een onderwerp voor
vervolgonderzoek omdat dit onderzoek daarvoor niet de benodigde data heeft verzameld.
Een andere belangrijke beperking van dit onderzoek lag in het verkennende karakter van
het onderzoek: de uitkomsten van het onderzoek zijn niet op voldoende data gebaseerd om
de juistheid van de uitkomsten te kunnen garanderen. De uitkomsten van dit onderzoek
moeten daarom gezien worden als sterke hypotheses die gebruikt kunnen worden in
eventuele vervolgonderzoeken die wellicht een meer kwantitatief karakter kunnen hebben.
Een derde beperking van het onderzoek was de scheve afspiegeling van de geselecteerde
cases binnen de Nederlandse bouwsector: omdat alle projecten lid waren van het KING/RPA
netwerk kan het aangenomen worden dat deze projecten meer dan gemiddeld
geïnteresseerd waren in nieuwe ontwikkelingen binnen de industrie. Het valt daarom te
verwachten dat de geselecteerde projecten de bovenkant vormen van vooruitstrevend
project management in de Nederlandse bouwsector en zodoende kan de huidige situatie
binnen de sector te rooskleurig zijn voorgesteld.
De laatste beperking van het onderzoek is het gebrek aan aandacht voor strategisch gedrag
van individuen: dit gedrag kan management gebaseerd op percepties sterk beïnvloeden en
wellicht zelfs ondermijnen. De beschikbare data bood echter geen ruimte om dit fenomeen
te onderzoeken binnen dit onderzoek.
Er zijn drie onderzoeksrichtingen aangewezen voor vervolgonderzoek:
 De correlatie tussen een positieve projectprestatie en management gebaseerd op
percepties. Dit onderzoek heeft geleid tot de hypothese dat de prestaties van een
project positief worden beïnvloed wanneer management gebaseerd wordt op
percepties. Vervolgonderzoek moet deze relatie kwantificeren en vaststellen. Een case
studie kan ontworpen worden om te zien of de twee begrippen positief gecorreleerd
zijn. Hiervoor is ten eerste een meer gedetailleerde omschrijving van management op
basis van percepties nodig: deze beschrijving kan vervolgens gebruikt worden om te
bepalen welk type perceptie-management de onderzochte casussen hanteren (negeren,
elimineren, controleren of exploiteren) en in welke mate ze dit doen. De invloed van
strategisch gedrag door individuen zou ook meegenomen moeten worden in deze
gedetailleerde beschrijving.
Door uiteindelijk het type perceptie-management en de mate waarin dit gebeurt te
koppelen aan de projectprestatie (die kwantitatief bepaald zou moeten worden aan de
hand van een bestaande en bewezen methode) kan bepaald worden of de twee
begrippen inderdaad positief gecorreleerd zijn.
 De bronnen van percepties over projectcomplexiteit. Dit onderzoek heeft minsten vier
bronnen aangewezen voor percepties over projectcomplexiteit en heeft ook aangetoond
dat deze vier bronnen in verschillende mate bijdragen aan een perceptie, afhankelijk
van het individu. Vervolgonderzoek kan deze bijdrage per bron bepalen en met behulp
van het lens model kunnen bronnen bijdragend aan de selectie en beoordeling van
TOE-elementen geraffineerder en statistisch bewezen worden. Dit vereist een beter
ontwerp van het lens model waarin de statistische mogelijkheden van het model benut
worden. De professionals die geselecteerd worden voor het onderzoek dienen
geselecteerd te worden op basis van hun rol: door individuen met dezelfde rol in
verschillende projecten te vergelijken kan de invloed van de rol op de bijdrage van
iedere bron bepaald worden.
 Omgaan met projectcomplexiteit. Dit onderzoek heeft bestaande theorieën bevestigd in
hun opvatting dat de omgang met projectcomplexiteit een mix is van de controlerende
aanpak en de vertrouwende aanpak. De crossapplicatie van interventies tussen de twee
aanpakken en de vraag hoe professionals de beide aanpakken kunnen balanceren is
een onderwerp voor vervolgonderzoek. Dit vereist een case studie waarin reeds
afgeronde projecten onderzocht worden: de gepercipieerde complexiteit kan dan
gereconstrueerd worden samen met de interventies die gepleegd zijn om om te gaan
met die complexiteit. Ook kunnen de initiële doelen van de interventie en de
uiteindelijke effecten gereconstrueerd worden.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Dit onderzoek zou uiteindelijk ook de relatie tussen percepties over projectcomplexiteit
en toegepaste interventies kunnen onderzoeken: dit onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat
die relatie bestaat maar het is nog onduidelijk hoe die relatie precies wordt ingevuld.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Table of contents
Preface .................................................................................................................................................V Summary .......................................................................................................................................... VII Samenvatting ................................................................................................................................... XIII List of tables, figures, charts and formulas ............................................................................................ XXI 1. 1.1. 1.2. 1.3. 1.4. 1.5. Introduction ............................................................................................................................. 1 The challenges of the Project Delivery Organisation ....................................................................... 2 Research on project complexity and project management .............................................................. 3 Problem formulation .................................................................................................................. 3 Research objectives and question ................................................................................................ 4 Reading guide...........................................................................................................................5 2. 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. Theoretical framework ............................................................................................................. 7 Project complexity .....................................................................................................................7 Perceived complexities ............................................................................................................. 12 Management of project complexity ............................................................................................ 14 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 18 3. 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. Methodology .......................................................................................................................... 19 General characteristics............................................................................................................. 19 Research strategy & quality ...................................................................................................... 19 Research process .................................................................................................................... 21 Research propositions .............................................................................................................. 21 4. Research design: case study set-up ....................................................................................... 23 4.1. Case design ............................................................................................................................ 23 4.2. Case protocol ......................................................................................................................... 24 4.3. Case selection ........................................................................................................................ 25 4.4. Data analysis .......................................................................................................................... 26 4.4.1. Descriptive research ................................................................................................................ 26 4.4.2. Explanation building ................................................................................................................ 28 5. Results of the case studies ..................................................................................................... 31 5.1. Case report 1: new metro and bus station in urban area .............................................................. 31 5.1.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity ........................................... 32 5.1.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities ................................................. 34 5.1.3. Overall case conclusion ............................................................................................................ 35 5.2. Case report 2: new ship lock in rural area .................................................................................. 36 5.2.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity ........................................... 37 5.2.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities ................................................. 38 5.2.3. Overall case conclusion ............................................................................................................ 39 5.3. Case report 3: new museum in rural area .................................................................................. 40 5.3.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity ........................................... 41 5.3.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities ................................................. 42 5.3.3. Overall case conclusion ............................................................................................................ 43 5.4. Case report 4: new metro station in urban area .......................................................................... 44 5.4.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity ........................................... 45 5.4.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities ................................................. 46 5.4.3. Overall case conclusion ............................................................................................................ 47 5.5. Case report 5: expansion of a train station ................................................................................. 47 5.5.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity ........................................... 49 5.5.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities ................................................. 50 5.5.3. Overall case conclusion ............................................................................................................ 51 5.6. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 51 XIX |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.6.1. 5.6.2. 5.6.3. 5.6.4. How can perceived complexities be described?............................................................................ 51 How can perceived complexities of construction practitioners be categorised? ................................. 52 What is the link between perceived complexities and interventions dealing with project complexity? . 53 What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance? .................... 54 6. Results of the data analyses................................................................................................... 55 6.1. Results of the explanation building: formulating the hypotheses ................................................... 55 6.2. Results of the descriptive research: interventions dealing with project complexity ........................... 63 6.2.1. Interventions mentioned by and about civil principals .................................................................. 65 6.2.2. Interventions mentioned by and about contractors ...................................................................... 66 6.2.3. Interventions mentioned by and about local stakeholders............................................................. 67 6.2.4. Interventions mentioned by PDOs about PDOs ............................................................................ 68 6.2.5. Perception-based management ................................................................................................. 69 6.3. Interventions and perceived complexities ................................................................................... 69 6.4. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 70 6.4.1. How do the different perceived complexities originate? ................................................................ 70 6.4.2. How do perceived complexities affect interventions dealing with complexity? .................................. 71 6.4.3. What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance? .................... 71 7. Results & discussion .............................................................................................................. 75 7.1. Dealing with project complexity ................................................................................................ 75 7.2. Perceived complexities and perception-based management .......................................................... 78 7.2.1. Determining the origins of perceived complexities ....................................................................... 78 7.2.2. Contributions of perception-based management to project performance ........................................ 79 7.2.3. Interventions within perception-based management .................................................................... 81 7.3. Managerial implications of the research...................................................................................... 86 7.3.1. Managerial implications for dealing with project complexity .......................................................... 86 7.3.2. Dealing with project complexity: perception-based management .................................................. 88 7.4. Limitations of this research ...................................................................................................... 89 8. Conclusions and further research ........................................................................................... 91 8.1. Conclusions ............................................................................................................................ 91 8.2. Recommendations for further research ...................................................................................... 94 8.2.1. Research direction one: relation between perception-based management and project performance ... 94 8.2.2. Research direction two: origins of perceived complexities and its effects on interventions dealing with
project complexity ............................................................................................................................... 95 8.2.3. Research direction three: management approaches dealing with project complexity ........................ 95 9. References ............................................................................................................................. 97 Appendix A. Interview design ................................................................................................................ 99 Appendix B. Descriptions perceived complexities ................................................................................... 103 Appendix C. TOE-elements ................................................................................................................. 133 Appendix D. Justification of interventions and hypotheses....................................................................... 135 XX |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
List of tables, figures, charts and formulas
FIGURES
FIGURE 2.1 SDI MATRIX TO ASSESS COMPLEXITY OF PROJECTS. FROM: WHITTY AND MAYLOR (2009) .................................... 9 FIGURE 2.2 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SYSTEM AND A META‐SYSTEM. FROM: DAVIES AND MACKENZIE (2013) ........................ 10 FIGURE 2.3 THE BRUNSWIKIAN LENS MODEL. FROM FIGUEREDO ET AL. (2006) ............................................................... 13 FIGURE 2.4 THE LENS MODEL OF SCHERER (1978) ..................................................................................................... 13 FIGURE 2.5 THE LENS MODEL OF STEWART AND LUSK (1994) ...................................................................................... 13 FIGURE 2.6 THE ADAPTED FRAMEWORK USED TO DESCRIBE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ....................................................... 14 FIGURE 2.7 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROJECT COMPLEXITY AND PROJECTMANAGEMENT APPROACHES ............................................................................................................................................... 18 FIGURE 3.1 DIFFERENT PHASES OF THE RESEARCH. ADAPTED FROM OOST AND MARKENHOF (2002) ................................... 21 FIGURE 3.2 INTERRELATION OF THE RESEARCH’S OBJECTIVES AND PROPOSITIONS ............................................................. 22 FIGURE 4.1 OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT ROLE‐GROUPS IDENTIFIED IN THIS RESEARCH ..................................................... 24 FIGURE 4.2 THE RESULTS OF THE DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH ............................................................................................. 27 FIGURE 4.3 THE LENS MODEL USED TO DESCRIBE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ..................................................................... 27 FIGURE 4.4 ALTERED SUMMARY‐AIDED APPROACH (MILES & HUBERMAN, 1994) USED FOR EXPLANATION BUILDING .............. 29 FIGURE 5.1 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 1 ON ROLE‐GROUPS ............................................................ 32 FIGURE 5.2 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 2 ON ROLE‐GROUPS ............................................................ 36 FIGURE 5.3 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 3 ON ROLE‐GROUPS ............................................................ 40 FIGURE 5.4 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 4 ON ROLE‐GROUPS ............................................................ 44 FIGURE 5.5 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 5 ON ROLE‐GROUPS ............................................................ 48 FIGURE 5.6 FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES .................................................................................. 54 FIGURE 6.1 THE RELATION BETWEEN A ROLE, A VALUE, AN INTEREST AND A PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY .................................... 62 FIGURE 6.2 VISUALISATION OF THE 10 DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF RESEARCHED INTERVENTIONS ......................................... 64 FIGURE 6.3 DIFFERENT WAYS OF HANDLING DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ............................................................ 72 FIGURE 7.1 ANALYTICAL MODEL OF PROJECT ESCALATION. FROM: WINCH (2013) ........................................................... 76 FIGURE 7.2 CROSS‐APPLICATION OF CONTROL AND HANDS‐OFF APPROACH: CONTROLLING AND CONNECTING INTERVENTIOS MAKING THE OTHER APPROACH POSSIBLE .......................................................................................................... 77 FIGURE 7.3 CONTRIBUTIONS OF PERCEPTION‐BASED MANAGEMENT TO PROJECT PERFORMANCE ......................................... 81 FIGURE 7.4 THE ICEBERG MODEL OF MCCLELLAND (1973). FROM: EMERALDINSIGHT.COM ............................................... 83 FIGURE 7.5 SEQUENCE OF THE PSU WITH CORRESPONDING FOLLOW‐UPS ....................................................................... 84 FIGURE 7.6 MODEL OF DOUBLE‐LOOP‐LEARNING. FROM: REYES (2012) ........................................................................ 85 FIGURE 8.1 CONTRIBUTIONS OF PERCEPTION‐BASED MANAGEMENT TO PROJECT PERFORMANCE ......................................... 93 FIGURE 8.2 RELATIONS BETWEEN PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES AND PROJECT PERFORMANCE ................................................. 93 Tables
TABLE 2.1 CATEGORISATION OF DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF PROJECT COMPLEXITY ........................................................... 10 TABLE 2.2 DIFFERENT INTERVENTION TYPES. FROM: BEST, ET AL. (2013). ...................................................................... 16 TABLE 2.3 CATEGORISATION OF DIFFERENT PROJECTMANAGEMENT‐APPROACHES TO DEAL WITH PROJECT COMPLEXITY ........... 17 TABLE 2.4 TWO IDENTIFIED APPROACHES TO DEAL WITH PROJECT COMPLEXITY ................................................................ 17 TABLE 3.1 APPLICATION OF THE RESEARCH PHASES OF OOST AND MARKENHOF (2002) ..................................................... 21 TABLE 4.1 OVERVIEW OF THE SELECTED PROJECTS AND THEIR CORRESPONDING PHASES .................................................... 26 TABLE 4.2 DATA SOURCES AND THE CONTENT BLOCKS THAT THEY SERVE ......................................................................... 28 TABLE 5.1 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 1 ................................................................................................... 32 TABLE 5.2 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY‐RESULTS OF CASE 1 ................................................................................................. 33 TABLE 5.3 SCORES OF RESPONDENTS OF CASE 1 ON THE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER. ................................ 34 TABLE 5.4 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 1 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ........... 34 TABLE 5.5 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 2 ................................................................................................... 36 TABLE 5.6 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY‐RESULTS OF CASE 2 ................................................................................................. 37 XXI |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
TABLE 5.7 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 2 ON THE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER ............................ 38 TABLE 5.8 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 2 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERET PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ............. 38 TABLE 5.9 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 3 ................................................................................................... 40 TABLE 5.10 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY‐RESULTS FOR CASE 3. ............................................................................................ 41 TABLE 5.11 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 3 ON THE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROCESS MANAGER .......................... 42 TABLE 5.12 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 3 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ......... 42 TABLE 5.13 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 4................................................................................................. 44 TABLE 5.14 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY‐RESULTS FOR CASE 4. ............................................................................................ 45 TABLE 5.15 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 4 ON THE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER .......................... 46 TABLE 5.16 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 4 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ......... 46 TABLE 5.17 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 5................................................................................................. 48 TABLE 5.18 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY‐RESULTS FOR CASE 5 ............................................................................................. 49 TABLE 5.19 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 5 ON THE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER. ......................... 50 TABLE 5.20 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 5 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES. ........ 50 TABLE 5.21 SUMMARISED CONTEXT CHARACTERISTICS THAT WERE OVERALL MENTIONED WITHIN EACH CASE WHEN EXPLAINING THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY ........................................................................................................................... 52 TABLE 5.22 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHALLENGE‐FOCUSSED AND PROBLEM‐FOCUSSED PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ..................... 53 TABLE 6.1 RESULTS OF THE EXPLANATION BUILDING. .................................................................................................. 58 TABLE 6.2 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CIVIL PRINCIPALS MENTIONED BY CIVIL PRINCIPALS ....... 65 TABLE 6.3 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO THE PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATION MENTIONED BY CIVIL PRINCIPALS .......................................................................................................................................... 65 TABLE 6.4 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CIVIL PRINCIPALS MENTIONED BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS .......................................................................................................................................... 65 TABLE 6.5 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CONTRACTORS MENTIONED BY CONTRACTORS ............ 66 TABLE 6.6 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO THE PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATION MENTIONED BY CONTRACTORS ............................................................................................................................................. 66 TABLE 6.7 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CONTRACTORS MENTIONED BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS .......................................................................................................................................... 67 TABLE 6.8 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS MENTIONED BY LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS ............................................................................................................................................ 67 TABLE 6.9 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS MENTIONED BY LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS ............................................................................................................................................ 68 TABLE 6.10 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS MENTIONED BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS .......................................................................................................................................... 68 TABLE 6.11 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS MENTIONED BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS ................................................................................................................. 69 TABLE 6.12 MODELS OF THE TWO DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT APPROACHES TOWARDS DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES ONCE AWARENESS IS CREATED ................................................................................................................................ 73 TABLE 7.1 MENTIONED REASONS WHY TOP‐3 LISTS WERE NOT BASED ON THE ROLE OF RESPONDENTS.................................. 78 Charts
CHART 6.1 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS I. ....................................................................... 59 CHART 6.2 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS II ........................................................................ 59 CHART 6.3 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS III. ...................................................................... 60 CHART 6.4 ANSWERS ON THE QUESTION “ARE THESE TOP‐3 ELEMENTS PROJECT‐SPECIFIC?” .............................................. 60 CHART 6.5 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS IV. ...................................................................... 61 CHART 6.6 ANSWERS OF RESPONDENTS ON THE QUESTION “WOULD YOU INDICATE THE SAME TOP‐3 WHEN YOU WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT ROLE?”. ...................................................................................................................................... 62 CHART 6.7 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESES VI AND VII ........................................................... 63 CHART 6.8 THE RATIO OF CONNECTING, CONTROLLING AND ACTUATING INTERVENTIONS FOR EACH TYPE OF PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY................................................................................................................................................ 70 Formulas
FORMULA 4.1 COMPLEXITY SCORE ......................................................................................................................... 28 FORMULA 4.2 UNANIMITY SCORE ........................................................................................................................... 28 XXII |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1. Introduction
“True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It's about
bringing order to complexity„
John Ive, Senior Vice President Design at Apple
Apple, with an expected revenue of over $30 billion in 2013 and hundreds of millions
products sold globally, is one of the biggest companies on the planet. The quote of John
Ive, head design at Apple, expresses his feelings on the explanation of the success of its
products and its designs: bringing order to complexity. This one view, expressed into two
sentences, indicates an important opinion about complexity: it puts the management of
complexity at the core of the company.
Apple is not the only business that acknowledges complexity in its core business:
complexity is a phenomenon of which the construction business is becoming, along with
other businesses, more and more aware since construction projects are believed to have
become more complex in the recent past. Contemporary project management focuses itself
therefore increasingly on the management of complexity and project complexity is a hot
item in project management literature (Whitty & Maylor, 2009; Koppenjan et al., 2011).
Construction projects in the Netherlands are often ordered by governmental organisations
(Armstrong et al., 2013) and can consist of projects like non-residential projects (museums,
hospitals, energy plants), dry infrastructure projects (roads, railroads, rail stations) or wet
infrastructure projects (locks, harbours, channels).
The assignment for these projects often comes from political decision-makers, such as the
house of parliament, the national government, provinces or municipalities. Organisations
like ProRail (the department of rail infrastructure) and Rijkswaterstaat (the department of
public works) are examples of organisations responsible for the execution of these projects:
they need to detail the project and tender the project to a private partner who becomes
responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and/or operation of it. These private
partners are often contractors.
The role of projects within society has become increasingly more important: organisations
use projects more and more to execute their objectives. This is called projectification and
projectification has even become so important that the core focus of several organisations
is concentrated on the management of multiple projects at the same time. This is called
programmafication: the programmafication of society is believed to be still ongoing (Maylor
et al., 2006).
At the same time the public attention for these projects and especially their failures has
grown significantly. Examples like the Betuweroute, Noord/Zuid line and HSL-south became
known for their huge time and budget overruns which led to increased public awareness of
the importance of construction projects to society. A more recent example is the Dutch
high-speed train Fyra: its failure will cost society severely and has led to much attention in
the public debate.
Complexity is often accused as being the cause of this failure (Whitty & Maylor, 2009) and
is referred to as project complexity.
This thesis focuses itself on the management of this project complexity within Large
Construction Projects (LCPs), executed in the Netherlands.
So what makes a construction project a LCP? LCPs are construction projects that are large
in terms of Capital Expenditure (CAPEX), number of involved internal actors and/or number
of involved external stakeholders. The term ‘large’ is deliberately not specified because it is
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
not the intention of this thesis to define a specific threshold. Large must be seen as ‘above
average’.
LCPs furthermore have a public authority as client and the public interest is therefore a
component within these projects. Because these projects are paid for with public money, it
is important to transparently allocate the financials resources within the LCPs. It also means
that projects have to be executed with maximized cost-efficiency and have to do so in a
transparent way. The involvement of public parties results in a different kind of project than
projects in which only private parties participate.
Examples of extreme LCPs in the Netherlands are the earlier mentioned Betuweroute, the
Delta Works, the Noord/Zuid line and the HSL-south. These projects are examples of the
upper limit of LCPs and therefore state the norm: they can be called megaprojects. But
projects that are less ‘mega’ also can be classified as LCPs: the cases treated in this
research will show that much smaller projects (in terms of CAPEX) can be still very complex
due to the number of involved stakeholders and can therefore also be classified as LCPs.
This thesis will look at complexity within LCPs from the perspective of the Project Delivery
Organisation (PDOs). These PDOs are the organisations that are responsible for the
execution of the LCPs. They can be seen as both the end-station of the process of political
decision-making and the starting-point for the physical construction of a project. They are
the vital link between politics and practice and therefore crucial in the management of LCPs.
The results of this thesis will be tailor-made for these PDOs, which means that conclusions
and advises will be focussed on the PDO rather than other important parties within LCPs.
1.1.
The challenges of the Project Delivery Organisation
To better understand the influence of project complexity on PDOs and project performance
the following section will mention some examples of complex elements that PDOs need to
deal with in LCPs.
An example of this challenge is found in the use of integrated contracts and Public-PrivatePartnerships (PPP). Both contract types are relatively young: the first large project
delivered with an integrated contract was the Maeslantkering in 1997 (KING, 2013) and the
PPP-contracts did not found true ground in the Netherlands until the second PPS-wave in
2002 (Klijn & Twist van, 2007).
These types of contracts involve the market much more than traditional contracts and make
use of the knowledge and skills of private parties. Private partners are due to the contracts
often responsible for both the design and the construction of LCPs (opposed to traditional
contracts where private parties provide either the design or the construction). They can
even become responsible for financing, maintaining and operating the LCPs, depended on
the situation.
In this shift of responsibilities from the PDO to the contractor lies a fundamental challenge:
public interests need to be served by private partners resulting in a tension between the
primary interest of the public (quality) and the primary interest of the companies delivering
the projects (profit). PDOs have to be able to deal with this tension and must find the
balance in delivering a qualitative and cost-effective project without ignoring the necessary
profit margin for contractors.
Another example of a challenge for PDOs is the growing importance of local stakeholders in
both the design-phase and the execution-phase of the project. These local stakeholders
(consisting of actors like local residents, NGOs, environmental organisations, etc.) can
influence project performance severely by means like juridical procedures: these
procedures often cost time and money thereby delay projects or even alter projects. But
local stakeholders can for example also influence involved decision-makers which could
result in an altered assignment for the PDO, maybe even during the construction phase. It
became therefore necessary, due to this influence, that PDOs take all important local
stakeholders into account. Their number is also likely to grow: projects are more and more
executed within urban areas resulting in more involved local stakeholders.
These two examples show that PDOs have to take many things into account while delivering
LCPs: it are examples of the growing complexity within LCPs and it is believed that
complexity in these projects will continue to grow (Romein et al., 2003; Thomas & Mengel,
2008).
This explains the increased attention within literature and scientific research for the
phenomenon of project complexity. Research often tries to understand project complexity
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
and, even more important, desires to contribute to the knowledge on project management
so that PDOs can deal with this project complexity.
1.2.
Research on project complexity and project management
The growing complexity within LCPs has led to scientific research on this topic with the
objective to understand and manage project complexity. This is done by scientific research
on this topic, but also through the exchange of knowledge and experiences within the
construction sector. This exchange of knowledge is the objective of multiple knowledge
institutes and Kennis In het Groot (KING) is an example of such an organisation. KING was
founded in 2008 by Rijkswaterstaat, ProRail and the municipality of Amsterdam with the
objective to exchange knowledge between complex LCPs and to create knowledge that
could be used in the construction industry. It is their belief that the management of
complex projects does not only consists of project control (i.e. controlling time, scope and
budget), but also of more ‘soft issues’ like people and processes.
The RijksProjectAcademie (RPA) is a comparable initiative and was started in 2009 by,
among other organisations, Rijkswaterstaat. It aims at the supply of knowledge, the
creation of knowledge and the exchange of knowledge. Several construction projects join
within their program. Very recently KING and the RPA decided to join together in an
alliance.
KING and the RPA started research on project complexity in cooperation with the Delft
University of Technology with the aim to gain better understanding of project complexity
within LCPs from a scientific perspective. This research was conducted by Marian BoschRekveldt, who developed the TOE-framework (Bosch-Rekveldt, 2011) and used this
framework to assess the project complexity within LCPs (Bosch-Rekveldt, 2013).
The TOE-framework is a framework derived from practice and can be used to answer the
question of what an individual judges as complex within a project. The framework consists
of 57 elements divided over three categories: Technical, Organisational and External
elements. It is used to assess the ‘complexity footprint’ of a project bottom-up, so from a
practitioners’ perspective.
In order to assess the experienced project complexity within LCPs she asked 164
respondents divided over 35 construction projects from the KING/RPA network to judge the
57 elements on project complexity with the help of a survey. This resulted in the
identification of four overall aspects that contributed to general project complexity within
LCPs:
 Complexity due to time/dynamics
 Complexity due to interfaces
 Complexity due to the lack of resources
 Complexity due to external influences
This assessment of project complexity with the survey based on the TOE-framework
provided the starting point for this research.
1.3.
Problem formulation
Although the respondents in the research of Bosch-Rekveldt (2013) identified four general
groups of elements that drives project complexity within the projects, the differences in the
answers between the respondents were considerable and asked for an explanation.
These differences were predicted and with the help of the answers on the survey they
became concrete and determinable: the survey provided insights into the differences.
The respondents showed in other words different perceived complexities, not only between
different projects but also within the same projects and even within the same organisations.
These different perceived complexities were observed and it was desirable to know what the
causes of these different perceived complexities were and what their consequences were for
the project performance of LCPs
There was another question besides the desire to understand the different perceived
complexities: how could PDOs manage the complexity within the project? Theory provides
several management approaches on project complexity (some of them will be described in
chapter two) but it is unclear which management techniques are applied in practice.
There is furthermore little known about the specific interventions that deal with project
complexity (Whitty & Maylor, 2009) and one of the first steps to identify specific
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
interventions was taken by Best, et al. (2013): they however too indicated that more
research on this topic is necessary.
So there is a demand from construction practitioners for two types of knowledge: (1) about
different perceived complexities and (2) about interventions to deal with this project
complexity. This demand is formulated by KING/RPA, but the attention for the more ‘soft
skills’ also grows in project management literature (Cicmil et al., 2006; Cooke-Davies et al.,
2007; Favari, 2012). This rising interest in literature can be explained with the growing
complexity within LCPs (Romein, et al., 2003; Thomas & Mengel, 2008). Management
approaches therefore need to adapt to this growing complexity (Vidal et al., 2011), and
education of project management needs to adapt accordingly (Thomas & Mengel, 2008;
Whitty & Maylor, 2009).
Summarised: there is very little known in theory about perceived complexities and possible
specific interventions to deal with project complexity which shows the importance of this
research. This also made this research quite explorative in its nature which made it difficult
to design predefined frameworks and answer-designs: this will be further elaborated in
chapter three. It is first important to formulate research objectives and questions.
1.4.
Research objectives and question
The objective of this research is to understand perceived complexities and its implications
on the project performance of LCPs. By identifying the causes of a perceived complexity it
can be better understood how construction practitioners judge the project complexity within
LCPs: the project management of complex LCPs can be optimized by understanding the
consequences of these different perceived complexities.
This research especially focuses itself on the relation between perceived complexities and
interventions to deal with complexity: by doing so the consequences of different
perceptions become apparent within LCPs.
The research objectives can be split into four different objectives which all together
contribute to the main research objective. The four objectives are described below.
 Understanding perceived complexities
 Understanding the relations between perceived complexities and interventions dealing
with project complexity
 Understanding the implications of different perceived complexities on project
performance
 Formulate the implications of different perceived complexities for project management
The research focuses itself on the perspective of the PDO: by equipping these PDOs with
knowledge on different perceived complexities the research contributes to the improvement
of management of project complexity since it are the PDOs that form the core of project
management within LCPs.
It is also an objective to enrich literature on project management: the research looks at
project complexity and project management from a practitioners’ perspective by applying a
bottom-up approach. This bottom-up approach provides a useful addition and reflection on
the available scientific knowledge on these subjects, certainly concerning the Dutch
construction industry.
It is explicitly not the objective of this research to formulate a theoretical, general definition
of project complexity within LCPs. By understanding the phenomenon of different
perceptions and focussing on consequences rather than definitions the research aims to
improve project management and therefore project performance.
These research objectives lead to the following research question:
How do different perceived complexities impact project performance of LCPs and what are the
implications for the project management of LCPs?
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The main research question will be answered with the help of seven sub-questions which
will be answered in chapters five, six and seven.
A.
B.
C.
D.
How can perceived complexities be described?
How do the different perceived complexities originate?
How can perceived complexities of construction practitioners be categorised?
What is the link between perceived complexities and interventions dealing with
project complexity?
E. How do perceived complexities affect interventions dealing with complexity?
F. What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project
performance?
G. What do different perceived complexities mean for project management?
1.5.
Reading guide
Chapter two, theoretical background, will provide the necessary theoretical framework in
order to understand the context and knowledge on the most important concepts of this
research. This knowledge was used in order to formulate the necessary propositions for this
research.
Chapter three, methodology, explains and defends the methodology used to perform the
research. By combining the problem formulation from chapter one and the knowledge of
chapter two together with literature on methodology, the research design was made and
based on a case study.
Chapter four, set-up of the case studies, shows the detailed design of the embedded multicase study and the methodology used to analyse the data.
Chapter five, results of the case studies, displays the results of the cases in the form of
detailed case reports. A reflection on each case is also provided in this chapter.
Chapter six, results of the data analysis, gives the results of the data analyses performed
on the data. It illustrates the use of explanation building in order to build hypotheses used
to explain certain phenomena and shows the results of descriptive research which is used
for, among other objectives, the description of encountered interventions dealing with
complexity.
Chapter seven, results and discussion, discusses the results gained from chapters five and
six. It validates the outcomes of the research in three ways: internal validation by
confronting the participating project managers with the outcomes (1), external validation
by reflecting the outcomes in literature (2) and external validation by discussing the
outcomes in an expert panel (3). This expert panel consisted of approximately 30
construction practitioners and was organised as a debating-event of KING.
Chapter eight, conclusions and recommendations, combines the results and gives an
answer on the main research question. The chapter is concluded with a number of
indications for further research.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
2. Theoretical framework
The previous chapter introduced several scientific topics on which knowledge and theories
already exist. This chapter functions as an elaboration on these topics in order to better
understand the framework in which this research takes place.
Theoretical research was conducted on three specified topics so that this knowledge could
be used throughout the research. These three topics are summed up below and form the
three sections of this chapter. The objective that the three topics serve is also described.
 The definition of project complexity (§2.1). Theory about this topic provides the
necessary distinction between simple, complicated and complex projects and leads to a
clear formulation of what is considered as complex by existing theory. This section also
indicates how this research is embedded into the existing knowledge about project
complexity.
 A better understanding of perceptions (§2.2). Knowledge on this topic leads to a better
understanding of perceptions within organisms and provides a framework which can be
used in the research to describe different perceived complexities
 An assessment of known project management approaches to deal with project
complexity (§2.3). One objective of this research is to identify and classify
interventions dealing with project complexity and in order to do so this chapter
provides the knowledge to build a framework of encountered PM approaches in
literature.
It is not the aim of this research to provide a comprehensive overview of all important
literature: it merely uses theory to meet the described objectives. Research focussed on
recent theories so that this research could be embedded within these recent theories.
Literature that is used in the section about perceptions functions merely as an introduction
in the field of cognitive psychology: it is therefore less actual but still relevant.
2.1.
Project complexity
Project complexity is the general term used to identify complexity within projects and is a
phenomenon which is not limited to construction projects but construction projects are
certainly an applicable field for project complexity (Baccarini, 1996). This complexity is seen
as a major contributor to project failure of LCPs (de Ridder, 1994; Baccarini, 1996; Thomas
& Mengel, 2008; Koppenjan, et al., 2011; Favari, 2012) and is therefore richly treated
within project management literature.
But what is project complexity? Literature defines several types of project complexity which
are understood by the author as two major types of definitions: definitions based on the
systems-view and a definition based on the edge-of-chaos-view. Both are explained in the
following.
The first view, the systems-view, applies to the theory in which projects are seen as
systems. A system is created when multiple components are connected to each other and
create a result which is greater than the sum of the individual components. This
phenomenon was first observed in the field of biology (de Ridder, 1994) but is since then
applied in geology, astronomy, chemistry and meteorology (Thomas & Mengel, 2008).
Complex systems are not clear to define but are traditionally and generally seen as systems
where there is a lot of interrelation and interconnection between the different components
of a system (Thomas & Mengel, 2008). This implicates that all systems have a degree of
‘how complex the system is’ (since every system has at least two components interrelating
and connecting): the term complexity refers to this degree of how complex a system is and
states that the complexity of a system can be benchmarked with other systems on the
same ruler (Whitty & Maylor, 2009).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The second view, the edge-of-chaos-view, gained increased awareness when complexity
theories were applied to organisational science (Thomas & Mengel, 2008) since
organisational sciences do not only wish to contemplate complexity but also want to
manage this complexity (Favari, 2012). This brought a more modern view on complexity
forward: this more modern view regards project complexity as the ability of a system to
adapt and organize itself. Complex systems are open, chaotic, self-organizing and
interdependent (Thomas & Mengel, 2008; Favari, 2012). Cooke-Davies, et al. (2007) add
the more generic view that modern research on project complexity tries to understand how
order and structure arises from chaotic and uncertain situations, and how chaos arises from
order and structure.
Summarised: complex projects consist of multiple components which interrelate with each
other (traditional view) and do so unexpected (modern view). These two main views on
project complexity can be used to better understand the definitions in literature which are
treated below in order to come to a definition of project complexity which can be used in
the research.
Besides this general definition this section also makes clear how the research on perceived
complexities fits into existing knowledge of project complexity. All used literature is
therefore specifically scanned on any mentioning’s of different perceptions within the
definitions of project complexity.
Baccarini (1996) argues that until the 90s no clear definition of project complexity was
given. He defines project complexity, especially within construction projects, in terms of
differentiation (the number of different elements) and interdependency (the matter to
which extend these elements interrelate with each other): this definition corresponds with
the traditional view on complexity. He furthermore emphasizes the fact that the type of
project complexity makes all the difference in a definition since project complexity can
apply to several project dimensions, such as: the organisational dimension, technical
dimensions, environmental dimensions, decision making processes and sub-systems. He
finally concludes that an operational step is necessary in defining project complexity but
does not mention different perceptions whatsoever.
Williams (1999) is one of the first encountered authors that introduce the modern view on
project complexity: he defines uncertainty next to structural uncertainty. This structural
uncertainty refers to the traditional view on project complexity (since it refers to
interrelating components) and the introduced uncertainty refers to the unexpected
behaviour of projects and therefore more to the modern view on project complexity. This
uncertainty exposes itself within the projects’ goals and methods. There are no mentions of
different perceived complexities in his research.
Thomas and Mengel (2008) acknowledge the two main views and add that practitioners
often refer to complexity from the systems-view rather than the edge-of-chaos-view.
Thomas and Mengel however focus their definition on the latter, since projects in practice
are becoming increasingly more dynamic and unstable and they believe that it is this
complexity that needs attention.
They base their definition of complexity on three different approaches: the chaos theory,
dissipative structures and adaptive systems: the first theory refers to the ability of a project
complexity to change over time, the second to the dynamics between the stable and
unstable point of projects and the third to the ability of projects’ parts to learn and adapt to
complexity autonomously.
They do not mention any form of perceived complexity explicitly but their notion that
practitioners often indicate different types of complexity than the theoretical sources might
implicate different perceived complexities.
Whitty and Maylor (2009) warn for the fact that projects are too often called ‘complex’
while they are actually not: complexity is merrily a degree of complex and has therefore
different levels.
To indicate whether a project is truly complex the Structural Dynamic Interaction matrix
(SDI, figure 2.1) is used. This matrix distinguishes structural and dynamic projects:
dynamic projects change over time due to complexity; structural projects do not change. It
also distinguishes independent parts of the project or interacting parts of the project:
interacting parts of the project cause other parts to change, independent parts do not.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Whitty and Maylor classify a project as ‘truly complex’ if they are a type-4 project, so a
dynamic and interacting project. They do not mention any reference to perceived
complexities of practitioners within projects.
FIGURE 2.1 SDI MATRIX TO ASSESS COMPLEXITY OF PROJECTS. FROM: Whitty and Maylor (2009)
Hertogh and Westerveld (2010, p. 197) define two types of project complexity: detail
complexity and dynamic complexity. Detail complexity refers to the traditional view where
complexity is created due to many interrelating components with a high degree of
interrelation. Dynamic complexity refers to the modern view where complexity is created
due to an evolving project over time and a limited understanding and predictability of the
project.
They do not mention perceived complexities explicitly within their research but do make
two interesting remarks: the first is that changing parties and stakeholders are a source for
dynamic complexity, which could mean that different perceptions are a cause of dynamic
complexity since every stakeholder has its own perception on complexity. The second is
the indication of subjectivity in the project managers´ judgement on the uncertainties of
the project: this judgement is a key decision within project management and could refer to
a certain perceived complexity of the project manager.
Koppenjan, et al. (2011) underline the vision of Hertogh and Westerveld but refer to detail
complexity with the term structural complexity. They characterise the dynamic complexity
of a project as unpredictable, uncertain and emergent. The structural complexity can on the
contrary be quantified, measured and prepared for. They also make no remarks of different
perceived complexities.
Favari (2012) focuses his research on the construction of urban infrastructure and
distinguishes two types of project complexity: the complexity of the project itself and the
complexity of the environment. This environment becomes complex due to the
interconnection of the urban city with infrastructural projects whereas these cities are
increasingly more open and interconnected to the rest of the world: this means that
anything coming from anywhere could influence the project at any time.
He does not mention any form of different perceived complexities.
Ireland et al. (2012) make a strong separation between simple, complicated and complex
projects. Complicated and complex projects can be identified by determining the degree of
freedom of system components relative to the number of control tools available within the
system: if the level of freedom exceeds the number of control tools the system can be
called complex. They label these projects as Systems of Systems projects (SoS) and
distinct three types of SoSs: traditional SoSs, where an existing system is included in a
project, SoSs which require systems thinking and systems which integrate independent
assets into a larger system.
Davies and Mackenzie (2013) also identify systems of systems as the main unit of
complexity. They distinct single systems, in which several sub-components have to be
integrated, and systems of systems, which consist of multiple systems that have to be
combined into one system (figure 2.2). An example is the difference between an aircraft
and an airport: an aircraft is a system with several sub-components which must be
integrated and controlled and an airport consists of multiple systems which all need to be
combined in a system of systems (or meta-system).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
FIGURE 2.2 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SYSTEM AND A META-SYSTEM. FROM: Davies and Mackenzie (2013)
These reviews give altogether a more comprehensive definition of the two types of
complexity that were explained earlier. This split in project-complexity-type is marked in
this research as the difference between complicated and complex, where several definitions
contribute to either the definition of complicated projects or to complex projects.
Table 2.1 shows the definitions of the different sources and their contribution to either the
definition of complicated projects or the definition of complex projects.
TABLE 2.1 CATEGORISATION OF DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF PROJECT COMPLEXITY
Source
Complicated
Complex
Baccarini (1996)
Many different & interdependent parts
Williams (1999)
Structural uncertainty
Uncertainty
Chaotic, dissipative and
Thomas and Mengel (2008)
adaptive systems
Interacting dynamic
Whitty and Maylor (2009)
Independent structural complexity
Independent dynamic complexity
complexity
Interacting structural complexity
Dynamic complexity
Hertogh and Westerveld (2010)
Detail complexity
Dynamic complexity
Koppenjan, et al. (2011)
Structural complexity
Complexity of environment
Favari (2012)
Complexity of projects
Ireland, et al. (2012)
System of systems
Davies and Mackenzie (2013)
System
Meta-system
The different definitions of complex projects shown in table 2.3 and the acknowledged
sources in the previous section leads to the following formulation of project complexity:
Project complexity is the degree of ‘how complex a project is’: a project can be categorised on
an imaginary scale ranging from simple via complicated to truly complex projects. Truly complex
projects are projects which are a system of systems and in which the different sub-systems are
interconnected and influenced by each other. Project components act independent and the
relation between these components results in unexpected and unforeseeable events. Therefore
truly complex project cannot be controlled, determined or predicted: goals and boundaries are
unclear and subject to continuous change.
Complicated projects are projects with (many) interrelating components. Complex projects
are complicated projects but also have an emergent character on top of their complicated
character. This research will use the terminology of Hertogh and Westerveld (2010) (i.e.
detailed and dynamic complexity) to refer to the two types of complexity which lead to
either a complicated or a complex project.
The formulated definition already suggests some subjectivity in the assessment of project
complexity since there is a ‘scale’ of complexity and not a strong single unambiguous
definition. It is however still a general definition which covers all ranges of complexity as an
umbrella and does not mention different perceived complexities explicitly although some
sources (Thomas & Mengel, 2008; Hertogh & Westerveld, 2010) slightly indicate that
subjectivity and perceptions might play a role in project complexity. The following will
elaborate further on this topic but first the position of the author towards project complexity
needs to be made clear: is project complexity good or bad?
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler„
Albert Einstein, scientist
The quote of Albert Einstein emphasizes simplification as a solution for problems which
automatically assumes that complexity is a negative concept. So is project complexity an
inherently bad property within projects or is it a positive contributor to project quality? The
author of this thesis believes in the latter statement of that question: project complexity
leads to more valuable contributions to society in general and complexity must be ‘played’
with (Hertogh & Westerveld, 2010).
The objective that an LCP strives to achieve is not the LCP itself but a broader objective in
which the LCP makes other developments possible that are beneficial for society (Giezen,
2012). This leads to the obligation of a project to take for example its environment into
account and the public funding of projects obliges the project to justify the costs and to
clarify the societal benefits of the projects. These factors all add up to the complexity of a
project and sometimes make it a truly complex project, but they all serve for the benefit of
society.
Reduction of complexity is however suggested by some authors as a way to deal with
complexity and is for example reflected in the KISS-principle (‘Keep-It-Simple-Stupid’) of
Axelrod (1997) and within the quote of Albert Einstein formulated above.
The author of this thesis acknowledges that complexity reduction might work for some
complex products but however not for LCPs: complexity reduction would lead to the loss of
value within these projects due to their nature of enabling other developments.
So if the positive nature of project complexity within LCPs is accepted other ways besides
simplification need to be found to deal with project complexity. A first step towards this
management of project complexity is the operationalisation of the definition of project
complexity: a break-down of the definition is necessary in order to make the assessment of
project complexity within projects possible thereby making the definition workable for
constructing practice. The following part will address four authors that contributed to the
operationalisation of project complexity.
Hobday (1998) operationalises project complexity by introducing the term Complex
Products and Systems (CoPS) as a product category. A LCP is an example of CoPS, where
the term complex refers, among other things, to the number of customised components,
the breadth of required knowledge and the degree of new knowledge involved: he
developed a framework in order to assess technical complexity on a total of sixteen
elements.
Maylor (2010) designed the MODeST framework in order to assess project complexity
within projects. This model is based on five elements of complexity: Mission, Organisation,
Delivery, Stakeholders and Team. These categories each contain five elements which
contribute to project complexity. Together these 30 elements focus themselves on the
managerial complexity of projects rather than technical complexity and therefore seem to
be an addition to Hobday’s CoPS framework.
Bosch-Rekveldt (2011) operationalises the term project complexity to a far extent by
defining project complexity in the TOE-framework and thereby combines all ranges of
complexity into one model. This framework consists of 571 specific elements, divided over
Technical, Organisational and External buckets, which all together form the complexity
footprint of a project. This framework can be seen as a combination of scientific theoretical
knowledge and practical knowledge derived with interviews.
She furthermore indicates that the complexity footprint for each project needs to be
assessed individually and that the framework can assist in constructing such a complexity
footprint because it can add-up views of different involved parties and stakeholders: she
thereby indicates that different perceived complexities exist. It underlines the dynamic
character of project complexity since the complexity footprints needs to be re-assessed in
the project due to the phenomenon of dynamic complexity.
1
The original TOE-framework consisted of 50 elements, it was however adapted to the construction
industry and was therefore expanded with 7 extra elements (Bosch-Rekveldt, 2013).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Vidal, et al. (2011) give a more broad definition of project complexity by formulating
complexity as a certain part of a project which cannot be understood, foreseen or
controlled, even though that there might be a rather complete set of information available.
They however also indicate that the operationalisation of definitions of project complexity
is poor since measurement tools of project complexity are inadequate. They designed the
Analytical Hierarchy Process (a multi-criteria decision making method) in order to assess
project complexity within projects: by scoring 70 elements contributing to project
complexity the involved parties in a project can ‘score’ the overall project complexity
within a project. This method also acknowledges different perceived complexities since it
uses several respondents to score the complexity of a project.
These four models immediately show the role of perceived complexities within a project:
every assessment of project elements contributing to project complexity is a subjective
assessment and cannot be seen as a purely objective task. This makes the assessment of
project complexity a subjective matter and different perceived complexities of different
individuals appear in these assessments (Bosch-Rekveldt, 2013).
Take for example the element of ‘number of involved external stakeholders’ within projects:
some practitioners might indicate that this element is the most contributing element to
project complexity because these stakeholders can influence project performance significant
while others do not perceive any complexity in this element because they have nothing to
do with external stakeholders due to their role in the project.
It now also becomes clear how this research contributes to existing knowledge about
project complexity: by understanding perceived complexities and its consequences this
research contributes to the operationalisation of the theoretical definition of project
complexity into construction practice. It creates knowledge on how project complexity
within LCPs is assessed. This assessment will be done with the help of the TOE-framework
which also seems to be the most comprehensive framework of the four mentioned
frameworks above: it is, together with the framework of Vidal, the most elaborated
framework of the four models. The other two models (Hobday and Maylor) only address
technological or organisational complexity. Of the two elaborated models the TOEframework is primarily designed for construction projects and it was therefore seen as the
most suited framework to be used in the research.
2.2.
Perceived complexities
The previous section gave a definition and interpretation of project complexity and showed
that literature made a first step in operationalising this definition to be used in practice. In
this ‘bottom-up assessment’ of project complexity the different perceived complexities of
individuals play a role.
But how can these perceived complexities be described and understood? Literature on the
science of cognitive psychology helps in this process. By regarding theories on perceptions
it can be better understood how practitioners construct their perceived complexity.
The existence and sources of perceptions have been first researched by Brunswik (1952)
who conducted research on the origins of visual perceptions. He argued that any organism
has per definition an interface with its environment as any organism perceives its
environment differently. He designed a model which describes this interface between an
organism and its environment: this model is called the Brunswikian lens model and is
shown in figure 2.3. The lens model of Brunswik was first used for the explanation of visual
perceptions but was very soon used in order to explain the process of human judgement
(Hammond & Stewart, 1975).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
FIGURE 2.3 THE BRUNSWIKIAN LENS MODEL. FROM Figueredo et al. (2006)
The lens model describes the process of perception-building within an organism. It shows
that an organism perceives the environment by the identification of cues: these are the
ecological elements an organisms selects to build its perception upon. Since an organism is
not capable of comprehending all cues from the environment it selects certain cues in order
to come to a judgement on that environment (Hammond & Stewart, 2001).
This theory was expanded by Scherer (1978), arguing that a cue is not just noted but also
valued in the form of a perceptual judgement, this is shown in figure 2.4. These perceptual
judgements follow on each cue and then form the judgement of the environment.
FIGURE 2.4 THE LENS MODEL OF SCHERER (1978)
Vicente (2003) designs another variation on the lens model, based on Stewart and Lusk
(1994). They indicate that the cues are preceded by ‘true descriptors’ and then transformed
by an organism into subjective cues. This model is shown in figure 2.5.
FIGURE 2.5 THE LENS MODEL OF STEWART AND LUSK (1994)
Since the research concentrates on the judgement of organisms (the respondents) about
the ecology (the project complexity), the lens model seems appropriate as a starting point
to construct a framework to describe the perceptions (H. Staats, personal communication,
September 17, 2013).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The lens-models of Scherer and Stewart and Lusk were combined into a tailor-made
framework used to describe different perceived complexities in this research. It is uses the
concept of cues and subjective cues of Stewart and Lusk (1994) and the concept of
perceptual judgements of Scherer (1978). This framework is shown in figure 2.6.
FIGURE 2.6 THE ADAPTED FRAMEWORK USED TO DESCRIBE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
This framework will be used in chapter five in order to describe the different perceived
complexities of practitioners.
2.3.
Management of project complexity
The management of project complexity has gained increased attention in literature together
with the increase of complexity in projects. This research identifies interventions dealing
with project complexity and therefore needs a theoretical framework in order to better
understand and categorise these different encountered interventions.
This paragraph considers multiple theoretical sources on complexity management and
bundles them together in one overview which will be used to reflect on encountered
interventions. Together with this assessment it is important to identify which type of project
complexity the authors address with their project management approaches in order to
understand if the approaches are meant to deal with complicated or with complex projects.
Before continuing it is important to define the term project management since it is the main
topic of this section. Koppenjan, et al. (2011, p. 741) provide a comprehensive definition of
project management which will be used throughout the rest of this thesis:
“Project management here represents the complete set of decisions regarding the set up,
organisation and management of a project, taken during the various phases of the project, aimed
at coordinating the efforts of the various actors involved in order to successfully realise the
project„
Baccarini (1996) mentions the tool of integration as the most important tool to deal with
project complexity, achieved by communication, coordination and control. He does not
further elaborate on this process of integration. Integration seems to be applicable to the
management of detailed complexity within the context of his theory.
Williams (1999) indicates that traditional PM approaches do not seem to work on complex
projects since they are unable to deal with feed-back loops, goal uncertainty and emerging
problems during a project. He therefore argues to include more ‘soft’ techniques into
project management without specifying these techniques. This split between traditional and
soft approaches is believed to be the split between detailed and dynamic complexity.
Austin et al. (2002) address the complexity within the design activities of a project. They
focus on the decomposition of this complexity and mention the Analytical Design Planning
Technique as a tool in order to do so: this technique focuses itself on the design activities
within a project which have an iterative nature and can therefore not be controlled with the
help of more traditional PM tools, such as the critical path method.
This view reflects the view on project complexity as being detail complexity, proven with
the used terms ‘decomposition’ and ‘control’. This theory is therefore more suitable for
complicated projects rather than complex projects.
The following three authors all emphasize the balance between two different management
approaches and are therefore very similar to each other.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Thomas and Mengel (2008) describe how the education of project managers should be in
order to deal with project complexity. Analysis of this description led to how Thomas and
Mengel think complexity should be managed and several interventions were found. Some
examples of these interventions: change should be supported, networks should be selforganizing and uncertainty should be coped with. This view reflects the dynamic nature of
complexity and is therefore a contribution to the management of dynamic complexity.
They however also indicate that traditional management tools should be thought to more
junior project managers to teach them the basics of project manager, which is in its turn a
response to detailed complexity: both complexities are therefore treated by Mengel.
Hertogh and Westerveld (2010) see complexity as a phenomenon which can be played with
and propose a combination of two different approaches as the ideal way to deal with project
complexity. First systems management is indicated as a way to control detail complexity
which is focussed on controlling the project. The second interaction is interactive
management as a way to deal with dynamic complexity: interactive management focuses
on the externalities of projects and on stakeholders’ satisfaction. Dynamic management is
the combined application of these two approaches, which can be characterised as the
balance between control and interaction.
Koppenjan, et al. (2011) emphasize the necessity of balance within a project management
approach: the balance between control and flexibility. Both need to be combined in effective
project management and they are classified with the terms predict-and-control (with a
strong focus on front-end analysis) and prepare-and-commit (with a strong focus on
change).
Leijten (2012) focuses on the role of risks in the decision-making within complex projects.
He argues for a decision-making strategy in which risks are perceived as a central point in
decision making, not as a disadvantageous side effect. This approach grows awareness on
risks and focuses efforts on the mitigation of risks within the chosen direction instead of a
risk-trade-off which leads to inadequate decision making since the future cannot be
predicted.
Favari (2012) stresses the fact that complex projects are impossible to plan and control and
therefore suggests several key-interventions in managing complexity in urban
infrastructural projects. These interventions are based on the ‘project management second
order’ from Saynisch (2010) which is indicated with the short term ‘PM-2’. The interventions
are formulated below:
 The project sponsor needs to be made clear to all involved stakeholders in order to
achieve a highly involved project sponsor that paves the way for Project Delivery
Organisations.
 Organisational network mapping needs to be applied in order to identify all relevant
stakeholders of the project.
 Communication management is an important aspect of the project and needs to be
done by a professional part of the Project Delivery Organisation on both the strategic
and tactical level.
 All risks need to be delegated to the contractor in order to guarantee involvement of
the contractor during the entire life-cycle of the project.
It must be emphasized that these interventions are explicitly used to cope with complex
urban infrastructure projects, but they do however outline a management approach
towards project complexity and are therefore described in this section.
Bértholo (2013) mentions the shadow side of project management as the most important
concept within project management and addresses the management of this shadow as key
component within PM. The shadow refers to the negative side that every intervention has
since every intervention consists of a positive and negative contribution to the project. This
shadow origins in the split between body/mind and manifests itself within PM approaches
mainly due to a control, planning and rational thought approach: this approach assumes a
rational one-to-one relationship between situation, action and direction of the solution but it
shows however little acknowledgement for people, teams and cultures and is incapable of
dealing with disorder, chaos and unmanageability. A shadow can become the enemy of
‘others’ in the project resulting in an us-vs.-them mentality.
Addressing this shadow within project management results in a more mindful and organic
way of project management, which is build on a holistic approach of project management.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The reference to chaos, uncertainty and unmanageability of projects furthermore indicates
that this approach refers to the management of dynamic complexity.
Best, et al. (2013) also assessed different types of interventions (just like this research
intends to do) in construction practice in order to link these interventions to organisational
cultures within companies. This assessment led to three types of interventions which break
apart into 13 sub-categories of interventions. The main types are controlling interventions,
connecting interventions and actuating interventions. Their subcategories can be found in
table 2.2.
TABLE 2.2 DIFFERENT INTERVENTION TYPES. FROM: Best, et al. (2013).
Controlling interventions
Connecting interventions
Re/establish structure
Connect people
Manage the stakeholders
Create a shared vision
Manage scope
Manage relationships
Minimize discussions
Manage expectations
Actuating interventions
Encourage ownership
Learn by sharing
Encourage innovative thinking
Bring problems on the table
Bring into action instead of
thinking
Controlling interventions aim to gain control on the project, connecting interventions aim to
connect people and thoughts and actuating interventions aim to move people towards an
action or a direction. With these three types of interventions both the detailed and dynamic
complexity of projects are addressed.
Davies and Mackenzie (2013) first emphasize that there is no magical intervention to deal
with every complex project: they are all somewhat unique and therefore all need different
approaches. They also rediscover the concept of systems integration due to a better
understanding of projects as system of systems. At a systems level the project needs to be
decomposed and the interfaces need to be managed, but at a meta-systems level there
must be certain flexibility in order to cope with the uncertainty which cannot be eliminated
within complex projects: the interaction between the different systems cannot be predicted
once they are put together. They refer to this flexibility as ‘disciplined flexibility’ which
indicates a balance between meeting schedules and adapting to changing and emergent
situations. Part of this management is the ability to freeze and unfreeze systems when
necessary. The combination of the two management approaches on systems-level and on
meta-systems-level displays a management approach that focuses on both detailed and
dynamic complexity.
Davies and Mackenzie strengthen the earlier formulated view that an effective project
management approach is a combination of two types of management. They reflect these
two approaches on the two types of projects formulated earlier: systems and metasystems.
Locatelli et al. (2013) strongly connect project governance to systems engineering and
argue that systems engineering can be used in order to achieve a holistic project
governance structure within a project: it supports communication between multidisciplinary
teams and guarantees project delivery with a focus on the benefit for the project in the
entire life-cycle. Systems engineering can be seen as a very extensive tool in order to
control a project and is therefore classified as a tool which is used to manage detail
complexity.
The treated sources show a duality in possible management approaches, based on a
control-approach or an hands-off-approach: the control-approach sees projects as systems
that can be controlled, predicted and planned because they can be foreseen and forecasted.
These approaches seem to connect to detail complexity.
The hands-off-approach suggests that projects cannot be forecasted and therefore not
controlled. Situations might occur, and A might lead to B, but this is never certain in the
hands-off- approach.
Four authors mention a combined application of the two approaches as the ideal way to
deal with project complexity. This research labelled these approaches as combined
approaches, since it combines the two approaches into one vision. The contributions of the
different literature sources to these three categories can be found in table 2.3.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
TABLE 2.3 CATEGORISATION OF DIFFERENT PROJECTMANAGEMENT-APPROACHES TO DEAL WITH PROJECT
COMPLEXITY
Source
Control-approach
Hands-off-approach
Combined-approach
Baccarini (1996)
Integration
Williams (1999)
Traditional approach
Soft techniques
Austin, et al. (2002)
ADePDO
Systems management
Hertogh and Westerveld
Interactive management
Dynamic management
(2010)
Thomas and Mengel (2008)
Traditional approach
Management based on
Combination
understanding
Koppenjan, et al. (2011)
Predict-and-control
Prepare-and-commit
Combination
Leijten (2012)
Centralise risks in decision
making
Favari (2012)
Plan and control
PM-2
The shadow of projects
Bértholo (2013)
Best, et al. (2013)
Controlling
Connecting
Actuating
Davies and Mackenzie
Integration
Flexibility
Disciplined flexibility
(2013)
Locatelli, et al. (2013)
Systems engineering
-
This overview led to the construction of a framework which is used to classify the
encountered interventions further on in this research: it addresses the two different
approaches (control and hands-off) and its characteristics in table 2.4. The combination of
these two approaches leads to the most effective project management strategy to deal with
project complexity according to literature.
TABLE 2.4 TWO IDENTIFIED APPROACHES TO DEAL WITH PROJECT COMPLEXITY
Control-approach
Hands-off-approach
Characteristic
Complexity type
Detail complexity
Dynamic complexity
Based on
Deterministic view on projects
Probabilistic view on projects
Focussed on
Control
Change
Units of focus
Components of a project (details)
Entire project (holistic)
Connecting & Actuating
Intervention types
Controlling & Actuating
This framework displays an elaborated overview of the possible management approaches to
deal with project complexity and there are three complementing remarks on project
management approaches that are worth knowing.
The first is from ecologist Berlow (2010). He supports the idea of embracing complexity and
even argues that the embracing of complexity in a system can bring forward the simplest
solutions, since a comprehensive understanding of a system pinpoints the few elements
which are the most decisive for the system. This view seems to be applicable to detailed
complex systems.
The second remark comes from Whitty and Maylor (2009) who indicate that there is a lack
of known interventions to deal with truly complex projects but they also emphasize the fact
that interventions do not necessarily have to be complex, as long as they work. They
mention for example the Critical Path Method: this tool does not necessarily manage truly
complex projects (since it is incapable to deal with uncertainties) but can be effective to a
great extent within project management.
The third remark comes from Giezen (2012). He conducted research on the reduction of
complexity as project management approach to deal with the complexity. He argues that
this reduction is indeed a way to deliver a project on time and within budget but questions
the reduced value of projects: decreasing complexity leads to a decreased project value
since the project cannot function as leverage for other spatial developments but becomes a
goal in itself.
Finally, several authors (for example Von Glinow and Mohrman (1990); Cicmil, et al.
(2006); Reyes (2012); Ahern et al. (2013)) emphasize the importance of knowledge
management and learning in complex projects: dynamic complexity makes it impossible to
know everything at the start of a project and to predict, which makes the learning capability
the most important skill to deal with project management. Ahern, et al. (2013) even argues
that PM must make a shift from systems complexity to knowledge complexity.
These theories were initially not taken into account during the empirical research but they
will be mentioned further on in this thesis when chapter seven will reflect on the found
results.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
2.4.
Conclusion
Project complexity has been described in literature as either the interrelation between many
components (systems-view) or as the uncertainty and emergent character of events (edgeof-chaos-view). Both views led to a combined and general definition of truly complex
projects that is very broad and covers a wide range of complexity within projects. This
definition makes a distinction between complicated and complex projects but is unable in
drawing a hard line between them: they are elements of the same scale.
Recent literature operationalised this definition by assessing complexity within individual
projects. This research contributes to that field of knowledge: by assessing the project
complexity within LCPs with the help of the TOE-framework the different perceived
complexities come to light and the understanding of these perceived complexities
contributes therefore to the opertionalisation of the theoretical knowledge on project
complexity.
The introduction already explained that the possible implications of perceived complexities
on project performance are assessed by linking these perceived complexities to the
interventions of individuals: this chapter adds the view that the type of project complexity
determines the project management approach (for example Hertogh and Westerveld
(2010); Koppenjan, et al. (2011)) but also that the project management approach
influences the project complexity (for example Giezen (2012)). This is shown in figure 2.7.
FIGURE 2.7 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROJECT COMPLEXITY AND
PROJECTMANAGEMENT APPROACHES
These relations create the proposition that a certain perceived complexity A leads to a
certain project management approach B. This functions as a proposition within the rest of
this research and will be further elaborated in chapter three.
This chapter also showed that project management approaches dealing with project
complexity can be categorised as a control-approach, hands-off-approach or combinedapproach. The research of Best, et al. (2013) was very similar to this research (since they
also assessed interventions dealing with complexity in construction practice) and therefore
their framework of controlling, connecting and actuating interventions was used in the
identification and categorisation of interventions.
The framework constructed in this chapter to describe perceived complexities will be used
and evaluated in chapter six.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
3. Methodology
The introduction determined project complexity as a central component within modern
project management of LCPs and that little is known about the recently uncovered
perceived complexities. In order to conduct research on these perceived complexities a
decent research design had to be made, which is presented in this chapter.
This chapter will unfold the research plan which was used in order to build the knowledge
necessary to meet the objectives of this research as formulated in the introduction. It will
start by explaining the general characteristics which are the result of choices that have
been made (§3.1). These characteristics lead to a research strategy and the designed
mechanisms to ensure its quality, which is the second part of this chapter (§3.2). The
research process displays the major steps in this research and their corresponding results
(§3.4). The chapter ends with the research propositions, thereby indicating the relation
between the major topics of this research (§3.5).
3.1.
General characteristics
The introduction already explained that this research continued on the research of BoschRekveldt (2013): different perceived complexities were made clear and this research aims
to understand these perceived complexities.
This research contributes to the knowledge field of management sciences: project
complexity and its management are topics within management sciences.
Perceptions relate to the knowledge field of cognitive psychology and this research will
therefore use some knowledge of this knowledge field but will however primarily focus on
the knowledge field of management science.
It is the aim of the research to contribute to both theory and practice with this research.
Theory on perceived complexities and its implications for project management within LCPs
is limited. The introduction also showed that literature is increasingly focussed on the
operationalisation of project complexity and interventions dealing with complexity.
Practice has become increasingly interested in the phenomenon of project complexity: the
request of KING/RPA for further knowledge on this phenomenon is the prove of that
increased interests.
The research was conducted with an inductive approach. This approach was chosen because
the phenomenon of perceived complexities and its implications are little understood: it is
therefore difficult to formulate hypotheses or strong propositions with the information
available on these topics at the moment, making inductive research the appropriate
approach towards the research.
Because no strong hypothesis could be formulated on the research topics, qualitative
research opposed to quantitative research was chosen: this type of research is used to
understand phenomena and discover the ‘why’ behind these phenomena (Marshall &
Rossman, 2006), making qualitative research the appropriate form to achieve the
objectives of this research.
3.2.
Research strategy & quality
A case study was selected as design for this research and suits the needs for this research:
project complexity is inextricably connected with the context a project is located in (BoschRekveldt et al., 2011) and a case research can conduct research on a phenomenon without
extracting it from its context (Yin, 2003). In an embedded multi-case design five projects
were selected which contributed 30 respondents to the research.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Data was primarily built with two types of data-collecting: a survey and in-depth interviews.
The survey was based on the TOE-framework and asked respondents to score the TOEelements on their contribution to project complexity2. The in-depth interview was used to
understand the answers given in the survey. Chapter four will elaborate on the survey, indepth interview and their relation.
Yin (2003) indicates that a research strategy within a case study can be of a descriptive, an
explanatory and/or an exploratory nature. This research has all three characteristics:
 The descriptive nature is seen in the description of the perceived complexities of the
respondents and a list of encountered interventions dealing with complexity.
 The explanatory nature is seen in the explanations for the different perceived
complexities: by explaining the origins of perceived complexities they can be better
understood.
 The exploratory nature is seen in the exploration that was done on the implications of
different perceived complexities on projects’ performance.
Verification and validation are important factors in designing a research and performing a
research of good quality and Yin (2003) stresses the importance for internal and external
validation of the research. The application of both within this research will be elaborated
below.
Verification was done by verifying the produced data with their original sources: all the
minutes of the interviews were verified with the respondents in order to verify if they were
properly constructed. A case report was produced for each case which was then again
verified with the project managers of these cases in order to verify if no biased information
had entered the case study.
Internal validation was done with the help of several techniques. Triangulation, explanation
building and sensitising concepts were used as tools to strengthen internal validation. All
three will be explained below.
Triangulation refers to the process where at least three sources contribute to an outcome
(Guion et al., 2011). In this research triangulation was obtained by funding outcomes on at
least three different respondents and preferably a combination of sources (interviews and
survey results).
Explanation building is a way of data analyses that allows the researcher to extract internal
valid information of the available data set (Yin, 2003). This process will be explained in
detail in chapter four.
Sensitising concepts refer to the way a researcher regards the data-set (Blumer, 1954). It
is used to formulate a direction of research and formulate propositions which are used
further on in the research. This technique was especially applicable for the research on the
implications of perceived complexities.
Internal validation was furthermore applied by discussing the intermediate results of the
research with four project managers who also participated in the research. This validation
confirmed the direction of the research and provided useful insights to proceed with the
research.
External validation was done with two techniques: expert meetings and literature
validation.
The expert meeting consisted of a KING/RPA event where approximately 30 construction
practitioners participated in a group-discussion on the topic of this thesis. This discussion
was initiated with a short presentation about the results of this research.
Literature validation is the process of reflecting the found results on literature in order to
discuss the results and/or validate the found conclusions of the research.
2
The construction of the survey was not part of this research: it was obtained from the
research of Bosch-Rekveldt (2013)
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
3.3.
Research process
The research process was based on the framework for research formulated by Oost and
Markenhof (2002). This framework was used in order to create a tailor-made design for the
research conducted. This design is displayed in figure 3.1.
FIGURE 3.1 DIFFERENT PHASES OF THE RESEARCH. ADAPTED FROM Oost and Markenhof (2002)
Every research phase of Oost and Markenhof (2002) was processed within this research.
Table 3.1 shows the research phase formulated by Oost and Markenhof (2002), the way
this phase was applied within the research and the section in which it was processed.
TABLE 3.1 APPLICATION OF THE RESEARCH PHASES OF Oost and Markenhof (2002)
Research phase
Application within this research
Start
The prior research of Bosch-Rekveldt (2013)
Question
Research question
Strategy
Embedded multi-case study design
Collect data
Survey & interviews
Interview minutes and case reports
Material building
Codification of interviews and descriptions of perceived
Adapting data
complexities
Data analysis
Explanation building & descriptive research
Hypothesis formulation & validation
Interpreter data
Answer
Conclusions
3.4.
Processed in
Chapter 1
Chapter 1
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 5 &
Appendix B
Chapter 6
Chapters 6 & 7
Chapter 8
Research propositions
Every research needs a hypothesis or at least a proposition to give direction to the research
(Yin, 2003). The introduction and chapter two already indicated propositions and this
section will explicitly sum-up all propositions that were used to aim the research: because
of the exploratory and explanatory nature of this research it must be emphasized that the
statements formulated below are propositions and not hypotheses. They are only used to
guide the research and not intended to be rejected or confirmed.
1. Perceived complexities originate in the role, education and/or interests of practitioners.
This research aims to understand perceived complexities and its origins. The number of
possible sources for perceived complexity is however gigantic and too much for this
research. It was therefore decided to focus the research on the role, education and
interests of practitioners: these three sources were chosen based on the tacit knowledge of
the supervisors and the researcher.
The research did however not exclude other sources as possible sources if they popped up
during the in-depth interviews: it just did not look explicitly for other sources besides the
mentioned three.
2. Perceived complexities influence interventions dealing with complexity.
This proposition was derived from literature in chapter two where it was concluded that
project complexity influences project management. It was also concluded that project
complexity was subjective and that project management consisted of interventions dealing
with project complexity. The proposition is that these interventions are therefore influenced
by perceived complexities.
3. Interventions dealing with project complexity influence performance of projects
Interventions aim to influence the performance of projects by definition, regardless of the
result of the intervention.
4. Perceived complexities influence project performance
This research aims to understand the implications of different perceived complexities on
project performance: perceived complexities influence interventions (proposition two) and
interventions influence project performance (proposition three) therefore perceived
complexities influence project performance.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The introduction already described the four objectives of this research and the propositions
make the interrelation between these four objectives clear. The research objectives are
described below and it is indicated which proposition influences which objective.
 Perceived complexities (proposition 1)
 Interventions dealing with complexity (propositions 2 and 3)
 Implications of perceived complexities (proposition 4)
 Implications for project management
The research objectives and their interrelations are also graphically visualised in figure 3.2.
FIGURE 3.2 INTERRELATION OF THE RESEARCH’S OBJECTIVES AND PROPOSITIONS
The blocks used in figure 3.3 are referred to as content blocks and they are used to break
down the contents of the research in four clear sub-parts.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
4. Research design: case study set-up
Chapter three introduced the case study as the appropriate research form to answer the
formulated research questions. This chapter presents the detailed set-up of this case study.
By presenting the case study design (§4.1), the case protocol (§4.2), the selection of the
cases (§4.3) and the performed data analyses (§4.4) this chapter explains how the case
studies were conducted. Chapter five will present the results of this process.
4.1.
Case design
The research was conducted as an embedded multiple-case study: this design consisted of
multiple cases contributing to the data set with sub-elements embedded in each case (Yin,
2003). The presented research blocks can be seen as the embedded elements in this case
study, which leads to the following embedded elements:
 Sources of perceived complexities
 The influence of perceived complexities on interventions
 The impact of different perceived complexities on project performance
 The impact of different perceived complexities on project management
Yin (2003) indicates that the research design must be a logical route for ‘getting from here
to there’. He mentions five important components in a case design:
1. A study’s question
2. Its propositions
3. Its unit(s) of analysis
4. The logic linking the data to the propositions
5. The criteria for interpreting the findings
The application of all five components of Yin (2003) is elaborated below.
The study’s question and its sub-questions were formulated in the introduction of this
thesis.
The propositions of the research were formulated in chapter 3.4.
The units of analysis consisted primarily of construction projects in The Netherlands. The
actors involved in these construction projects were the subordinated units of these projects.
Every case consisted of one construction project with five, six or seven respondents
functioning as subordinated units. It is desirable that the different cases can be compared
with each other and it is therefore desirable to group the different respondent in identical
categories. It was chosen to categorise the respondents based on their roles. The
framework to do this was based on Hertogh and Westerveld (2010), they identified the civil
principal, the project delivery organization, the constructor, non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) and local stakeholders.
The following groups of actors were identified based on this idea:
 The civil principal. This group consisted of all respondents which acted on behalf of one
of the public bodies that functioned as client. This includes all respondents working at
funding agencies and respondents working in the same organisation as the Project
Delivery Organisation but from a principals’ perspective. Advisors to the civil principal
were also categorised as civil principal.
 The Project Delivery Organisation. This group consisted of all respondents that were a
member of the Project Delivery Organisation responsible for the execution of the
project. They are often employed in the same organisations as the civil principals.
Advisors to the Project Delivery Organisation were also categorised as Project Delivery
Organisation.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
 Local stakeholders. This group consisted of all respondents that were an involved local
stakeholder. NGOs, such as organised neighbourhood initiatives, were also considered
as local stakeholders.
 The contractor. This group consisted of all respondents that worked for the involved
contractor.
The mentioned actors and their interrelations are graphically displayed in figure 4.1.
FIGURE 4.1 OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT ROLE-GROUPS IDENTIFIED IN THIS RESEARCH
The logic linking the data to the propositions was created by performing data-analyses. By
applying explanation building and descriptive research these data-analyses were
performed: their application will be explained in detail in chapter 4.4.
The criteria to interpret the results were obtained by internal and external validation as
described in the previous chapter and performed in chapter seven.
The case study started with a survey on project complexity. This survey was based on the
TOE-framework and asked the respondents to rank 57 pre-defined elements that might
contribute to project complexity on their actual contribution to project complexity.
Respondents could score an element from 0 to 4, where a 0 meant ‘not contributing to
project complexity’ and a 4 ‘contributing in a high degree to project complexity’. A list of
these elements can be found in appendix C. It also asked respondents to rank the technical,
organisational and external elements as groups relatively to each other.
After the survey the in-depth interviews were conducted (the interview questions can be
found in appendix A). The interview consisted of three parts, was semi-structured and
consisted of open questions.
First, all respondents were asked about their role, educational background, work experience
and interests in the project. This information was used to understand the person behind the
perception and to verify the connection of these aspects to the actual perception.
Second, all respondents were asked on their top-3 TOE-elements contributing to complexity
(these top-3 lists were derived from the survey). The objective of this phase was to clarify
these top-3 examples in order to understand the perceptions of the respondents.
Respondents were therefore explicitly asked to provide examples and make their top-3 lists
explicit.
Third, all respondents were confronted with the top-3 of their project manager in order to
grasp their opinions on different perceived complexities.
The research strived for anonymity by naming the respondents as anonymous as possible in
order to obtain as much ‘uncoloured’ information as possible. The respondents will therefore
remain anonymous within this research and the cases will not be mentioned by name or
geographical position.
4.2.
Case protocol
The validity of the case research was enhanced by following a specified case protocol. This
protocol made sure that the researcher followed the same procedure for each interview
thereby preventing respondents from coming biased by the researcher.
All respondents were notified of the research with the same e-mail prior to the interviews.
This message explained in short the goal of the research and the time needed to conduct
the in-depth interviews. Most respondents already filled in the survey approximately nine
months before the interview (round 1); those who did not were asked to fill in the survey at
that moment (round 2). The survey was in both rounds exactly the same.
The interviewer did not study extra materials about the projects prior to the interviews: this
ensured an unbiased interviewer and at the same time created the opportunity to study the
influence of different perceived complexities: by using the different perceptions of the
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
respondents to construct an image of the project, the interviewer experienced the effects of
different perceived complexities on that image in first person.
First, all five project managers were interviewed thereby verifying their personal top-3 lists.
All other respondents were then confronted with the actualised top-3 elements of their
project manager in order to evoke their reaction on the differences. Respondents were only
confronted with the top-3 elements that were confirmed as valid by the project managers.
Prior to each interview, the respondents (30 in total) received the same introduction of the
interviewer, the research and the interview itself (this introduction can also be found in
appendix A). The interview consisted of 17 open questions for project managers and 18
open questions for all other respondents. Some questions were categorised as must-haves:
these questions were always asked on all respondents. Other questions were categorised as
nice-to-haves: these questions were only asked if the respondents and the time provided
the necessary room to ask these questions. Interviews took approximately 60-90 minutes.
During the interview all respondents were confronted with the three elements that they
pointed out as top-3 contributors to project complexity in the survey. If the survey was
answered during the first round, the respondents were asked if the chosen elements were
still applicable to the current situation. The interview tended to focus itself on all the
elements that were still applicable, but also left room to look in retro perspective to the
elements that became less applicable and how this occurred.
During the interviews all respondents were encouraged to illustrate their answers with
striking examples, making the perceived complexities better to understand. The comments
of the respondents on their top-3 elements (open field in the survey) were also read out
loud to the respondent in order to help the respondents memorize their given answers.
At the end all respondents had the possibility to say whatever they still had to say on
whatever topic they thought would contribute to the research.
All interviews were taped with the permission of the respondents and elaborated into
interview minutes. These minutes were checked with all respondents in order to verify if the
elaboration had been done correct.
These minutes served as input for the project reports. These project reports summarized
the given answers for all respondents within the project: it thereby provided tailor-made
feedback for each project. These project reports were also validated with the project
manager of the specific project to check if no biased information (e.g. strategic remarks)
entered the research.
4.3.
Case selection
Five construction projects were selected to function as cases in the case study. All five
cases were selected from the KING/RPA network. The KING/RPA network consists of
multiple construction projects which are affiliated to the network in order to exchange
knowledge and experiences between each other.
This indicates that all projects in the KING/RPA network have a desire to learn from each
other and share knowledge which leads to a high expected degree of cooperation with the
research.
The participants for each project were selected by the project manager and can all be
classified as construction professionals. This self-selection ensured cooperation and is
furthermore in line with the view that this research is of explorative nature: since no
hypothesis is formulated whatsoever there is no desire to conduct research on a specific
type of respondent within each project. It was however the aim to account for all four types
of actors within each case as presented earlier (civil principal, Project Delivery Organisation,
contractor and NGOs). Unfortunately none of the cases managed to account for all four
groups of actors.
The cases were selected based on the wide variety in typology, thereby enhancing the
representativeness of the five cases for the Dutch construction industry. All cases were in
the preparation or construction phase during the research which increased validity: this
made sure that respondents were ‘living’ and experiencing the complexity during the
interviews and did not had to rely on their memories.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
All projects involved the construction of a civil structure (wet or dry) or a utility
construction. There were one or more public bodies represented in every project and there
was always a public client. With CAPEX in a range from €35 million to €500 million or more
3
and several stakeholders involved, all projects could be called ‘complex’ if the rough
outlines were to be regarded. One project was still in the preparation phase, meaning that
it was not been put on the market to find a contractor. One was in the design phase (a
contractor was awarded with the D&C contract and was designing the project) and three
were in the construction phase, where two of them were expected to be completed within a
year from the research. For one project however, the scope was changed during
construction phase which led to preparations that could result in an extension of the
construction phase.
The cases were initially selected on the wide variety in the perceived complexities of the
respondents in the first round of surveying. This variety might however been reduced
during the research since new respondents were added to the cases that did not participate
in round one of the survey.
Table 4.1 gives an overview of the five projects selected for the case study.
TABLE 4.1 OVERVIEW OF THE SELECTED PROJECTS AND THEIR CORRESPONDING PHASES
#
Project
Phase
1
New metro and bus station in urban area
Preparation phase
4.4.
2
New ship lock in rural area
Design phase
3
New museum in rural area
Construction phase
4
New metro station in urban area
Construction phase
5
Expansion of a train station / development of the
near area around the train station
Construction phase / preparation phase
Data analysis
Explanation building and descriptive research were performed in order to analyse the
available data which consisted of the minutes of the interviews. These minutes were all
checked with the respondents in order to verify them.
The explanation building resulted in the formulation of hypotheses which were used to
answer the research questions on sources of perceived complexities and on the impact of
different perceived complexities on project performance.
The interviews were conducted in Dutch. In order to prevent falsification of the data due to
translation, the different paragraphs of the interviews that were used for data analyses
were not translated. This translation was only done on the interpretations of the researcher
on these paragraphs, which decreased the chance of falsification due to translation.
4.4.1. Descriptive research
Descriptive research is used in order to make large amounts of data manageable and
thereby provide an opportunity for further analyses (Yin, 2003): by describing the
phenomena that were encountered more insights were created. Descriptive research was
used to create ‘secondary data sources’.
The descriptive research led to three secondary data sources (figure 4.2): descriptions of
perceived complexities, case reports and an overview of encountered interventions dealing
with project complexity. The descriptions of perceived complexities (appendix B) and the
case reports (chapter five) were also used in the process of explanation building. The list of
management interventions will be presented in chapter six.
The relation between the secondary sources is justified with the summary-aided approach
from Miles and Huberman (1994). This model indicates a strategy to perform data-analysis
and was used to design the descriptive research.
3
Respondents of the most expensive project do not agree on this sum, but it is clear that
€500 million is the minimum cost of this project. This exact amount is therefore unclear.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
FIGURE 4.2 THE RESULTS OF THE DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH
The details of all three secondary types of data-sources will be described in the following.
1. Descriptions of perceived complexities
All perceived complexities were first described and reflected upon. This was done based on
the interview minutes and with the help of the derivative Brunswik lens model which was
constructed in chapter two and shown again in figure 4.3.
FIGURE 4.3 THE LENS MODEL USED TO DESCRIBE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
The cues in this framework are the top-3 lists of TOE-elements: the TOE-elements function
as independent variable because they are determined and suggested by the researcher. All
other positions in the framework (perceived complexity, subjective cues, perceptual
judgements and final judgements) were derived from the selected cues and the explanation
provided by the respondents in the in-depth interviews. Perceived complexities are thereby
correctly described with a method based on existing knowledge (H. Staats, personal
communication, September 17, 2013).
Cues were transformed into subjective cues: these subjective cues were derived from the
answer of the respondent and answer the question ‘what the respondent really meant by
selecting that element’. A perceptual judgement on that subjective cue was often given by
the respondent. The sum of all perceptual judgements forms the complete perceived
complexity of a respondent.
The subjective cue and perceptual judgement were left blank if there was no information
available on the subjective cue or the perceptual judgement.
A reflection on the perceived complexity was performed once it was described with the help
of the framework. This reflection focussed on the lens model and the connection between
the perceived complexity and the role, education and interests of the respondent.
Besides a reflection on the perception, a reflection on the differences between the project
manager and the respondent was also described.
2. Case reports
After constructing the descriptions of the perceived complexities all interviews were
summarized in case reports which can be found in chapter five. These reports give an
overview of the results of the interviews and the survey and consist of three independent
parts.
The first part of the report displays a description of the project and a judgement of the
researcher on the performance of the project.
The second part focuses itself on the different perceived complexities and start with an
overview of the survey results: these results were the starting point for the in-depth
interviews which were summarized below the survey results.
The third part concentrates on the reactions that respondents gave on differences in
perceived complexities. It starts with an overview of the differences between the
respondents and the project manager and then summarizes the reactions of respondents.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Two types of indicators were designed that gave more insight in the perceived complexities
and its differences: the complexity score and the unanimity score. Both will be explained
below.
The complexity score gives an indication of the degree of complexity that the respondent
experiences. This score can then be used relatively to other respondents within the same
case to give an indication of how complex the respondent experiences the project. The
score was derived with the formula shown in formula 4.1:
sumofthescoresonthedifferentelements
maximumscorepossible
FORMULA 4.1 COMPLEXITY SCORE
The unanimity score gives an indication of the degree of unanimity within the case. It
counts the differences between answers of respondents and divides this difference by the
maximal possible difference: this gives an indication of how different the answers are
between respondents (formula 4.2).
Take for example a case with four respondents. For each element (57 in total) the
differences between the scores have to be counted and divided by the maximum difference
possible. This percentage has to be extracted from 1 in order to get the unanimity score.
This is shown in the formula below where A is the score of respondent 1 on the element, B
the score of respondent 2 on the element, C the score of respondent 3 on the element and
D the score of respondent 4 on the element.
1
∑
|A
|A C|
|A D|
|B C|
|B D|
B|
maximumdifferencepossibleinelement ∗ 57
|C
D|
FORMULA 4.2 UNANIMITY SCORE
3. List of interventions dealing with complexity
The research focussed on multiple groups of interventions because complexity is managed
on two levels: on a case level and on a personal level. On a case level the complexity is
managed in general terms, on a personal level the complexity is managed for each
respondent individually. The research also focused on a third group of interventions:
specific interventions used in order to manage the different perceptions on complexity.
All three groups were extracted from the interviews with the help of field coding. After
coding the interviews, the researcher summarized and interpreted the different
interventions that were coded. By doing so, the data became comparable making it easier
to categorise the different interventions in literature.
These three data sources, derived from the interviews, were used to conduct the rest of the
research. Each data source corresponds with a content block as described in chapter three.
Table 4.2 gives an overview of the data sources, where they can be found in this thesis and
the content block that they contribute to.
TABLE 4.2 DATA SOURCES AND THE CONTENT BLOCKS THAT THEY SERVE
Data source
Results
CB 1
CB 2
Interview minutes
Appendix B
Descriptions of perceived
complexities
Case reports
Chapter five
List of interventions dealing
with complexity
CB 3
CB 4
Chapter six
4.4.2. Explanation building
After the production of the secondary data-sources the process of explanation building
started. Explanation building is a certain type of pattern matching and is used to explain the
‘why’ behind certain phenomena (Yin, 2003).
Explanation building starts with an initial hypothesis which is a certain explanation for a
phenomenon. This initial hypothesis is then tested within each individual data-source (i.e.
the interview minutes) to see if the hypothesis is valid for that search. If so, the hypothesis
is tested in the next source. If not, the hypothesis is altered in such a way that it fits the
data source.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The formulation of the initial hypothesis was also done based on an altered model of Miles
and Huberman (1994): three sources led to the formulation of initial hypotheses that were
used in the explanation building process. This approach is shown in figure 4.4.
FIGURE 4.4 ALTERED SUMMARY-AIDED APPROACH (Miles & Huberman, 1994) USED FOR EXPLANATION BUILDING
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5. Results of the case studies
The perceived complexities of construction practitioners differ from one to another. It is
argued in the introduction that it is desirable to know why these differences occur, what
their consequences are and how construction professionals deal with complexity in practice.
Little is known about these two subjects, left alone the implications of differences in
perceived complexities on the construction project.
Chapter four described the case study set-up and this chapter will provide the results of the
case studies in the form of the project reports. It will give insights into perceived
complexities and its implications by answering the following sub-questions:
 How can perceived complexities be described? (sub-question A)
 How can perceived complexities of construction practitioners be categorised? (subquestion C)
 What is the link between perceived complexities and interventions dealing with project
complexity? (sub-question D)
 What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance?
(sub-question F)
All five cases (§5.1 to §5.5) begin with a case description and a judgement of the
researcher on the case performance. Then all perceived complexities of the respondents are
described for each case followed by a description of the opinion of the respondents about
differences in perceived complexities and their consequences. Each case is concluded at the
end of each report. The conclusion of this chapter will answer the formulated research
questions (§5.6).
5.1.
Case report 1: new metro and bus station in urban area
This case covered the construction of a new bus station which would also partly function as
a metro station. The bus station was build at the end of a metro line, so it would become an
important transfer for passengers leaving and entering the metro.
The metro was built on an elevated level two floors up from ground level. The construction
of the bus station would focus on the first level en the ground level thereby providing the
transfer between bus and metro. Once finished the bus station would have an important
regional function in public transportation.
The ground level consisted of multiple bus platforms, allowing passengers to enter and
leave the bus. A large bicycle storage provided passengers the opportunity to park their
bicycle at a safe place. The first level provided necessary services to passengers, such as
shops, food and other leisure functions. The second level housed the platforms to enter and
leave the metro. The total costs of the project were estimated by the respondents at €35
million.
The project performance was judged as poor by the author of this thesis. Ten years before
the start of the research the first plans were already designed by a renowned architecture
firm. The project had however not been finished during the research, nor had it really
started: the project was still in the preparation phase and the tender had to be brought to
the market in order to find a contractor.
Because the metro line had to land on the second floor of the bus station and the
construction was delayed severely, the decision was made to disconnect the construction of
the carcass and the rest of the contract in order not to hinder the construction of the metro
line. The carcass was therefore already built during the research. The completion of the
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
station (including the facilities necessary to operate the metro) was however still in the
preparation phase.
Approximately one year before the research the project was put on hold since there were
too many uncertainties in the project. During the research the project was still on hold.
Many actors were identified in the project. First there was the Project Delivery Organisation
which was assembled by one of the municipal departments. The term Project Delivery
Organisation is however somewhat strongly stated since there was no fixed PDO. Besides
this PDO there was also another PDO responsible for the construction of the metro line.
Important interfaces between the two projects were the ICT facilities and the carcass, which
hence had been constructed.
The same municipal organisation delivering the Project Delivery Organisation also
functioned as civil principal. This agency was therefore both responsible for translating the
political ambition into an assignment and translating this assignment into a tender. A
funding agency was involved as sponsor of the project (so the financing did not came from
the municipality itself).
The project manager suggested six respondents for this case; an overview of the different
respondents is given in figure 5.1 and in table 5.1.
FIGURE 5.1 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 1 ON ROLE-GROUPS
TABLE 5.1 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 1
#
Role
1
Project manager
Stakeholder Group
Project Delivery Organisation
2
Civil client (municipality)
Civil principal
3
Interface manager of metro line
Project Delivery Organisation (advisor)
4
Former project leader engineering company*
Project Delivery Organisation
5
Project leader funding agency (project sponsor)
Civil principal
6
Former construction manager and technical
Project Delivery Organisation
manager*
* These respondents were not active on the project anymore during the interviews. It was decided that their
perceived complexity was still valid, because both had been active on the project for a long time and were only
recently removed from the project.
5.1.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity
The respondents within this case were very much aligned when it came to the perceived
complexities. Almost all perceptions focused themselves on the same problems within the
project and all respondents explained how these problems affected their part of the project.
The results of the survey can be found in table 5.2.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
TABLE 5.2 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY-RESULTS OF CASE 1. THE NUMBER OF THE RESPONDENT IS INDICATED
FOLLOWED BY THE RANKING OF THE TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL AND EXTERNAL ELEMENTS RELATIVELY TO
EACH OTHER. THE TOP-3 TOE-ELEMENTS ARE THEN SHOWED FOLLOWED BY THE COMPLEXITY SCORE. A
STRIKE-THROUGH MEANS THAT AN ELEMENT HAD BECOME LESS VALID IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE SURVEY
AND THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW.
T O E Top-3 element
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
C-score
#
1
3
1
2
Interfaces between
different disciplines
Contract type
Trust between the PDO
and the contractor
Time pressure
57%
Number of contracts and
their interfaces
Diversity in stakeholders'
interests
Discontinuity in staffing
Time pressure
44%
Interfaces with other
projects
Time pressure
50%
2
Capacity and skills
availability
Capacity and skills
availability
Discontinuity in
staffing
Nature of the
location
Resource availability
2
3
1
2
3
3
1
2
4
3
2
1
5
3
1
6
3
1
2
Number of clients
Number of contracts and
their interfaces
Time pressure
43%
43%
33%
All respondents mentioned the pressure created by the adjacent metro line as mayor
contributing element to project complexity. Most respondents perceived this pressure as
time pressure, but the project manager and project engineer also indicated organisational
pressure because two PDOs were working on the same project. The pressure was also
created due to the strong focus of the municipality on the metro-project and its delivery
deadline: this empowered the metro line to intervene strongly in the bus station.
The civil client tried to manage this complexity by trying to establish a joint project bureau
in which both parties would be represented thereby smoothening their interfaces. He,
together with the interface manager, both suggested temporary solutions for the metro
facilities as possibility to relieve pressure off the bus station. The construction manager
created time by planning parts of the project parallel instead of sequential thereby
minimising the room for error.
The second topic mentioned by almost all respondents (except for the project manager and
construction manager) was the complexity due to the process of decision making. Several
respondents mentioned the great number of municipal agencies as cause of this complexity
because decision making was significantly harder with many parties defending their own
‘kingdom’. The civil client perceived problems in the separation between the civil principal
and the funding agency which caused a lack of ownership between all parties: he created
this ownership by bringing them together in one consultation. The project manager tried to
cope with this complexity by pro-actively creating solutions that could speed up the process
of decision-making.
The third topic that was considered to be complex was the Project Delivery Organisation
itself. Both project manager and civil client mentioned the lack of knowledge within the
team, especially when it came to tendering. Other respondents indicated the discontinuity
within the PDO was contributing to project complexity. This even became apparent within
the process of interviewing: two of the six respondents were removed from the project
during the research.
The project manager tried to manage this complexity by focussing his effort on his team
and the interfaces within his team. He also kept in close contact with line-management of
his own organisation in order to establish a sound PDO with a long-term commitment. He
also increased redundancy by appointing assistants on every role in the team that could
replace people if necessary. The civil client tried to support the project manager by
arranging coaches for him, helping him in performing his job.
The D&C contract seemed to enhance the complexity within the project. The civil client
deliberately enhanced project complexity by choosing this type of contract, believing that
this would contribute to the quality of the project. He acknowledged the lack of experience
within the PDO with this contract type but believed that the team should learn this way of
tendering since it was more beneficial to society in general. The construction manager
perceived this contract type as a complex factor, since the interfaces with the adjacent
project became harder to manage for the team: details could only be discussed between
contractors because they would be responsible for the design.
The project leader of the funding agency indicated the lack of financial resources as a
complex element in the project and indicated this lack of resources as the main problem
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
within the project. The civil client however disagreed on this point and stated that there was
too much money available for the project. This indicated noise in the problem formulation
between actors, which was also experienced by the interviewer: it took all six interviews to
fully comprehend the project and the different complexities that played a role within the
project.
When it came to the interventions both the interface manager and project leader of the
funding agency indicated that they felt powerless in managing these problems since they
did not have direct influence in this process but were however affected by this complexity.
Their contribution to the project was very limited since they were waiting for a decision
before they could play an active role in the project: both had not received an official
assignment since no decision had been taken.
The project leader of the engineering firm and the construction manager did play active
roles in the project but they also felt like they had few possible interventions to manage the
complexity. They did feel affected by the problems created due to project complexity.
5.1.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities
Table 5.3 shows the scores of all respondents on the top-3 TOE-elements of the project
manager. In this case, the respondents were only confronted with the difference on the first
two elements since the project manager indicated that the element of ‘trust between the
PDO and the contractor’ was not based on experiences within this specific project but within
previous projects.
TABLE 5.3 SCORES OF RESPONDENTS OF CASE 1 ON THE TOP-3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER. THE
NUMBERS CORRESPOND WITH THE NUMBERS GIVEN IN TABLE 5.1 THE PROJECT MANAGER IS PROJECTED IN
THE ORANGE CIRCLE. A 0 MEANS ‘NOT CONTRIBUTING TO COMPLEXITY’ A 4 MEANS ‘HIGHLY CONTRIBUTING TO
COMPLEXITY’.
Trust between the PDO and the
Interfaces between different
Capacity and skills availability
disciplines
contractor
Table 5.4 shows the summary of the reactions of respondents on the questions about
different perceived complexities.
TABLE 5.4 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 1 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES, THE DIFFERENCE IN SCORES WITH THE PROJECT MANAGER AND ON THEIR OPINION ABOUT
DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
Remarks on differences with the PM
Opinion on different perceived complexities
#
Aware?
1
Yes
It is important to know the perceptions of
each other in order to know where
sensitivities lie
2
Yes
Element was not perceived as contributing
It is important to account for different
to complexity above average: it is a
perceptions within a team in order to
normal element in each project
complement each other
3
Yes
Realized that the perception of the PM is
It is important to explain your perception to
understandable
others. The question is how
4
Yes
Elements were not perceived as contributing
Differences are not important but might
to complexity above average: they are
cause a strategically advantage situation
normal elements in each project*
for one party
5
No
Not enough information available to judge
No judgement given
these elements
6
Yes/No
Realized that the perception of the PM is
It is important to reduce differences by
understandable, but not enough
providing every team member with the
information available to judge these
same information
elements
* the interviewer accidentally biased this respondent by telling the respondent by mistake that the score on the
element ‘interfaces between different disciplines’ was low where it actually was equally high scored.
Unanimity score: the unanimity score of this project was 63%, meaning that the respondents
achieved unanimity within the survey of 63% based on all scores of all 57 elements.
Two respondents, the construction manager and the project manager, indicated that the
different perceived complexities were a negative item leading to problems in the execution
of the project. The project manager indicated that he did not manage perceived
34 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
complexities actively in the project. The civil client however, who had a lot of experience in
the construction industry, saw the differences as a positive contributor to the result but
experienced difficulties in transferring his own perceived complexity. The same goes for the
interface manager.
The civil client indicated multiple interventions to deal with different perceived complexities.
Most important was his vision to surround himself with people that had different
management styles and different perceived complexities. All perceived complexities in the
team were accounted for by doing so. He also made use of interpreters between him and
the PDO in order to transfer his own perceived complexity to the team.
The interface manager was confronted with different perceived complexities when he tried
to communicate his own perception: that perceived complexity was rarely understood by
others. The interface manager had a strong opinion about project complexity: he argued
that not the technical challenges but the organisational challenges created project
complexity, especially when it came to the ICT within projects. He argued that the ICT is
not complex within a project but in order to design the ICT a good plan of usage is needed.
This plan of usage explains the detailed usage of the project and can be used in order to
design all required ICT systems. If this plan is absent, ICT is becoming complex since it has
no funded plan to base itself on.
This view was however rarely understood by other actors in projects which resulted in a
strong desire to find ways to exchange perceived complexities. The interface manager did
however not found a way to do so.
The project leader of the engineering firm acknowledged differences in perceived
complexities but did not think that this was always a problem: as long as all actors
understood the complexity of the project there would be no problem. If however one of the
parties understood project complexity better than others it could use this knowledge to
create a strategically advantage position for itself. In the view of the project leader the
perceived complexities were based on interests and could therefore not be altered or
changed: they were seen as challenges to deal with.
The project leader of the funding agency was aware of different perceived complexities but
indicated that she was not affected by these differences. This is because her role in the
project was not active enough in order to be confronted with these different perceived
complexities.
5.1.3. Overall case conclusion
Although the project did not look very complex on the surface all respondents indicated that
the project was complex. Complexity was mainly created due to the organizational set-up of
the civil principal, the inexperienced, split, and unstable PDO and the pressure created by
the deadline of the adjacent metro line.
The perceived complexities within this case were notable unanimous: with a score of 63%
and a great resemblance in the chosen top-3 elements the respondents agreed in high
degree about project complexity. This complexity seemed to cause problems which
hindered the progress of the project but the respondents did not agree on the necessary
solutions to solve these problems and even contradicted each other in the suggested
solutions: some said that more budget should be made available while others stressed the
importance of shift decision making while again others emphasized the improvement of the
skills of the PDO as crucial solution.
Project performance seemed to be affected by the perceived complexities since they led to
a lack of interventions: when it came to actual interventions in order to deal with
complexity, the problems in the project or to create future solutions, many respondents
indicated that they felt powerless and had no interventions to deal with project complexity.
They were affected in their role by project complexity but could not manage it. It looked as
if the perceived complexities paralysed the respondents, feeling victims of a situation they
could not influence or manage. Even the project manager felt powerless in some degree: he
sometimes did not feel completely in control of the project and felt dependent on other
parties in dealing with project complexity.
There were challenging opinions on the impact of different perceived complexities on
project performance. Almost all respondents indicated the different perceived complexities
35 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
as a negative phenomenon, leading to poor project performance since they caused
miscommunication and cost time and energy.
An exception to this opinion was the civil client. He was the only one that indicated that
complexity could have a positive effect on the project (due to the D&C contract) and he was
the only one that saw the different perceived complexities as beneficial to project
performance. He was therefore also the only one who identified several ways to deal with
them without trying to alter them.
5.2.
Case report 2: new ship lock in rural area
This case covered the renewal of a lock. An existing floodgate had to be converted to a
shipping lock close to a rural village. Besides the lock, a new bridge had to connect both
sides of the water in order to connect a relatively busy road to the village. The total costs of
the project were estimated at €50 million which made the renewal a relatively small project
compared to other lock-projects.
There were challenges in the project when it came to the inland waterways. The lock had to
be constructed in a channel with a dead end and with many water dependent companies
behind the project. Since these companies needed regular supplies through inland
waterways the construction could not hinder these inland waterways too much.
The project was tendered as a D&C contract and was awarded to a contractor. At the
moment of research the contractor was busy designing the project in detail and
construction had not been commenced yet. The design phase however led to a couple of
problems: a legal process had been started up at the council of state because the public
participation process had provided too little space for public participation according to the
inland waterway agency. The Project Delivery Organisation and the constructor were also
arguing on the detailed designs that the contractor delivered.
Project performance at the time was therefore judged as good, but the forecasted
performance of the project was uncertain since there were some indications that progress
was about to stall.
The civil principal in this case was a ministerial department and the Project Delivery
Organisation was a public agency responsible for the water security. An important NGO in
the project was the inland waterway agency, responsible for defending the interests of the
inland skippers. The participating contractor functioned as main contractor with several sub
contractors underneath.
The project manager suggested six respondents for this case; an overview of the different
respondents is given in figure 5.2 and in table 5.5.
FIGURE 5.2 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 2 ON ROLE-GROUPS
TABLE 5.5 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 2
#
Role
Stakeholder group
1
Project manager
Project Delivery Organisation
2
Juridical advisor
Project Delivery Organisation
3
Contract manager
Project Delivery Organisation
4
Environment manager
Project Delivery Organisation
5
Regional coordinator inland waterway
Local stakeholder
6
Project manager
Contractor
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.2.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity
The respondents showed different perceived complexities with all TOE-categories
represented at the number one position and a wide variety in TOE-elements in the top-3
lists (table 5.6). The two problems that were described in the introduction formed the
central parts in the interviews.
TABLE 5.6 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY-RESULTS OF CASE 2. THE NUMBER OF THE RESPONDENT IS INDICATED
FOLLOWED BY THE RANKING OF THE TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL AND EXTERNAL ELEMENTS RELATIVELY TO
EACH OTHER. THE TOP-3 TOE-ELEMENTS ARE THEN SHOWED FOLLOWED BY THE COMPLEXITY SCORE. A
STRIKE-THROUGH MEANS THAT AN ELEMENT HAD BECOME LESS VALID IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE SURVEY
AND THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW.
#
T
O
E
1
2
3
1
2
3
2
1
3
1
2
3
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
Number of external
stakeholders
Diversity in stakeholders
interests
Diversity in stakeholders
interests
Experience of
stakeholders with LCPs
Number of goals
Top-3 element
C-score
Social impact
44%
Social impact
48%
Uncertainty in methods
Technical risks
43%
Diversity in stakeholders
interests
33%
4
2
2
1
Nature of the location
Number of external
stakeholders
5
2
1
3
Capacity and skills
availability
Resource availability
Contract type
48%
6
1
2
3
Diversity in technical
disciplines
Quality requirements
Technical risks
60%
The project manager and juridical advisor experienced project complexity within the
external elements, but since all interests had been translated into a contract which was
awarded and construction had not been commenced, this complexity was not at hand
anymore during the research. They also indicated that these external elements became the
responsibility of the contractor from the moment of tendering the contract. The
environmental manager however still experienced project complexity within the external
elements. He managed complexity by organising different types of consultation in specific
orders.
The project manager of the constructor did not experience the external elements as
complex and criticised the modern trend that contractors were made responsible for
environmental management. He also emphasized that construction had to be the central
focus of the project: not environmental management.
Almost all respondents, except the juridical advisor, referred in some form to the contract
when asked about project complexity. The criteria formulated in the D&C contract left room
for interpretation and these differences in interpretations led to discussions between the
PDO and the contractor: the PDO did not agree on the designs that were made by the
contractor. This led to irritation on both sides of the table, although the contract manager
indicated these discussions as a challenge in the project rather than a problem.
The project manager of the contractor questioned the type of contract: he indicated that
every design had to be accepted by the PDO, leaving very little room for innovation: this
was however a key concept of the D&C contract according to this project manager. He
openly questioned the expectations put on constructors by PDOs: PDOs gave themselves
more time to realise a design within the traditional contracts. Contractors received however
too little time in order to create a solid design within integrated contracts.
The PDO and the contractor were unable to resolve their dispute and independent external
parties had to be called in to resolve the conflict. The project manager also established a
work office for the Project Delivery Organisation on the location of the project in order to
enhance physical contact between the parties.
The coordinator of the inland waterways also questioned the type of contract, especially
when it came to public participation: there was too little room for public participation
because there was never a moment to talk about the details of a design since this design
was part of the rewarded contract. She tried to deal with this complexity by enforcing
participation through the council of state.
The juridical advisor also indicated complexity in the lack of public participation within this
project. She explained that this project was the first one to be constructed under the New
Water Act: all procedures were therefore new to all parties. The PDO, local governments
and the contractor were unaware of this procedure and therefore there was a lack of
opportunities to participate in the project. During the interview she emphasized the
importance of public involvement in the decision-making process and that she realized that
37 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
the project became more complex by doing so: it was however her belief that this enhanced
democratic value.
She handled this complexity by explaining the juridical implications of the New Water Act to
all involved local stakeholders thereby enforcing public participation from the contractor.
This however did not result in a better process and she judged the execution of the public
law within the project as poor.
The coordinator of the regional waterways indicated project complexity as the lack of
experience from the Project Delivery Organisation and constructors in designing locks. This
lack of experience resulted in too few financial resources and designs of poor quality. She
tried to deal with this complexity by providing information on shipping locks to all parties
but experienced difficulties in the understanding of that information by these parties.
5.2.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities
Table 5.7 shows all scores of all respondents on the top-3 elements of the project manager.
TABLE 5.7 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 2 ON THE TOP-3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER.
THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND WITH THE NUMBERS GIVEN IN TABLE 5.5. THE PROJECT MANAGER IS PROJECTED
IN THE ORANGE CIRCLE, THE CONTRACTOR IN THE RED CIRCLE. A 0 MEANS ‘NOT CONTRIBUTING TO
COMPLEXITY’ A 4 MEANS ‘HIGHLY CONTRIBUTING TO COMPLEXITY’.
Social impact
Diversity in stakeholders interests
Number of external
stakeholders
Table 5.8 shows the summary of the reactions of respondents on the questions about
differences in perceived complexities.
TABLE 5.8 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 2 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERET PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES, THE DIFFERENCE IN SCORES WITH THE PROJECT MANAGER AND ON THEIR OPINION ABOUT
DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
# Aware?
Remarks on differences with the PM
Opinion on different perceived complexities
1 Yes
Differences benefit the project performance
and should be as different as possible
2 Yes
It is important to explain your perception to
others
3 No
Elements used to be complex, not any more
It is important to have the same image of the
project within the PDO
4 No
Did not agree on the element social impact
It is important to have the same image of the
project within the PDO
5 Yes
Elements were specific elements for the
It is important to account for different
project manager
perceptions within a team in order to
complement each other
6 Yes
Different judgements on external elements
It is important to know the perceptions of
since there was a difference in available
each other in order to understand each
information between parties
other
Unanimity score: the unanimity score of this project was 50%, meaning that the respondents
achieved unanimity within the survey of 50% based on all scores of all 57 elements.
The project manager indicated to experience differences in perceived complexities between
the PDO and the civil principal. He indicated that civil principals determined complexity
based on the costs of the project and the geographical position of the project: the further
away from The Hague, the less complex the project becomes in the eyes of the civil
principals. The Dutch administrative attention seems to be much more focussed on the
large urban areas, such as the Randstad. The type of project had also implications for
perceived complexities: highways received more attention than locks. These differences in
perceived complexities resulted in a lack of attention for the project, forcing the project
manager to continuously explain the complexity to the civil principals.
Within his team he tried to use perceived complexities in order to get a rich understanding
of the project.
The juridical advisor indicated that different perceived complexities led to the depreciation
of her knowledge area within PDOs. She continuously needed to explain the consequences
of public law for the project to ensure a good execution of this law. She enforced listening if
38 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
necessary with the help of strong arguments or by using her superiors that could enforce
listening.
The contract manager thought that it was important to exchange perceived complexities in
order to communicate the same message from the PDO to the contractor. He mentioned
the use of open questions in order to get to know perceived complexities.
The environmental manager did not experienced different perceived complexities within the
PDO but did see different perceived complexities when he dealt with external stakeholders.
It was important to know some of them but some stakeholders of the project only needed
to be informed: complexity did not need to be explained in detail.
The coordinator of the internal waterways indicated that different perceived complexities
were important in order to understand the total project. She however experienced
difficulties in explaining her own perceived complexity and told that her vision was not
always translated into the project.
The project manager of the contractor saw different perceived complexities as a possible
threat within the project and indicated that it was the task of the PDO to make sure that
they were all aligned at the start of the project.
5.2.3. Overall case conclusion
The perceived complexities focussed themselves on the external stakeholders and the
implications of the contract. These perceived complexities seemed to drive interventions
since almost the entire PDO did not felt the urge of managing the environment from the
moment the constructor became formally responsible for this environment. To the opinion
of the constructor the external elements were however of less importance than construction
and these elements were therefore not managed at the same level as they were when the
PDO was still responsible. This had no implications (yet) for project performance since the
construction of the lock had not been commenced.
The respondents did not agree on the implications of different perceived complexities. The
project manager and coordinator of internal waterways indicated that different perceived
complexities lead to a better understanding of the project and therefore to better project
performance. Others indicated that perceived complexities needed to be shared in order to
prevent possible problems or to enrich the quality of the project. Nobody made comments
on reducing the differences in perceived complexities.
Looking back, project performance could have been improved if all perceived complexities
were taken into account at the right time within the project. If the contractor and PDO had
exchanged perceptions during the tendering phase, differences on interpretations might
have come to light. If the perception on the execution of the public law of the juridical
advisor had been taken into account, a juridical process at the council of state might have
been prevented. The same applied for the perceived complexity of the coordinator of the
internal waterways on the design of the lock.
A remark can be made on the type of contract (D&C) within these situations: it seemed as
if this contract reduced the possibility to exchange different perceived complexities within
this case.
It is concluded that the lack of sharing perceived complexities, the lack of listening to them,
sharing them too late and/or a combination of these factors increased project complexity
and increased the chance on decreased project performance in the future.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.3.
Case report 3: new museum in rural area
The third case covers the construction of a new museum in a nature reserve. The museum
would bundle multiple existing museums into one museum, which would not only consist of
a museum but also of facilities around the museum that supported the function of the
museum and an information kiosk about the surrounding natural reserve.
The museum was tendered with a DBFMO contract with an initial CAPEX of €160 million. A
contractor was chosen based on competitive dialogues and became thereby responsible for
the construction and 25-year during exploitation of the museum. The construction had been
commenced during the research and the museum would be completed within a year. The
biggest challenge for the project was a juridical procedure, put by a NGO protecting nature,
because the nature in the area would be damaged too much due to the project. Just before
the research started the council of state approved the zoning plan thereby giving green
light for the project. The procedure however resulted in the delay of the construction of one
of the facilities next to the museum.
The project performance was judged as excellent, because the project would be completed
on time, within budget and with a good relation between the Project Delivery Organisation
and the contractor. The delay in the facility next to the museum is judged as a minor issue
compared to the total project performance.
The number of involved actors is large. A ministerial department functioned as civil
principal, which also partly delivered the Project Delivery Organisation. Another
governmental agency, responsible for governmental real estate, formed the other part of
the Project Delivery Organisation: they were contracted by the ministerial department. The
museum was located in the jurisdiction of two municipalities which both had interests in the
project. The natural reserve was the property of the province and this actor was therefore
also of importance to the project.
The process manager (who was the contacting person for this case) suggested six
respondents for this case; an overview of the different respondents is given in figure 5.3
and in table 5.9.
FIGURE 5.3 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 3 ON ROLE-GROUPS
TABLE 5.9 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 3
#
Role
1
Process manager
Stakeholder group
Project Delivery Organisation
2
Project leader municipality
Project Delivery Organisation (advisor)
3
Architect
Project Delivery Organisation
4
Project director
Contractor
5
Environmental manager
Contractor
6
Project manager
Project Delivery Organisation
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.3.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity
The project was a utility construction projects that was executed with a DBFMO contract
which resulted in different parties entering a long-term relationship with each other. The
opinions of all involved actors can be found in table 5.10.
TABLE 5.10 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY-RESULTS FOR CASE 3. THE NUMBER OF THE RESPONDENT IS INDICATED
FOLLOWED BY THE RANKING OF THE TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL AND EXTERNAL ELEMENTS RELATIVELY TO
EACH OTHER. THE TOP-3 TOE-ELEMENTS ARE THEN SHOWED FOLLOWED BY THE COMPLEXITY SCORE. A
STRIKE-THROUGH MEANS THAT AN ELEMENT HAD BECOME LESS VALID IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE SURVEY
AND THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
C-Score
# T O E Top-3 element
1
2
3
1
Nature of the location
Planning/juridical
procedures
-
-
25%
2
2
3
1
3
2
1
3
Planning/juridical
procedures
Contract type
-
18%
Time pressure
Trust between the
projectteam and the
contractor
Organizational risks
45%
4
3
1
2
Contract type
Time pressure
54%
5
2
1
3
Size of PDO
Capacity and skills
availability
Time pressure
31%
6
2
1
2
Capacity and skills
availability
Compatibility of different
project management
methods and tools
Time pressure
61%
The first mentioned topic on project complexity is the DBFMO contract. Both the project
director and the environmental manager of the constructor indicated the time pressure,
which consisted of the enforced discipline by the bank, as a complexity created by the
DBFMO contract. The project manager also mentioned the responsibilities of the contractor
to check the design with the output specifications combined with the new systems
engineering skills the contractor had to learn as complex elements. The consortium dealt
with the complexity by combining the DB and MO part into one organization which removed
an interface between parties. Systems engineering was learned by the organisation in order
to execute the contract according to the formulated output specifications and time was
bought by executing more phases parallel to each other instead of sequential.
The architect also indicated project complexity caused by the PPS contract; this is because
the design of the project was given out of hand which required trust between the PDO and
the contractor.
The project manager saw the DBFMO contract as a way to deal with complexity: by using
the knowledge of the market he did not need to acquire internal knowledge in order to
realize the project.
The process manager and the project leader of the municipality saw the project complexity
mainly in the juridical procedures that were started against the zoning plan. Both indicated
that the consequences could have been massive if the project would not have won that
dispute. Although the trial was completed during the research, the project leader still
indicated the element as complex.
The process manager perceived the ‘new’ complexity within the time pressure on the
project and the lack of cooperation from the province since they did not felt the urgency
that the Project Delivery Organisation felt. This complexity was dealt with by talking en
negotiating and eventually, if all would fail, by pressure from higher superiors. He indicated
that elements are generally perceived as complex when actors cannot control the element.
The project director of the constructor argued however the opposite: if something cannot
be controlled it should not be perceived as complex.
The project leader of the municipality and the environmental manager both indicated
complexity in the communication between the PDO (or constructor) and the civil principal.
Due to a specific culture within the civil principal, communication was slow, inefficient and
difficult.
The environmental manager did not perceived the project as complex: all challenges that
were faced during the project were resolvable and therefore the project could not be called
complex. The great number of employees was a challenge, which he managed by designing
an extensive consultation structure that indicated who had to talk to who about what.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The project manager indicated that project complexity had not been reduced over time
the mentioned elements had become less valid because they referred to phases of
project which were already completed during the interviews. The time pressure that he
during the survey was still present but became the responsibility of
contractor/consortium.
but
the
felt
the
All respondents indicated that the good level of collaboration between all actors was one of
the key success factors in managing project complexity. The project manager deliberately
steered on elements such as a good atmosphere and the right tone between parties during
the dialogue phase. The process manager indicated that the good connection between
individual people was already created during that dialogue phase. The architect described
the involved practitioners as people that wanted to perform and were willing to take the
extra step. Several respondents indicated that all people had fun in what they did and that
this fun contributed to the positive collaboration.
5.3.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities
Different perceived complexities were acknowledged from the very beginning of the project
and resulted in a great awareness among the respondents on these differences. The
differences between the respondents and the process manager are shown in table 5.11.
TABLE 5.11 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 3 ON THE TOP-3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROCESS MANAGER.
THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND WITH THE NUMBERS GIVEN IN TABLE 5.9. THE PROCESS MANAGER IS PROJECTED
IN THE ORANGE CIRCLE, THE CONTRACTORS IN THE RED CIRCLES. A 0 MEANS ‘NOT CONTRIBUTING TO
COMPLEXITY’ A 4 MEANS ‘HIGHLY CONTRIBUTING TO COMPLEXITY’.
Nature of the location
Planning/juridical procedures
Table 5.12 shows the summary of the reactions of respondents on the questions about
differences in perceived complexities.
TABLE 5.12 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 3 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES, THE DIFFERENCE IN SCORES WITH THE PROJECT MANAGER AND ON THEIR OPINION ABOUT
DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
Remarks on differences with the pm
Opinion on different perceived complexities
# Aware?
1 Yes
Differences are essential in finding the
problems within the project
2 Yes
There was no difference in judgement: only
Sharing perceived complexities is essential in
in definition.
project performance.
3 Yes
Elements were not perceived as contributing
One hopes that everybody sees the same;
to complexity since they were not the
agreement is important
responsibility of the respondent
4 Yes
Elements were out of the influence range of
Interests need to be exchanged in order to
the respondent
skip the conflict phase
5 Yes
Elements are not perceived as contributing to
Different perceived complexities have no
complexity
consequences for the project, only different
interests
6 Yes
Elements should have been scored higher in
Differences lead to additional understanding
retro perspective
of risks
Unanimity score: the unanimity score of this project was 51%, meaning that the respondents
achieved unanimity within the survey of 51% based on all scores of all 57 elements.
The process manager saw different perceived complexities as a way to deal with the
problems within projects and argued that trust between parties is essential in order to
share perceived complexities with each other. Trust was build with a vulnerable attitude
towards the contractors. The right attitude in the collaboration proved to be important, not
the focus on time, scope and money: problems generally show themselves within these
elements but are not caused there. He indicated that perceived complexities between the
PDO and the consortium/constructor were explicitly shared. Between the province and the
consortium the perceived complexities were however implicitly shared, meaning that they
were never clearly formulated: this led to the earlier mentioned problems between the
province and the consortium.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The process manager and the project director both indicated that the negotiations could
end in an agreement to disagree. The dispute was then placed outside the meetings in
order not to hinder the overall progress: a solution had to be found elsewhere then. The
project director mentioned the explanation and understanding of different interests as a
crucial precondition in order to agree to disagree: this understanding led to collaboration
because the conflict-phase could be skipped.
The project leader of the municipality mentioned the exchange of different perceived
complexities as a crucial factor in project success because it enabled actors to explain the
perceived complexity of others within their own organisations. By providing space for other
perceived complexities in the execution of the project the good collaboration was ensured:
pleasant conversations also contributed to this good collaboration.
The architect explained that he managed complexity by reaching a consensus on the core of
the assignment with important project actors. An integral design was achieved by ensuring
that everyone had the same vision.
He also argued that it is important to reach consensus on the core of the design
assignment: when everybody has the same vision on an integral design solution they can
work from that vision: the success of this process however depends on the involved people.
The environmental manager indicated that different perceived complexities did not influence
project performance and should not be allowed to do so: an intervention should not be
made dependable on the ‘complexity score’ of the project. Generally there are simply
challenges that need to be dealt with, regardless of the perceived complexity.
The project manager mentioned different perceived complexities as crucial in assessing a
complete picture of the risks of the project. He created an ambience in which they were
shared with each other during the dialogue phase and this provided a sustainable basis for
their collaboration throughout the project.
5.3.3. Overall case conclusion
This case seemed to have all the ingredients for poor project performance: an innovative
contract design for this type of project, an inexperienced contractor with this contract type,
the first construction project in a protected natural reserve and an inexperienced civil
principal on the subject. The complexity was even more enhanced when the zoning plan
was almost rejected by the council of state.
The respondents were however very positive on project performance. Every respondent
mentioned complexities which were role-specific and all respondents indicated one or more
interventions that were used to deal with these complexities. Even the threat of a ‘showstopper’ did not tempted respondents to alter their perceived complexities on the situation,
thereby showing faith in each other: people were confident that the right person would deal
with the complexity in the right way. All respondents therefore kept very close to their own
role in the project when it came to their perceived complexities.
The several interventions dealing with complexity mentioned by the respondents were all
logical consequences of the perceived complexities of those respondents. Together they
formed an extensive set of interventions that was used to deal with complexity.
It is therefore concluded that project performance was positively influenced due to different
perceived complexities. This was also indicated by almost all respondents, with a strong
exception for the environmental manager: he argued that different perceived complexities
had zero influence in the project. All other respondents however emphasized the fact that
the explicit exchange of them was already a topic during the dialogue and remained an
important part of the contact between the parties. Not only did the respondents indicate
that different perceived complexities made a richer picture of the project (and risks), they
also indicated that problems in the communication were avoided by an early exchange of
these perceived complexities and the interests that the practitioners represented in the
project.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.4.
Case report 4: new metro station in urban area
This case consisted of the construction of a new metro station in the middle of a large city
centre. The new station would become part of a new metro line constructed through the
city. With a length of several kilometres through soft soil and multiple deep stations
constructed in urban area, the project could be called unique in its kind.
The entire project had a long and restless history with the start dating back decades before
the research. The total project had gone hugely over budget and time and a full description
of the projects’ moving history would be too extensive for this research. This description will
therefore focus on the metro station itself and the recent history.
The construction of this metro station always accounted for much resistance within the
neighbourhood of the project. Occupants and retailers objected to the construction since it
would disturb the neighbourhood too much. Several years before the research, during the
construction of the underground station, several houses on the surface prolapsed 25
centimetres within an hour. Construction was stopped and a committee conducted research
on the matter if it was responsible and safe enough to even move on and finish the project.
The committee decided that the project had to be finished but the environment had to be
taken much better into account. Budget was made available in order to do so and the
practitioners within the project bureau (being the Project Delivery Organisation) were
replaced.
Since then project performance was improved. The relation with the neighbourhood became
much better and progress was re-established. The media attention for the project cooled
down and at the time of the research it looked as if the new deadline would be reached
within the renewed estimated costs.
The actors involved in this research are the Project Delivery Organisation (organised in a
separate project bureau); the NGO that defended the interests of the neighbourhood and
the contractor responsible for constructing the station (being part of a larger contract that
includes three stations in total). The project was ordered by the municipality, which also
contributed the largest share of the budget.
It must also be said that the spokesman of the NGO, also respondent in the research, was
paid for by the project bureau: this decision was part of the interventions done by the
committee. The spokesman became responsible to defend the interests of the
neighbourhood; this used to be the responsibility of the project bureau.
The project manager suggested five respondents for this case; an overview of the different
respondents is given in figure 5.4 and in table 5.13.
FIGURE 5.4 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 4 ON ROLE-GROUPS
TABLE 5.13 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 4
# Role
Stakeholder group
1
Project manager
Project Delivery Organisation
2
Project director
Contractor
3
Spokesman NGO
Local stakeholder
4
Environmental manager
Project Delivery Organisation
5
Chairman NGO
Local stakeholder
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.4.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity
The project experienced large problems in the past and was therefore temporary brought to
a full stop. Together with a new PDO a new way of communication with the environment
was introduced and performance was improved. This was reflected within this research
because the perceived complexities changed severely between the moment of the survey
and the in-depth interviews: almost all respondents indicated that their originally selected
TOE-elements became less valid. The results are shown in table 5.14.
TABLE 5.14 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY-RESULTS FOR CASE 4. THE NUMBER OF THE RESPONDENT IS INDICATED
FOLLOWED BY THE RANKING OF THE TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL AND EXTERNAL ELEMENTS RELATIVELY TO
EACH OTHER. THE TOP-3 TOE-ELEMENTS ARE THEN SHOWED FOLLOWED BY THE COMPLEXITY SCORE. A
STRIKE-THROUGH MEANS THAT AN ELEMENT HAD BECOME LESS VALID IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE SURVEY
AND THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW.
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
C-Score
# T O E
1
2
3
1
Nature of the location
Social impact
Media influence
68%
2
1
3
2
Goal alignment
Uncertainties in the
scope
Social impact
Technical risks
60%
HSSE awareness
88%
-
-
11%
Quality of the contract
Trust between the
projectteam and the
contractor
71%
4
3
1
1
1
4
2
3
1
5
2
1
3
Experience of
stakeholders with LCPs
Capacity and skills
availability
The respondents that were experienced both the old and the new PDO indicated two major
interventions that re-established the progress of the project done by the PDO: (1) the
improvement of the relationship between PDO and contractor and (2) the centralisation of
the interests of the environment within the project. Problems were managed and reduced
due to the open and transparent approach of the new PDO. They made the first move in
improving the relationship and this move was followed by the NGO and the contractor.
The project manager mentioned primarily external elements as mayor contributors to
project complexity because they could not be fully managed. The interests of the civil
principal became much more focussed on the environment around the project due to the
prolapsed buildings. The project manager managed complexity by introducing a new way of
communicating, focussing on the communication of risks and uncertainties instead of
solutions and by managing perceived complexities. The overall project-management-board
of the metro line also decided to introduce a new communication channel: workmen
constructing the tunnel explained the project to the neighbours of the project. This led to
much more understanding between the parties.
He also indicated that the perceived complexities of people made reality and they therefore
needed to be the basis of project management. Solutions were not found in tools but in
people: the right project management team made a difference. It was therefore important
that practitioners would have fun in the project and in their job.
The project director of the constructor indicated complexity within the difficult relation with
the PDO. The new project manager made the scope however more clear and aligned the
goals which led to a reduction of complexity because there was a feeling of control. The
technical risks would always stay a complex element but could be managed by hiring well
educated people to deal with these risks. He emphasized the necessity for a contractor to
make profit: if there was no profit, the company would get restless and send in extra
people thereby increasing complexity.
Complexity was furthermore managed by mirroring the organisation of the PDO to the
organisation of the contractor: counterparts thereby became clear and this led to more
organisational clarity.
Both the spokesmen and the contractor indicated the importance of the mature
commissioning of the project to a contractor. The PDO in this case did indeed not outsource
all responsibilities but kept involved, especially on the topic of management of the
environment.
4
The respondent indicated in the interview that the external TOE-elements were the main contributors
to project complexity. The interview therefore focussed on the top-3 external elements
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
This environment was managed with the help of several interventions. The chairman
explained that construction decency had increased significantly and the spokesman
mentioned the centralisation of the environment in the project management as a crucial
intervention. It is however noteworthy that both respondents of the NGO indicated that
these interventions actually increased project complexity because the organisational and
technical elements of the project became more complex.
The spokesman furthermore criticised the initial decision to make the project bureau
responsible for both project result and environmental management: it was impossible for
the project bureau to serve both interests with full attention. The decision to split this
responsibility and make the NGO responsible for defending the interests of the environment
was therefore a good intervention in managing complexity.
The environmental manager of the project did not perceived the project as complex from
her own role. This is because the management of the environment became ‘second nature’
within the PDO, which indicated that this task was not perceived as difficult or challenging.
5.4.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities
The project manager indicated an important role for perceived complexities within project
management. The scores of all respondents on the top-3 TOE-elements of the project
management are showed in figure 5.15.
TABLE 5.15 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 4 ON THE TOP-3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER.
THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND WITH THE NUMBERS GIVEN IN TABLE 5.13. THE PROJECT MANAGER IS PROJECTED
IN THE ORANGE CIRCLE, THE CONTRACTOR IN THE RED CIRCLE. A 0 MEANS ‘NOT CONTRIBUTING TO
COMPLEXITY’ A 4 MEANS ‘HIGHLY CONTRIBUTING TO COMPLEXITY’.
Nature of the location
Social impact
Media influence
Table 5.16 shows the summary of the reactions of respondents on the questions about
differences in perceived complexities.
TABLE 5.16 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 4 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES, THE DIFFERENCE IN SCORES WITH THE PROJECT MANAGER AND ON THEIR OPINION ABOUT
DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
Remarks on differences with the PM
Opinion on different perceived complexities
# Aware?
1 Yes
The different perceptions contribute to
understanding and managing different is a
key concept in modern project management
2 Yes
Elements were recognized but judged
It is important to create understanding by
differently due to differing primary
sharing perceptions, in order to avoid
responsibilities.
collisions.
3 Yes
- No differences in scoring There must be accordance on the crucial
project elements
4 Yes
Elements were not perceived as complex
It is important to understand perceptions but
because there was enough goodwill that
it is not necessary to reach consensus
functioned as buffer
It is important to exchange perceptions in
5 Yes
- No confrontation with differences due to a
lack of time in the interview order to create trust.
Unanimity score: the unanimity score of this project was 32%, meaning that the respondents
achieved unanimity within the survey of 32% based on all scores of all 57 elements.
The project manager indicated that the exchange of perceived complexities was vital in
project management, since it were these that required action, not the facts of the project.
Different perceived complexities within the PDO were important for project success and the
project manager indicated that he would replace people if they tended to be alike. The
result of managing perceived complexities was not agreement but understanding and
awareness. This was done by forcing actors to ask each other open questions.
The project director of the contractor indicated that the exchange of perceived complexities
resulted into understanding. Different perceived complexities originated in different primary
46 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
responsibilities and therefore variety was seen as natural: they could however lead to
conflicts if there wouldn’t be understanding for each others’ perceived complexities.
The spokesmen of the NGO noted that it was important that agreement was reached on the
vital project elements.
The environmental manager was aware of different perceived complexities but did not
experience any influence of those differences on her work.
The chairman of the NGO translated the different perceived complexities into differences in
experience. He indicated that conversations with the project manager about these
differences led to understanding the experience of the other, which led to trust between the
parties. These conversations focused themselves on the exchange of experiences without
mitigating or altering arguments of one another.
5.4.3. Overall case conclusion
External complexity led initially to huge problems within this project and even threatened
the very completion of the project. A break-through was constructed in the progress of the
project with the instalment of a new Project Delivery Organisation: by focussing project
management on the environment and the relation with the contractor, the new project
manager re-established progress.
The validity of top-3 elements thereby decreased for all respondents that were no member
of the PDO. The complexity even totally disappeared for the environmental manager. All
respondents perceived the complexity from their own role within the project and the
unanimity score was the lowest of all five cases (but strongly influenced by the low scores
of the environmental manager). All respondents indicated several interventions to deal with
their perceived complexities, which illustrated the feeling of progress in the project.
So the PDO managed to cope much better with complexity due to a new project
management style. This style was, according to the project manager, based on the
management of perceived complexities. All respondents were indeed aware of differences
and three respondents indicated that different perceived complexities led to a positive
project performance. Noteworthy are the remarks on the effects of the interventions: they
sometimes increased complexity within the project on other project components (technical
and organisational) according to respondents.
It is therefore concluded that different perceived complexities had a positive influence on
project performance within this case. A new way of project management, based on
perceived complexities, was applied and turned out to be vital for the progress of the
project. The crucial factor in this new management was the PDO and more specifically the
project manager.
5.5.
Case report 5: expansion of a train station
The last case consisted of the renovation and expansion of a train station. The train station
had to be expanded in order to cope with a growing amount of trains landing on the station.
A new platform had to be constructed together with the necessary rail infrastructure. A new
pedestrian tunnel was also constructed underneath the train station at the same time. This
tunnel was originally planned two years after the construction of the platform but it was
decided that both would be brought to the market in one D&C contract.
The project was awarded and construction had been almost completed during the research.
The platform was realised on time, under high pressure of another project, but the tunnel
was not finished on time and the carcass still needed to be delivered during the research.
There were also some difficulties in the relation with the constructor: friction between the
PDO and contractor resulted in a poor collaboration and it was decided to prematurely
terminate the contract with the contractor. This was caused due to a lack of trust between
the parties which was caused by a specific event.
This resulted in the re-tendering of a part of the contract for the completion of the
pedestrian tunnel (the carcass was going to be finished by the original contractor).
The re-tendering of the contract also provided the opportunity to reconsider the scope of
the project because the contract could be reformulated. This decision to reconsider was
based on new information in which it became clear that more trains were desired and the
47 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
current emplacement around the station did not meet standards necessary to provide these
extra trains. The civil principal therefore ordered new research on the scope and possible
solutions.
A new scope was formulated by the PDO and translated into three possible scenarios for
future construction. These scenarios were submitted to the civil principal. A new discussion
followed between PDO and civil principal: the civil principal was prepared to provide only
half the financing asked for by the PDO.
The project performance of this project was judged as medium: dynamic complexity clearly
indulged within this project, leading to several major events that made a strong impact on
the project. The project was therefore over time and over budget and in two phases at the
same time. It was however still able to make some form of progress whatsoever, never
ending up in a dead-lock.
The number of actors in this case was again large. A ministry department functioned as civil
principal together with the organisation responsible for the rail infrastructure. This same
organisation also delivered the PDO, which made the organisation both civil principal and
Project Delivery Organisation. Involved provinces and rail carriers were important
stakeholders in determining the new scope and during the construction phase (de-activation
of scheduled trains was an important aspect of the project).
Multiple external stakeholders were united in a sounding board providing the Project
Delivery Organisation with advice and participating in decisions. One of those external
stakeholders was an association which defended the interests of the greenery around the
station. The chairman of this association, who was also a member of the sounding board,
participated in the research.
The project manager suggested seven respondents for this case; an overview of the
different respondents is given in figure 5.5 and in table 5.17.
FIGURE 5.5 DISTRUBTION OF THE RESPONDENTS FROM CASE 5 ON ROLE-GROUPS
TABLE 5.17 OVERVIEW OF THE RESPONDENTS CASE 5
# Role
1 Project manager
Stakeholder group
Project Delivery Organisation
2
Program manager at ministerial department
Civil principal
3
Project manager at engineering firm
Project Delivery Organisation
4
Infrastructure advisor at rail carrier
Civil principal (advisor)
5
Program manager at rail-infra manager
Civil principal
6
Plan developer
Project Delivery Organisation
7
Member of the sound-board; chairman of greenery
association
Local stakeholder
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
5.5.1. Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with that complexity
Respondents showed a wide variety in perceived complexities and interviews tended to
focus on either the ‘old’ scope or on the ‘new’ scope (as referred to in the description of the
case). An overview is given in table 5.18.
TABLE 5.18 OVERVIEW OF SURVEY-RESULTS FOR CASE 5. THE NUMBER OF THE RESPONDENT IS INDICATED
FOLLOWED BY THE RANKING OF THE TECHNICAL, ORGANIZATIONAL AND EXTERNAL ELEMENTS RELATIVELY TO
EACH OTHER. THE TOP-3 TOE-ELEMENTS ARE THEN SHOWED FOLLOWED BY THE COMPLEXITY SCORE. A
STRIKE-THROUGH MEANS THAT AN ELEMENT HAD BECOME LESS VALID IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE SURVEY
AND THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW.
Top-3 element
Top-3 element
C-score
# T O E Top-3 element
1
3
1
2
Number of clients
2
1
3
2
Clarity of goals
3
2
1
2
Capacity and skills
availability
4
2
1
2
Contract type
5
2
3
1
Diversity in
stakeholders interests
6
3
2
25 Number of external
stakeholders
7
3
16 1
Resource availability
Number of financial
resources
Uncertainties in the scope
Organizational risks
Dependency between
subprojects
Interfaces between different Trust between the
disciplines
projectteam and the
contractor
Experience with parties
Trust between the
involved
projectteam and the
contractor
Influence of stakeholders
interfaces with other projects
within the internal
organization
Experience of stakeholders
Influence of stakeholders
with LCPs
within the internal
organization
Discontinuity in staffing
Cultural differences
64%
43%
60%
74%
52%
50%
63%
The project manager indicated three TOE-elements that focused on the civil principal. The
number of clients and the number of financiers made the project complex for him. He
reduced complexity by making the project components more sequential thereby being
aware of the consequences for the deadline. He furthermore emphasized the fact that it
was important to tell the ‘project story’, which can explain the complexity of the project in
clear terms to other actors.
Almost all respondents, except for the member of the sounding board and the infrastructure
advisor of the rail-carrier, indicated complexity as the process of re-stating the scope (i.e.
the ‘new’ project). The program manager dedicated this complexity to time pressure
created by politicians that demanded a new scope. This caused a shift in ownership from
the rail-infra manager to the ministry and affected the technical components of the project.
He dealt with complexity by communicating with all parties.
The program manager of the rail-infra manager indicated the project complexity as the
process of aligning every stakeholder into a new project scope. She managed complexity by
disconnecting process and content: in meetings she became the process leader and she
appointed a colleague as the defender of her organisational interests.
All three respondents of the rail-infra manager mentioned their own organisation as a
contributor to complexity. Due to re-organisations, renewed policies or powerful individuals,
the project performance was impacted. The project manager dealt with this complexity by
creating his own internal and informal network which he used to get things done.
Both the project director of the engineering firm and the advisor of the rail carrier looked in
retro-perspective to the friction with the constructor when indicating project complexity.
The project director argued that a lack of expertise combined with a lack of trust resulted in
an atmosphere in which collaboration was not possible anymore. The used intervention was
the termination of the contract. She also indicated that the contract type (D&C) led to
difficult interfaces between two companies: it contributed therefore to complexity and
therefore to the problems.
The advisor of the rail-carrier also mentioned the discontinuity in the PDO as a problem and
did indicate very little interventions to deal with the project complexity.
5
The respondent indicated in the interview that the external elements were the main contributors to
project complexity. The interview therefore focussed on the top-3 external elements
6
The respondent indicated in the interview that the organisational elements were the main
contributors to project complexity. The interview therefore focussed on the top-3 organisational
elements
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The plan developer strongly emphasized that project complexity was created due to the
difficult and visionless decision making within the civil principal. The civil principal initially
ordered new research on the scope of the project. When the PDO formulated the new scope
with necessary resources they only received half of the financial resources necessary to
realise this new scope: this would led to a project of poor quality according to the plan
developer. Decision-making also took too much time to realize the assignment in an orderly
way: this fact left little room to involve the environment for example in the designs of the
new scope. He did not indicate interventions to deal with this complexity.
The member of the sounding board indicated that the sounding board was only involved by
the PDO when the details of a decision had to be decided but not when the important
decisions were actually being made. This reduced project complexity in his view but it also
led to poor quality of the project. He did not indicate interventions to deal with this
complexity.
5.5.2. Implications and management of different perceived complexities
The project manager emphasized the number of clients and financial resources at the civil
principals as major contributors to project complexity. The scores of the other respondents
on his top-3 TOE-elements are shown in figure 5.19.
TABLE 5.19 SCORES OF ALL RESPONDENTS OF CASE 5 ON THE TOP-3 ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT MANAGER.
THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND WITH THE NUMBERS GIVEN IN TABLE 5.17. THE PROJECT MANAGER IS PROJECTED
IN THE ORANGE CIRCLE. A 0 MEANS ‘NOT CONTRIBUTING TO COMPLEXITY’ A 4 MEANS ‘HIGHLY CONTRIBUTING
TO COMPLEXITY’.
Number of clients
Number of financial resources
Organizational risks
Table 5.20 shows the summary of the reactions of respondents on the questions about
differences in perceived complexities.
TABLE 5.20 COMMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS OF CASE 5 ON THE AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES, THE DIFFERENCE IN SCORES WITH THE PROJECT MANAGER AND ON THEIR OPINION ABOUT
DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES.
Remarks on differences with the PM
Opinion on different perceived complexities
# Aware?
1 No
Differences need to be eliminated:
unambiguous perceptions lead to better
project performance
2 Yes
Elements were not perceived as complex since
Different perceptions lead to difficulties in
there was only one financer and one client
collaboration. Second opinions are
sometimes necessary.
Differences can be used in order to generate
3 Yes
- Respondent was not asked on differences
with the PM a complete picture of the project
4 Yes
Element was not perceived as contributing to
When the complexities are not explained to
complexity above average.
people, problems occur
5 Yes/No
The element would be scored different in
Differences need to be understood in order
retro-perspective
to find the jointly goals
6
Yes
7
Yes
Elements were not perceived as complex or
not contributing above average.
Elements were judged differently due to
different roles: political view vs. project
view.
Differences lead to challenges in managing
external stakeholders
Differences need to be understood in order
to create understanding
Unanimity score: the unanimity score of this project was 58%, meaning that the respondents
achieved unanimity within the survey of 58% based on all scores of all 57 elements.
The project manager indicated that different perceived complexities contributed negatively
to project results and therefore needed to be eliminated. He used a tool to explain the
complexity of the project to other people.
The program manager of the ministry experienced different perceived complexities between
the ministry and the rail-infra manager. He indicated that the ministry depended on the
50 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
perceived complexity of the rail-infra manager and therefore needed a second opinion in
some cases thereby indicating the importance of multiple perceived complexities on the
project. The ministry installed a special ‘translation desk’ that checked all communication
between the ministry and the rail-infra manager in order to prevent different perceived
complexities from becoming a problem. He also mentioned a separate activity to get to
know each other with two organisations as a valuable intervention.
The project director argued that underestimation of project complexity led to the ambition
of combining the tunnel and the platform into one contract: if other perceived complexities
were noted and taken into account this decision might not have been taken. She indicated
that different perceived complexities led to a richer picture of the project (i.e. more
information and understanding) but also needed calibration between parties once in a
while: this was not done in the project. She also explained that it was important to ask the
questions behind the questions.
Both the advisor of the rail-carrier and the program manager of the rail-infra manager
indicated that the exchange of perceived complexities was necessary in order to prevent
problems from occurring. The program manager emphasized that it was important to
formulate jointly goals and that the exchange of perceived complexities led to
understanding.
The importance of understanding is also mentioned by the member of the sounding board.
He also indicated that perceived complexities did not always need to be explained but could
be used to collect valid arguments which could be used at a time when they were
necessary. Perceived complexities thereby became a strategic tool.
The plan developer experienced different perceived complexities within the external
stakeholders. He managed these differences by focussing on the interests of people.
5.5.3. Overall case conclusion
Project complexity became apparent when the contract with the contractor was terminated
and parties asked themselves if the scope of the project actually solved all the problems.
Two different faces of project complexity became apparent: the first one created due to
difficulties between the PDO and the contractor, the second one created due to difficulties
between the PDO and the civil principal in the process of re-formulating the scope. Political
powers within the civil principal seemed to affect the project and influenced the assignment
of the PDO. A respondent of the PDO questioned if this new scope actually solved all the
problems or that history was repeated.
The number of respondents that did not indicate a specific intervention for their perceived
complexity is substantial which indicated project wide problems that were only manageable
for a few. Other interventions were almost all focussed in dealing with the civil principals
which emphasized the connection between a perceived complexity and interventions.
There were clues in this case that project performance was impacted by different
perceptions. There was not enough space to exchange different perceived complexities in
the communication between the PDO and the contractor according to a respondent. One
respondent indicated that different perceived complexities could have prevented the
problems created by combining multiple contracts.
The different perceived complexities between politics and project were also a clear
indication of how different perceived complexities impacted project performance: the PDO
had a great focus on the civil principals and experienced difficulties in the progress of the
project due to these civil principals.
5.6.
Conclusion
All case reports were verified with the project managers. The case reports were then used
in order to provide the answers on the questions formulated in the introduction of this
chapter.
5.6.1. How can perceived complexities be described?
A variant on the Brunswik Lens Model was designed in chapter two in order to describe the
perceived complexities and this model turned out to be a useful tool to describe and better
understand perceived complexities.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The hypothesis that the 57 elements of the TOE-framework could be seen as cues in the
lens model turned out to be a workable hypothesis. These cues provided a starting point in
the categorisation of the different comments that the respondents made while explaining
the element.
It is noteworthy that almost all elements were translated into ‘new’ cues (i.e. subjective
cues) thereby specifying what is meant by selecting the element. Some subjective cues
were a logical interpretation of the original cues but other subjective cues were more
difficult to relate to the original element. More than once the subjective cue turned out to
be an element which was also available in the original list of 57 elements but was
apparently not recognized by the respondent on first instance.
The perceptual judgement on each TOE-element was more difficult to filter out of the
interviews. Subjective cues often provided a clue on these judgements and more then often
the necessary link between the element of the respondent and the perceptual judgement on
that element: without subjective cues the judgements would be difficult to comprehend.
Sometimes, in some very few interviews, the respondents also indicated an objective cue
which could be seen as the ‘source’ of the selected element: the addition of the category
‘objective cues’ might provide a meaningful addition to the used lens model.
This shows the value of the lens model in combination with the TOE-framework: a clean
display of the top-3 elements does not tell the full story since the subjective cues and
perceptual judgements turned out to be crucial in understanding the perceived complexity
of a practitioner. This especially becomes clear when the mentioned interventions to deal
with a specific TOE-element are linked to this TOE-element: they often do not deal with the
TOE-element but with the subjective cue or even with the perceptual judgement connected
to the TOE-element.
It must however be emphasized that the combination of the TOE-framework and the lens
model in its current form can only be used as a practical tool in order to describe and
understand perceived complexities. The first use of this combination provided positive
results but it needs much more scientific research before solid scientific conclusions can be
drawn from the use of this model. This is a recommendation for future research.
Now that the lens model has been accepted as a valuable tool to describe perceived
complexities the next questions pop up: why did respondents choose these three TOEelements as their cues and why did they judge them the way they did? These questions will
be answered in chapter six.
5.6.2. How can perceived complexities of construction practitioners be categorised?
Perceived complexities highly depend on the context of a project thereby making it difficult
to give a general description of the perceived complexities of construction practitioners.
This description would only be accurate for one specific project.
It is however useful to indicate which characteristics of the context lead to a certain
perceived complexity. All respondents related their perceived complexity to certain
characteristics within the project’s context and on a case level it turned out that the
respondents often used the same characteristics of this context in order to explain their
perceived complexity.
Although these perceived complexities still differed greatly (making it difficult to conclude
that a certain perceived complexity follows from a certain context characteristic) it is useful
to know the context characteristics that are responsible in determining a perceived
complexity: they could be used in future research and in practice when one would like to
understand different perceived complexities within a project.
The contextual characteristics are the elements which were the elements mentioned by
multiple or almost all respondents within a case. They are selected based on the case
reports provided above and reflect the common thread within a case.
The overlapping context characteristics that are used in order to explain the perceived
complexities within each case are summarised in table 5.21.
TABLE 5.21 SUMMARISED CONTEXT CHARACTERISTICS THAT WERE OVERALL MENTIONED WITHIN EACH CASE
WHEN EXPLAINING THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY
52 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Case
Case 1
Case 2
Case 3
Case 4
Case 5
Summarized context characteristics
A civil principal which has a fragmented organizational set-up
An unstable Project Delivery Organisation which does not function optimally
A great number of external stakeholders with (conflicting) interests
A D&C contract which leaves room for interpretation
A DBFMO contract
A project location in the middle of a protected natural reserve
A great number of external stakeholders with (conflicting) interests
Construction within an urban environment
Multiple civil principals that intervene in the project
A D&C contract which was inflexible and created interfaces between parties
A clear distinction can be made between the five mentioned context characteristics: the
characteristics of cases one, two and five refer to a component within the project which
does not function as it supposed to do, or in other words: problems. The characteristics of
cases three and four just refer to a certain component without judging this component as
negative or positive: it was just ‘simply’ there and therefore needed to be managed.
This led to the conclusions that the perceived complexity can be based on characteristics
that refer to problems within a project or just to characteristics of the project. The
difference between these two types of perceived complexities which will be referred to as
challenge-focussed or problems-focussed perceptions is shown in table 5.22.
TABLE 5.22 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHALLENGE-FOCUSSED AND PROBLEM-FOCUSSED PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES
Challenge-focussed perceived complexity
Problem-focussed perceived complexity
Project complexity can contribute positively to the
Project complexity contributes negatively to the
quality project
project
Project complexity does not need to be reduced: it
just needs to be dealt with
Dealing with complexity is part of the daily routine in
a project
Project complexity needs to be minimized
Complexity needs to be managed once it threatens
the progress of the project
5.6.3. What is the link between perceived complexities and interventions dealing with project
complexity?
Another important phenomenon was found in the case reports: there was a strong
contradiction between respondents that indicated interventions to deal with the top-3 TOEelements and respondents who were unable to indicate interventions to deal with these top3 TOE-elements.
The cause of this difference can be explained with the help of the circle of influence: if a
respondent could mention interventions it meant that the respondent had the feeling it
could deal with project complexity. Respondents that were unable to mention interventions
mentioned TOE-elements which they could not manage due to lacking influence within the
project. This difference is characterised as the difference between perceived complexities
that lie either inside or outside the circle of influence of the respondent.
So the perceived complexities that were based on TOE-elements that lay outside the circle
of influence of the respondents led to a lack of interventions to deal with this complexity.
This shows a correlation between perceptions and interventions and provides enough
evidence for the proposition that perceived complexities indeed influence interventions to
deal with project complexity. The next chapter will answer the question how perceived
complexities lead to specific interventions.
Four different types of perceived complexities can be derived by combining the two
mentioned characteristics of perceived complexities. This is done in figure 5.6.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
FIGURE 5.6 FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
5.6.4. What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance?
The cases revealed strong indications that different perceptions impacted project
performance. There was not enough evidence to formulate a solid theory on the causal
relation between different perceived complexities and project performance but the project
reports give enough clues in order to formulate the proposition that different perceived
complexities indeed influence project performance. These clues will be formulated for each
individual case below.
 Case one led to the assumption that a lack of different perceived complexities led to a
lack of interventions and therefore impacted project performance. However, this is a
weak proposition and needs additional evidence.
 Case two showed strong indications that in retro-perspective an exchange of different
perceived complexities could have led to a better project performance and could
therefore have prevented problems that occurred later on in the project.
 Cases three and four both gave enough reasons to believe that different perceived
complexities made a positive contribution to project performance based on both the
interviews and the observations and reflections made by the researcher.
 Case five contained some respondents that indicated that project performance was
impacted negatively by different perceived complexities and an analysis of the
problems led to the idea that different perceived complexities indeed led to problems
between the most important project parties.
Besides these case results, many respondents indicated directly in the interviews that
different perceived complexities impact project performance. This will be elaborated in
chapter six, when the question what the implications of different perceived complexities on
project performance are will be answered.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
6. Results of the data analyses
Chapter five introduced the lens model as a framework which was used to describe
perceived complexities. The why-question behind the perceived complexities remained
however unanswered: why did the respondents choose their top-3 TOE-elements as cues
and why did they judge them the way they did?
This chapter will answer those questions. By performing data analysis on the interviews, the
descriptions of the perceived complexities and the case reports the following sub-researchquestions will be answered:
 How do the different perceived complexities originate? (sub-question B)
 How do perceived complexities affect interventions dealing with complexity? (subquestion E)
 What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance?
(sub-question F)
Explanation building was used in order to formulate seven hypotheses that were used to
answer the first two research questions.
Descriptive research was used to describe the different management interventions dealing
with project complexity.
The first section of this chapter will display the results of the explanation building (§6.1)
followed by the results of the descriptive research (§6.2). The third section explains the
connection between interventions and perceived complexities (§6.3). The conclusion will
answer the formulated research questions (§6.4).
6.1.
Results of the explanation building: formulating the hypotheses
Explanation building is used in order to find the ‘why’ behind phenomena (Yin, 2003). It is
used in this research to find the origins of perceived complexities, the origins of differences
in and the consequences of perceived complexities. Explanation building starts with an
initial hypothesis which is validated within the data-set and altered if necessary to let the
hypothesis comply with the data-set.
So how were the initial hypotheses formulated within this research? For the origins of
perceived complexities this research used a pre-formulated proposition. For the origins of
differences and the consequences of perceived complexities the tool of coding was used.
Both are explained below.
The proposition formulated in chapter three that perceived complexities could be driven by
role, education or interests of practitioners was used as initial hypothesis to explain the
origins of perceived complexities. This limited the research on the sources of perceived
complexities to these three components: they were based on common sense and confirmed
by the practical and tacit knowledge of KING/RPA.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The initial hypotheses necessary for explaining the differences and consequences of
perceived complexities were formulated with the help of coding (Bernard & Ryan, 2010):
coding is the process of assigning certain parts of the interview minutes to certain
categories. Parts of all interviews that refer to the same topic became comparable in this
way. The minutes of the interviews were coded with the following codes:
 The source(s) of perceived complexities. These were remarks of the respondents that
reflected upon the source and characteristics of their perceived complexity.
 Source(s) of differences in perceived complexities. These were remarks that reflected
upon differences in perceived complexities and why these differences occurred. Any
remarks about actions stimulating differences were also marked with this code.
 The opinion on different perceived complexities. These were remarks that gave some
form of judgement on the differences in perceived complexities.
 The consequences of different perceived complexities. These were remarks of the
respondents on the effects of differences in perceived complexities.
The interview minutes were paraphrased by the researcher after the codification of the
minutes. It was necessary to paraphrase the fragments of the minutes to make the
fragments comparable and more manageable for the research. All paraphrased fragments
can be found in appendix D.
This process led to initial hypotheses which were then checked within the data-set
according to the process of explanation building as described by Yin (2003). The data-set
consisted of three data types: the minutes of the interviews, the descriptions of the
perceived complexities (appendix B) and the case reports (chapter five).
There were three possible outcomes (when the initial hypothesis was checked within a
source). All three possible outcomes are described below.
1. The (general line of the) hypothesis was confirmed by the source. If confirmed in
total no adjustments were needed, if confirmed partly then the hypothesis was
altered in order to fit the hypothesis with that data source and all the previous
checked data sources.
2. The hypothesis was rejected by the source. If the source positioned itself in the
total opposite of the hypothesis, the hypothesis was not altered but the source
would be marked as rejecting.
3. No comments were made by the source. It is possible that no comments were made
in an interview because the interview consisted of open questions and was of a
qualitative nature: not all interviews were therefore 100% identical to each other.
This process made hypotheses from the initial hypotheses. The research then formulated a
threshold to increase validity: this prevented that an explanation given by only one source
would be considered as ‘truth’ or valid. A hypothesis would therefore be considered as a
valid explanation if it would apply with one of the following two thresholds:
 If at least three different respondents divided over at least two different cases
contributed to the hypothesis. Both confirmations and rejections counted as a
comment. If this situation occurred then the discussion provided in chapter seven
would elaborate on this contradiction.
 If the hypothesis was observed by the researcher in at least two different case reports.
This process of coding, categorising, interpreting, formulating and validating led to the
formulation of seven hypotheses which all complied with the formulated threshold. These
hypotheses are displayed in the text box below. The following paragraphs will elaborate in
detail how each hypothesis was constructed.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
FORMULATION OF THE HYPOTHESES
Hypothesis I: the selection of the TOE-elements is influenced by the impact of the elements
on the project and the degree of control that the practitioner has on the project complexity:
they occupy the mind of the practitioner.
Hypothesis II: the selection of the TOE-elements is influenced by experience of
practitioners.
Hypothesis III: the selection of the TOE-elements is based on the contextual variables of
the project.
Hypothesis IV: the judgement on the TOE-elements is influenced by the interests that the
practitioner represents in a project. These interests are (partly) based on the role of a
practitioner or on the personal values of a practitioner.
Hypothesis V: different perceived complexities originate in different levels of factual
knowledge.
Hypothesis VI: different perceived complexities lead to diffused and ineffective efforts of
actors and a bad collaboration, leading to poor project performance.
Hypothesis VII: different perceived complexities lead to a better understanding of the
system, the risks and the problems of the project, leading to good project performance.
Table 6.1 shows the result of the explanation building process for all seven hypotheses. It
shows which hypotheses were confirmed or rejected by which source. A justification of
these contributions can be found in appendix D.
Table 6.1 also shows that some hypotheses were confirmed by much more sources than
others: this creates the impression that some hypotheses are more valid than others. This
is true to a certain extent but it should however not be forgotten that this research is a
qualitative research: hypotheses therefore do not become necessarily more valid if they are
mentioned by a larger number of sources because the total number of sources (30
respondents) is still too small to formulate solid proven hypotheses. A comment made by
one respondent can be just as valuable as a comment made by thirty respondents,
dependent on the level of insight or knowledge of the respondent.
All seven hypotheses, mentioned by many or few respondents, were therefore marked as
equally valid but with the minor note that some hypotheses were confirmed by more
respondents than others.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
DP
I
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
R
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
CR
DP
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
CR
CR
C
C
C
C
C
I
C
C
DP
C
C
C
C
C
C
I
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
CR
I
C
C
C
R
C
C
C
R
C
C
R
R
C
C
C
DP
C
C
CR
C
R
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
CR
C
DP
VII: differences lead to
good project
performance
VI: differences
lead to poor
project
performance
V: levels of
factual
knowledge
I
DP
IV: Interests,
roles and
values
I
III: contextual
variables
II: Experience
# resp.
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
R9
R10
R11
R12
R13
R14
R15
R16
R17
R18
R19
R20
R21
R22
R23
R24
R25
R26
R27
R28
R29
R30
Case
1
2
3
4
5
I: impact,
control and
occupation of
mind
TABLE 6.1 RESULTS OF THE EXPLANATION BUILDING. EACH HYPOTHESIS IS CHECKED WITHIN THE
INTERVIEWS (I) WITHIN THE DESCRIPDOIONS OF PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES (DP) OR WITHIN THE CASE
REPORT (CR). HYPOTHESES WERE CONFIRMED (WITH OR WITHOUT ALTERING) OR REJECTED. AN EMPTY CELL
MEANS THAT NO STATEMENT HAS BEEN MADE IN THE SOURCE ON THE HYPOTHESIS.
I
DP
R
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
R
C
C
CR
C
C
Hypothesis I: the selection of the TOE-elements is influenced by the impact of the elements on
the project and the degree of control that the practitioner has on the project complexity: they
occupy the mind of the practitioner.
Hypothesis II: the selection of the TOE-elements is influenced by experience of practitioners.
Hypothesis I was based on three different groups of comments that were found in multiple
interviews. All three will be treated below.
The first group consisted of comments that dedicated the selection of TOE-elements to the
impact of an element on the project. These comments often indicated these elements as
the elements that caused problems in the project or the ones that the respondents
perceived to make the greatest impact on the project.
The second group consisted of comments that dedicated the selection of TOE-elements to
the occupation of the mind of the individual. These comments referred to the more than
average occupation of time and energy of respondents, or to the fact that the selected
elements were top of mind at the time over the interview.
The third group consisted of comments that dedicated the selection of the TOE-elements to
the degree of control an individual has over an element. Peculiar is the contradiction in the
answers within this group: respondents mentioned the lack of control as complex while
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
others mentioned the lack of control as not-complex since these elements do not lie within
their sphere of influence.
An overview of respondents that contributed to this hypothesis is given in chart 6.1.
20
19
15
CONTROL
IMPACT
10
OCCUPATION OF MIND
5
0
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
CHART 6.1 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS I AND THE DISTRUBUTION OF THE SUBANSWERS WITHIN THE HYPOTHESIS (N=19).
It was chosen to combine the three groups of comments into one hypothesis because the
topics of the three groups all interrelate: if an element makes a greater than average
impact or has the potential make such an impact, the individual transfers its mind to that
element and tries to control that element.
This interrelation between the groups was confirmed in seven interviews: these
respondents mentioned a combination of the three groups or all three groups in one
explanation as reasons for selecting their TOE-elements.
The hypothesis refers explicitly to the selection of TOE-elements, not to the judgement of
the elements: the interview asked explicitly why the respondents chose these elements, not
why they judged them the way they did.
Hypothesis II was purely based on the results of the explanation building within the
interviews (chart 6.2).
6
5
4
2
0
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
CHART 6.2 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS II
The hypotheses were considered valid since the hypotheses were not directly contradicted
in any interview, or in an interview-analysis or in a case report and both hypotheses
complied with the rules for selection. This also applies to the three groups of comments that
contributed to hypothesis I: each group complied individually with the formulated threshold.
Hypothesis III: the selection of the TOE-elements is based on the contextual variables of the
project.
Hypothesis III could already be expected based on chapter five (where a number of
contextual variables that were commonly shared between respondents were identified
within each case) and was indeed confirmed during the explanation building.
The hypothesis was based on several comments that had no connection at first sight but
turned out to have one thing in common: they all related to contextual variables.
The contributing comments all had the same characteristics: they explained why other
people would think different about complexity and on which elements these perceptions
would differ. The respondents mentioned a total of six contextual variables which they
indicated as sources of the perceptions of other people. An overview is given in chart 6.3.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
6
5
5
CAPEX
1
2
4
1
3
2
1
1
0
GEOGRAPHY
PHASE
1
2
URBANNESS
SCOPE
TYPE
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
CHART 6.3 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS III AND THE DISTRUBUTION OF THE SUBANSWERS WITHIN THE HYPOTHESIS (N=5).
The six mentioned contextual variables were not mentioned by enough respondents in
order to formulate a hypothesis which complied with the formulated threshold. The common
denominator was therefore selected as hypothesis, supported by the findings in the case
reports in chapter five. The hypothesis complies thereby with the formulated threshold for
selection.
The comments on the contextual variables were however insightful and provide information
on how a context variable leads to a certain perceived complexity. These comments were:
 The CAPEX is mentioned as source since projects with a high CAPEX are judged more
complex than projects with low CAPEX (note: the CAPEX is of course related to the size
of the project, however, the CAPEX was mentioned explicitly as contextual variable).
 The environment is mentioned as source since a more urban environment is judged as
a more complex environment than non-urban environments
 The geography is mentioned as source since projects that lie far away from the national
political centre are judged less complex
 The phase is mentioned as source since different phases lead to different judgements
on complexity
 The scope is mentioned as source since different scopes lead to different judgements
on complexity
 The type of project is mentioned as source since one type of project is perceived more
complex (e.g. a highway) than others (e.g. railroads)
The hypothesis refers again explicitly to the selection of elements, not to the judgement of
the elements. This is because the respondents all mentioned the contextual variables as
elements on which others base their perceived complexity and they thereby indicate that
the contextual variables were selected as cues for a perception.
This hypothesis can be partly validated within the data by triangulating the hypothesis: all
respondents were asked if their chosen top-3 TOE-elements were specific for the project
they worked on. Based on the hypothesis it could be expected that the answer to this
question would be ‘yes’ because perceived complexity are based on the context of a project
and that context differs within each project. The answers are displayed in chart 6.4.
20
15
15
12
10
3
5
0
YES
NO
N/A
CHART 6.4 ANSWERS ON THE QUESTION “ARE THESE TOP-3 ELEMENTS PROJECT-SPECIFIC?” (N=30)
It turned out that that a small majority of the respondents answered “no”. This could
indicate that contextual variables are important causes of perceived complexities but not
the most important cause. This possibility will be further elaborated in chapter seven.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Hypothesis IV: the judgement on the TOE-elements is influenced by the interests that the
practitioner represents in a project. These interests are (partly) based on the role of a practitioner
or on the personal values of a practitioner.
Hypothesis IV was also based on three different groups of comments made by separate
respondents. The hypothesis was however also found to a large extend within the
descriptions of the perceived complexities (appendix B).
The three groups of comments that contributed to hypothesis IV are: comments that were
made on the interests that practitioners represent within projects, comments that were
made on personal values of practitioners and comments made on the role that practitioners
had within a project. An overview of these three groups is given in chart 6.5.
25
20
20
15
INTERESTS
PERSONAL VALUES
ROLE
10
5
0
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
CHART 6.5 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESIS IV AND THE DISTRUBUTION OF THE SUBANSWERS WITHIN THE HYPOTHESIS (N=20).
The first group of answers indicated interests of individuals as the source for perceived
complexities. These interests are the interests the person is representing within the project,
whatever interest that might be. Some respondents indicated that there were two
categories of people when it came to interests: people that represent the interest of their
own company/organisation and people that represent the interest of the project.
The second group of answers indicated personal values as source of perceived complexities.
These respondents mentioned personal values as a motive behind the interest they
represented. Mentioned values are for example the importance of public participation in
decision-making or the importance of safety within projects.
“My approach is to realise the best possible project to society. Others choose the politically correct approach:
this often results in reduced quality of the project„
Interviewee – PDO member
The third group of answers indicated the role of an individual as a source for perceived
complexities. Mentioned examples were the differences between designers and contractors,
between engineers and the rest of the world or between public and private parties. They all
come down to the same proposition that the role of an individual in the project is a source
for perceived complexity.
“Market parties think in terms of time and money. Public agencies think in quality„
Interviewee – PDO member
The decision to subordinate the role and the personal value of a practitioner to the interest
of the practitioner was based on three arguments.
First, eight respondents mentioned a combination role and interest within the same
interview.
Second, the descriptions of the perceived complexities (appendix B) showed that the
interests of the respondent could very often be logically connected to the perceived
complexity of the respondent.
Third, the descriptions of the perceived complexities showed that almost all descriptions of
interests were based on the role or value of the respondent.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The relation between the role, personal value, interest and perceived complexity is
graphically shown in figure 6.1.
FIGURE 6.1 THE RELATION BETWEEN A ROLE, A VALUE, AN INTEREST AND A PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY
This hypothesis furthermore refers to the judgement of the TOE-elements, not to the
selection of the TOE-elements. This was derived from the confrontation of respondents with
the top-3 elements of their project manager: the respondents seemed to recognize the
selected cues of the project manager as logical choices but indicated that they judged them
differently due to differing roles.
The hypothesis was considered valid because the hypothesis complies with the threshold;
all three sub-elements do as well and the logical connection between roles, values and
interests was confirmed in the descriptions of the perceived complexities.
This hypothesis can also be partly validated within the data, again by applying
triangulation. Because all respondents were asked if their top-3 of TOE-elements was rolespecific (or in other words: would they have chosen the same top-3 elements if they had
another role in the project?) it could be derived if the respondents agreed on the
hypothesis: all respondents that indicated an interest based on their role were expected to
answer “yes” to this question, all respondents that indicated an interest based on their
personal value were expected to answer “no” to this question.
The respondents were therefore split into respondents that had a role-based interest and
respondent that had a value-based interest. The results are shown in chart 6.6.
14
12
10
12
10
8
YES
5
6
4
2
2
NO
1
0
ROLE-BASED
VALUE-BASED
N/A
CHART 6.6 ANSWERS OF RESPONDENTS ON THE QUESTION “WOULD YOU INDICATE THE SAME TOP-3 WHEN YOU
WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT ROLE?” SPLIT ON ROLE-BASED-INTERESTS AND VALUE-BASED-INTERESTS (N=25).
Again the answers were not as expected. This could, just as with hypothesis II, indicate
that interests are a cause of perceived complexity but not the main cause. This discussion
will also be elaborated in chapter seven.
Hypothesis V: different perceived complexities originate in different levels of factual knowledge
Hypothesis V is purely based on the explanation building done within interviews. Ten
respondents indicated that different levels of factual knowledge formed the basis of
differences in perceived complexities. This knowledge mostly referred to technical
knowledge: knowing how certain technical systems, techniques or methods work made a
difference in perceived complexities according to respondents. The knowledge-level on
organisational components, such as the contract or the risks, was also indicated as
contributing to perceived complexities. In the opinion of most respondents the projects
were perceived more complex when no knowledge was available on (parts of) the projects.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The decision not to indicate ‘level of factual knowledge’ as a source (but only as a source of
differences) was deliberately made: eight of the nine respondents mentioned (the lack of)
factual knowledge with other persons as a source of difference, not as a source of their own
perception; only one respondent mentioned it as a source for his own perceived complexity.
Since this hypothesis complies with the formulated threshold it is considered to be valid.
Hypothesis VI: different perceived complexities lead to diffused and ineffective efforts of actors
and a bad collaboration, leading to poor project performance.
Hypothesis VII: different perceived complexities lead to a better understanding of the system, the
risks and the problems of the project, leading to good project performance.
Chapter five demonstrated that different perceptions impacted project performance:
hypotheses VI and VII are the answers to the question how they impact project
performance.
At first sight they appear to be rival explanations of the same phenomenon but they are
not: explanation building shows that both hypotheses can be applicable at the same time.
This is because respondents that indicated different perceived complexities as a positive
phenomenon still mentioned negative consequences of these differences.
There was also a third group of respondents that indicated that different perceived
complexities did not influence project performance in any way. They were labelled as a rival
respondent towards both hypotheses at the same time.
“Different perceived complexities are the realities of the project„
Interviewee – PDO member
The number of respondents contributing to hypothesis VI, VII or rivalling VI and VII are
shown in chart 6.7.
20
19
15
10
5
9
5
0
NUMBER OF
NUMBER OF
NUMER OF RIVAL
RESPONDENTS VI RESPONDENTS RESPONDENTS
VII
CHART 6.7 NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS CONTRIBUTING TO HYPOTHESES VI AND VII AND THE NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS THAT RIVAL BOTH HYPOTHESISES
Confirmation of hypothesis VI was, besides in the interviews, also found in the case report
of case five: different perceptions seemed to stall the progress of the project. Confirmation
of hypothesis VII was found in cases four and five: different perceived complexities seemed
to benefit project performance within those projects.
Because both hypotheses could be more than once confirmed at the same time within one
single interview and because both hypotheses apply to different case reports, it was
decided to judge both hypotheses as valid at the same time.
Both hypotheses were however challenged by five respondents (which is a substantial
number). These respondents indicated that different perceived complexities had no
influence on project performance. This leads to the proposition that there is a third possible
impact of different perceived complexities: no impact. This will be considered in answering
the research question in the conclusion.
6.2.
Results of the descriptive research: interventions dealing with project complexity
Chapter four already mentioned some interventions that respondents applied to deal with
project complexity. Descriptive research was used in order to locate, describe and
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
categorise all mentioned interventions dealing with project complexity. This section will
present the results of this identification and the next chapter will provide a reflection on
these descriptions.
The interventions were identified within the in-depth interviews. Respondents were asked
how they managed their top-3 TOE-elements and were later on specifically asked how
perceived complexities were managed in the project. Some respondents elaborated more
on how they managed complexity than others and therefore mentioned multiple
interventions dealing with complexity.
All interviews were coded on interventions and these interview-parts were interpreted by
the researcher: the researcher summarised all interview paragraphs into concrete
interventions.
This resulted in a list of 213 interventions dealing with project complexity which were
categorised by three steps: (1) they were first sort by role, (2) then by the aimed objective
of the intervention and (3) then by intervention-type. All three categorisations will be
explained and justified below.
First all interventions were categorised by the role-groups as earlier presented in chapter
three. This categorisation was the most logical since the perceived complexities of
respondents were also primarily based on the role of the respondents (see §6.1): this
makes the categorisation by role the most logical categorisation.
Second all interventions were categorised based on their aimed objective: every role
mentioned interventions that were applicable within their own role (so interventions that
improved the performance of themselves) or interventions that dealt with other rolegroups. This means that civil principals, local stakeholders and contractors mentioned
interventions that were aimed at managing the complexity between themselves and the
Project Delivery Organisation. It also means that members of Project Delivery Organisations
indicated interventions to deal with all these three role-groups. This is graphically visualised
in figure 6.2.
The identification of the ‘internal interventions’ (used by civil principals, local stakeholders
and contractors mentioned to manage themselves) seems to contradict with the previous
statement that this research focuses itself only on a Project Delivery Organisation’s
perspective. It is however believed that insights into these interventions benefit the Project
Delivery Organisation since they create awareness for the actions of others.
Interventions between local stakeholders, civil principals and contractors were not the main
focus point of this research and are therefore not mentioned. This however does not imply
that they are absent: they are just not described in this research.
FIGURE 6.2 VISUALISATION OF THE 10 DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF RESEARCHED INTERVENTIONS. EVERY ARROW
SYMBOLISES A CATEGORY OF INTERVENTIONS
Third all interventions were categorised based on the framework constructed in chapter
two. This means that all interventions were classified as controlling, connecting or actuating
interventions.
The results are shown below. For each role-group the interventions to manage themselves
are displayed followed by the interventions that dealt with the PDO. The interventions that
were mentioned by the PDO to deal with the specific role-group were mentioned third.
Some interventions towards other role-groups were not interventions to deal with that
other role-group but advices to the other role-group on how that group should manage
project complexity. These advices were mentioned because they were seen as a specific
kind of interventions but they are clearly indicated as advice in the overviews.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
It should be emphasized that this research did not formulate a threshold to test if an
intervention should be mentioned in this research: every intervention was described. This
means for example that an intervention that was mentioned by one respondent was equally
valued to an intervention that was mentioned by ten respondents. This is due to the
qualitative and descriptive nature of the assessment: the objective is to identify
interventions, not to judge them.
6.2.1. Interventions mentioned by and about civil principals
Civil principals focussed their interventions in managing the process of decision-making
(table 6.2). They mainly mentioned controlling interventions towards the PDO (table 6.3)
and did not mention actuating interventions.
PDOs mentioned a noteworthy amount of actuating interventions towards civil principals
(table 6.4) which are meant to influence the process of decision-making. They emphasized
the importance of clear and swift decision-making so that PDOs could focus on the
execution of the project.
TABLE 6.2 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CIVIL PRINCIPALS MENTIONED BY
CIVIL PRINCIPALS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Always keep talking to other civil principals
Separate the task to defend an interest from the task to lead to process of decision-making
interventions
Prepare decisions on lower organisational-levels before the actual decision between
organisations is taken
Create time by disconnecting critical project components from the project in the tender
Connecting
Surround yourself with people that think different from yourself
Involve all important stakeholders in decision-making
interventions
Be open and transparent towards others
Create awareness of the project and its problems within the own organisation
Steer on understanding other people’s realities
Communicate often with interfacing projects
Actuating
Put pressure on decision-making by enabling superiors
Apply either a lead-and-follow-approach or a consensus-approach to enforce decision-making
interventions
Create ownership of the project by creating an ownership-consultation
TABLE 6.3 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO THE PROJECT DELIVERY
ORGANISATION MENTIONED BY CIVIL PRINCIPALS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Make use of independent experts to assess the judgements of PDOs
interventions
Organise the PDO in an independent project bureau
Create an internal body within the PDO that checks the PDO
Coach the PDO with the help of independent coaches
Replace people within the PDO if they block progress
Carefully judge the design alternatives of the PDO
Connecting
Create a workspace where people from the civil principals and the PDO can physically interact
interventions
with each other
Do not involve more people when project performance is poor: they increase complexity
Ask open questions towards the PDO and ask the questions behind questions
Create trust with the PDO by attending informal meeting and organising activities between
civil principals and the PDO
Make use of interpreters to transfer messages correctly to the PDO
Actuating
interventions
TABLE 6.4 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CIVIL PRINCIPALS MENTIONED BY
PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Manage civil principals by explaining the complexity of the project in a clear story
interventions
Make detailed designs as early as possible in the process
Advice. Organise the PDO in an independent project bureau
Advice. Provide enough budget and time in order to reduce project complexity
Advice. Civil principals need to make decisions on time and with enough available budget so
that the environment can be approached transparent and open by the PDOs
Connecting
Create trust and awareness with all important civil principals
interventions
Create a tool that supports the story when explaining project complexity to civil principals
Actuating
Build an unofficial intern network to enforce or influence decision-making
interventions
Explain others’ perceived complexities within the own organisation
Initiate concrete solutions to support decision-making between civil principals
Make strong statements to enforce decision-making
Let sponsors co-sign important decisions to create awareness
Escalate problems to superiors so that they can enforce decision-making at civil principals
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6.2.2. Interventions mentioned by and about contractors
Contractors mentioned a large number of controlling interventions to deal with project
complexity (table 6.5) and did not mention one single connecting intervention. There were
some general remarks that old-fashioned contracting resulted in delivering a project but
that more modern contracting focuses on delivering a service: the traditional approach
however caused a lot of damage to the image of contractors and still needs to be repaired.
Towards the PDO the contractors mentioned however primarily connecting interventions
(table 6.6). Controlling interventions were all formulated as an advice, which indicates that
contractors believed that PDOs must take controlling measures in order to make a
connection with contractors possible.
PDOs mentioned on their turn a large number of controlling interventions to deal with the
contractor (table 6.7). They primarily indicated that contractors had to do more than just
‘building’: they also had to conduct environmental communication and had to show
responsibility for delivering an integral design.
“It is a great mistake to make the contractor responsible for everything: this privatises the neighbours’
quarrel but its consequences will eventually catch up double with public authorities„
Interviewee – local stakeholder
TABLE 6.5 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CONTRACTORS MENTIONED BY
CONTRACTORS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Environmental managers need to claim space within PDOs of contractors
interventions
Organise interface meetings and apply systems engineering to bring decisions into action
Replace people if they do not accept the project management approach
Find adequate people within scientific institutes and pensioned engineers
Stress the collaboration between sub-contractors
Combine the DB and MO organisation within one organisation (applicable to DBFM(O)
contracts)
Manage the relations between disciplines
Create time by conducting processes parallel instead of sequential
Use systems engineering to execute large contracts
Manage expectations of project employees by communicating clearly about deadlines
Connecting
interventions
Actuating
Some people must defend the interests of third parties within the own organisation
interventions
TABLE 6.6 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO THE PROJECT DELIVERY
ORGANISATION MENTIONED BY CONTRACTORS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Advice. The PDO needs to mirror its organisation to the contractor so that the counterparts
interventions
between both organisations become clear
Advice. The PDO needs to ensure that the right and complete information is provided
Advice. The PDO needs to take responsibility for certain project tasks (e.g. environmental
communication) instead of transferring them to the contractors
Connecting
Settle differences with the help of independent third parties
Separate conflicts from the process by reaching ‘agree to disagree’
interventions
Communicate transparent and honest: create trust
Exchange interests between both parties
Create a workspace where people from the contractor and the PDO can physically interact
with each other
Arrange a PSU in which both parties participate and exchange visions. Organise frequent
follow-ups
Design a clear consultation structure which makes clear who needs to talk about what to
whom
Create continuity in staffing to ensure a long collaboration between the same people
Organise 1-on-1 meetings between counterparts of the contractor and the PDO
Advice. PDOs need to make the first move in creating trust and a good collaboration
Actuating
People must focus on project interests instead of company interests while collaborating
People must think win-win during collaboration, not lose-win or win-lose
interventions
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TABLE 6.7 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO CONTRACTORS MENTIONED BY
PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Fix the remuneration in the tendering phase to focus the tenders on quality
interventions
Control communication of other PDO members during the dialogue phase in order to prevent a
juridical falsification of the dialogues
Create a clear and unambiguous design core which functions as layer for conversations
Choose the appropriate contract type: integrated contracts provide less space for interactivity
Formulate clear unambiguous criteria in the contract
Conduct audits with the contractor to control progress (applicable to integrated contracts)
Force the contractor to participate in environmental communication
Force the contractor to be the integral design leader among sub-contractors
PDOs must manage the expectations of contractors
Ask detailed designs during the dialogue phase to ensure a qualitative design
Be willing to end the contract if a contractor fails to for fill its duties
Connecting
Organise interface meetings
Create a good atmosphere during the dialogue phase: this forms a foundation for future
interventions
collaboration
Create a workspace where people from the contractor and the PDO can physically interact
with each other
Create continuity in staffing to ensure a long collaboration between the same people
Show a vulnerable attitude towards the contractor and endure this attitude longer than
comfortable
Arrange a PSU in which both parties participate and exchange visions. Organise frequent
follow-ups
Handle complexity together as a team, do not fight each other
Actuating
Enable authorities to empower legislation towards contractors
Use the contractor to negotiate with local authorities on permits
interventions
Public parties need to stay involved in the project to defend the public interest (applicable to
D&C and DBFMO contracts)
Escalate decisions to superiors if contractors and PDO cannot come to a decision
6.2.3. Interventions mentioned by and about local stakeholders
Local stakeholders mentioned a noteworthy low number of interventions which they applied
to themselves (table 6.8) but did mentioned a large number of advices towards the Project
Delivery Organisation (table 6.9): these advices also contained, besides connecting
interventions, controlling interventions that functioned as pre-condition to establish a
collaboration between PDOs and local stakeholders.
PDOs in their turn mentioned a lot of interventions to deal with external stakeholders (table
6.10); approximately half of these interventions were intended to control local
stakeholders. Local stakeholders advised however connecting interventions as the best
suited intervention-type towards local stakeholders.
“You should not just send and receive messages: you have to actively look for questions in the projects’
environment„
Interviewee – PDO member
TABLE 6.8 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS MENTIONED
BY LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Focus attention to the own circle of influence
interventions
Connecting
Keep conversations going with the PDO
Advice. Create a workspace where local stakeholders and the PDO can physically interact with
interventions
each other
Actuating
Explain the perceived complexities of others within the own organisation
interventions
Be prepared to operate between the rules and protocols to ensure progress
Use perceived complexities as a strategic tool to influence decision-making
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TABLE 6.9 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
MENTIONED BY LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Explain your complexity with the support of photos and pictures
Advice. Provide all stakeholders with all information
interventions
Advice. Do not make the PDO responsible for defending the interests of the environment but
an independent party: this prevents conflicts of interests
Advice. Centralise the results towards the environment in the project: mind about working
hours
Advice. Turn the responsibility for the burden of proof when it comes to damage: the PDO
must show that they are not responsible for damage
Advice. Manage expectations by communicating clear about the available budget for the
project
Advice. Replace people within the PDO if they are not capable in connecting to the
environment
Advice. PDOs need to stay involved in environmental communication and not shift all
responsibilities to the contractor
Advice. Create enough budget to manage the complexity within the project
Advice. Make the compensation desk equally important to the project bureau
Connecting
Listen carefully to each other and show empathy for other perceived complexities
interventions
Communicate different experiences and create thereby trust without mitigating arguments
Prepare formal meetings between the PDO and the environment in informal meetings
Create space to obey interests of others
Kindness is important in the interaction with other people
Advice. Build goodwill in the environment: this functions as castor oil in the project
Advice. Involve the environment early in the process
Advice. Show construction decency in order to strengthen the relation between project and
the environment
Advice. Make sure that the employees of the contractor have fun in their work
Advice. Make civil principals aware of the risks and conditions of projects an grow awareness
on the option to not execute a project
Actuating
Enforce participation with the help of juridical processes
Build an internal network within the organisation of the PDO to influence decision-making:
interventions
focus on the experts that can strengthen your own arguments
TABLE 6.10 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS MENTIONED
BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Separate the task to defend an interest from the task to lead to process of decision-making
Manage expectations of the environment by preparing and motivating decisions carefully
interventions
Translate the most important environmental demands into contractual criteria (applicable to
D&C contracts)
Manage expectations on damage compensation
Communicate important issues and the way they are handled directly to the environment.
Create confidence by applying actions based on knowledge
Make a clean assessment of all environmental interests
Do not adept the environmental strategy to information evenings; the present individuals are
usually not representative for the entire environment
Connecting
The interests of environment must be at the same level as interests of the construction
Involve the environment as early as possible in the process
interventions
Steer on understanding, not on consensus: seek interaction without informing the
environment
Show a vulnerable attitude towards the environment by admitting the facts you do not know
and communicate transparent
Do not tell your own story but listen: perceptions are the reality
Connect the workmen with the environment to enhance understanding
Conduct Joint Fact Finding together with the environment: independent third parties, selected
by the environment and paid by the project, investigate certain project parts
Design a clear consultation structure with the environment: a combination between 1-on-1
meetings, round table meetings and information evenings
Actuating
Build an unofficial intern network to enforce or influence decision-making at local stakeholders
Involve the environment to co-design
interventions
Escalate problems to powerful superiors in order to enforce decision-making at local
stakeholders
6.2.4. Interventions mentioned by PDOs about PDOs
The final group of interventions were the interventions mentioned by PDO-members and
applicable to PDOs.
PDO-members mentioned a balance between controlling and connecting interventions (table
6.11). They furthermore emphasized that the right people made the difference and that
project management was a combination of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ management techniques.
One interesting remark made by several respondents is that the interests of the project
should be centralized within project management, not the interests of the individual
companies contributing to the PDO or other companies.
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TABLE 6.11 INTERVENTIONS DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY APPLICABLE TO PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
MENTIONED BY PROJECT DELIVERY ORGANISATIONS
Type
Mentioned interventions
Controlling
Replace PDO-members if there is too much alignment within the PDO
interventions
Create a clear PDO with dedicated employees
Do not focus the PM approach on planning, scope and budget: they are expressions of
problems, not sources
Steer on unambiguous views by providing all PDO-members with the same information
Keep in close contact with line-management to prevent staffing problems
Create redundancy by pointing out assistants for each role in the PDO
Involve market parties if the available in-house knowledge proves to be inadequate
Content experts must claim enough space with overall project management to execute their
jobs
Create time by executing project parts parallel instead of sequential
De-bundle, de-phase and decompose if a project is getting too complex
Apply an integral approach towards the assignment
Connecting
Focus on perceptions of PDO-members to create learning-loops
interventions
Do not focus on tools in the PM approach: focus on people and their skills
Cultivate a culture by showing example behaviour and centring values
Create a workspace where PDO-members can physically interact with each other
Listen to what is meant, not to what is said. Ask the questions behind questions: these
questions need to be open and answers need to be provided with examples
Explain your own perceived complexity clearly to others
Create understanding for the contribution of one role in the bigger picture
Select the right people: they must have fun, be ambitious, happy, trustful, valiant and
transparent
Staff the right people in the right phase of the project: different phased require different type
of people
Use experts on detailed topics to understand the project
Focus management on the relations between disciplines
Actuating
Project managers must stimulate other PDO-members to discover the project on their own
Create the right knowledge and information necessary for PDO-members to do their jobs
interventions
Escalate problems to powerful superiors in order to enforce PDO-members to listen
6.2.5. Perception-based management
Respondents mentioned a large number of interventions that were related to management
of different perceived complexities: these interventions were all categorised as connecting
interventions.
Respondents were specifically asked for interventions dealing with different perceived
complexities: this explains the large number of mentioned interventions on this topic. The
respondents were however also asked how important these interventions were within the
total picture of project management: a large majority answered that the management of
different perceived complexities was very important. This indicates that these interventions
were not only mentioned because they were asked for but also because they were
considered as important interventions.
This embeds perception-based management in the total project management of LCPs. The
same contradiction as found in the hypothesis earlier can however also be found within
mentioned interventions: respondents mentioned interventions that prevented perceived
complexities from becoming a problem and they mentioned interventions that used
perceived complexities to improve project performance.
Chapter seven will further elaborate on perception-based management and the managerial
consequences. The term perception-based management refers to the control and use of
perceived complexities within LCPs: this term will be used from now on throughout the
remainders of this thesis.
6.3.
Interventions and perceived complexities
Chapter five showed that it was plausible that perceived complexities were related to
interventions dealing with complexity thereby stating the proposition that a perceived
complexity of an individual influences the interventions that the individual applies to deal
with complexity.
The perceived complexities of respondents were categorised according to the earlier
formulated four types of perceptions, showed in chapter five (figure 5.28). The question
now is if these four types of perceived complexities lead to different interventions dealing
with complexity.
All respondents were therefore classified within the four types of possible perceived
complexities. The ratio of controlling, connecting and actuating interventions for each
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
perception-type was then determined and the results are shown in chart 6.8. Since only
one respondent was identified with the second type perceived complexity (‘challenge
without influence’) this perception-type was not based as valid enough to compare it with
the other three types.
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
CONNECTING
40%
CONTROLLING
30%
ACTUATING
20%
10%
0%
Challenge with
Challenge
Problem with
influence
without
influence
"Doing your
influence
"Spent the day
job„
"It is what it is„ putting out
fires„
Problem
without
influence
"Powerless„
CHART 6.8 THE RATIO OF CONNECTING, CONTROLLING AND ACTUATING INTERVENTIONS FOR EACH TYPE OF
PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY (n=30). ONLY ONE RESPONDENT WAS LABELLED AS TYPE-II (“IT IS WHAT IT IS”) AND
THEREFORE THIS OUTCOME WAS NOT CONSIDERED VALID FOR THIS RESEARCH.
Chart 6.8 shows that the balance between connecting, controlling and actuating
interventions is relatively similar within the first and third type of perceived complexities.
The fourth however shows a much greater share of actuating and controlling interventions
compared to the first three types of perceived complexities.
So respondents that based their perceived complexity on a low level of influence and
perceived complexity as a problem indicated much more controlling and actuating
interventions then others. This might indicate that the more someone feels in control, the
more connecting interventions are used. Or it might indicate that the more connecting
interventions are used, the more someone feels in control. This research does not provide
enough data to exclude one of these two options.
6.4.
Conclusion
This chapter showed the results of the data analysis, consisting of explanation building and
descriptive research. The explanation building led to several hypotheses which were used to
answer the research questions formulated in the introduction of this chapter. The
descriptive research provided insights into the management of project complexity in
practice and the connection between different perceived complexities and interventions.
6.4.1. How do the different perceived complexities originate?
The lens model in chapter four described perceived complexities: it thereby showed that the
construction of a perceived complexity takes place by selecting and judging cues from the
real world. It also showed that the TOE-elements could be seen as these cues but it did not
answer the question why practitioners select specific TOE-elements and why they judged
them the way they did.
This chapter showed that the selection of TOE-elements as cues is influenced by at least
three separate drivers: (1) the impact of an element on the project and the control the
practitioner has on this element; (2) the contextual variables of the project and (3) the
experience of the practitioner.
The second driver (the contextual variables) was however contradicted by several
respondents. These rivalling explanations need to be researched in chapter seven.
The proposition that education is a driver behind selection of cues was rejected.
This chapter also showed that the judgement on the TOE-elements is driven by at least one
driver: the interest that the practitioner represents in a project. This interest is based on
the role of an individual and/or on the personal values of a individual.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
This driver was also contradicted by several respondents and therefore also needs
discussion in chapter seven.
Differences in perceived complexities of practitioners can be logically explained with these
four different sources: differences in perceived complexities within the same project
originate in different levels of control on elements, different levels of experience and
different represented interests. Differences in perceived complexities between different
projects originate from different contextual variables of projects.
Differences in perceived complexities also originate in the different levels of factual
knowledge of practitioners.
6.4.2. How do perceived complexities affect interventions dealing with complexity?
Paragraph 6.3 showed that respondents who perceived complexity as a problem without
influence (“powerless”) on it tend to indicate a considerably higher ratio of controlling and
actuating interventions than other respondents.
The data however does not provide enough evidence to state that the perceived complexity
is the cause of this high ratio: it could also be the case that the use of connecting
interventions influenced the perceived complexities of the other respondents.
It is however also clear that mentioned interventions defer between role-groups and that
perceived complexities are mainly based on roles of individuals (chapter five): this
connection makes it feasible that interventions and perceived complexities have some kind
of connection.
It is therefore concluded that there is indeed a relation between perceived complexities and
the type of used interventions dealing with project complexity. The specifics of this relation
can however not be determined within the available data-set and is a topic for further
research.
6.4.3. What are the implications of different perceived complexities on project performance?
The data analysis showed four different ways of handling perceived complexities: the way
of handling determined the impact on project performance and therefore these four ways of
handling need to be explained together with their impact on project performance.
The way of handling perceived complexities is determined by three parameters which
together typify the way of handling. These parameters are the level of awareness, the
acceptance of differences and the judgement on these differences. All three parameters will
be explained below.
The first parameter is awareness which indicates whether people are aware of different
perceived complexities. Without awareness there is no possibility to handle different
perceived complexities: awareness is an important precondition for perception basedmanagement.
This research did not encounter projects which were totally unaware of perceived
complexities, which is not strange: all projects already participated in the first round of
research which confronted a large part of the respondents with differences prior to this
research.
The fourth case however showed what the consequences of unawareness could be: this
case did not paid attention to different perceived complexities in the past and the
respondents of this case indicated that this had led to (very) poor project performance.
The second parameter is the level of acceptance which indicates if different perceived
complexities are accepted or rejected. Rejection indicates that the efforts will focus on one
single perceived complexity for all actors and stakeholders within the project: it means that
differences are eliminated and one single perception is strived for. Acceptance means that
different perceived complexities are accepted and that there is no effort whatsoever to alter
or eliminate perceived complexities.
Very little respondents indicated that they reject perceived complexities and strive for a
single definition but it was mentioned by enough respondents to consider it as a valid
parameter.
The third parameter is the judgement on these differences which indicates how the different
perceived complexities are used within the project. The different kinds of judgements are
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
reflected within hypothesis VI and VII: perceived complexities can be used to improve
project performance or perceived complexities must be controlled in order to prevent poor
project performance.
These two statements may look mutually exclusive but they are however not: respondents
that mentioned positive effects of different perceived complexities also indicated negative
consequences of these differences.
This led to the theory that both statements are part of the same process: at first, different
perceived complexities need to be controlled by creating a common understanding between
the practitioners (hypothesis VI) and then they can be used in order to improve the
projects’ performance (hypothesis VII).
The case reports (chapter five) showed this as well: cases three and four were both cases
that were judged as performing well and they were also the only two cases who thought of
different perceived complexities as a chance to improve project performance. This is a
strong indication for a causal connection between the judgement on perceived complexities
and projects’ performance.
These three parameters lead in the opinion of the author to the four ways of handling
different perceived complexities: they can be ignored, they can be eliminated, they can be
controlled and they can be exploited. The case reports led to the proposition that these
actions are steps in improving project performance: ignorance leads to least improved
performance, followed by elimination, then by control and finally exploitation leads to the
most improved performance. These different handlings and their relation are shown in
figure 6.3.
FIGURE 6.3 DIFFERENT WAYS OF HANDLING DIFFERENT PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES
The arrow flowing back from exploitation to control refers to the recalibration of the
common understanding. This will be further elaborated in chapter seven.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Awareness is seen as a pre-condition for the other three ways of handling differences. The
remaining three ways of handling are actually two ways of handling: exploitation is seen as
the next step after control. This leaves two different management approaches towards
perceived complexities when awareness is assumed as pre-condition. These two approaches
are graphically shown in table 6.4. The figure on the left shows the elimination of perceived
complexities, the figure on the right shows the control and exploitation of these differences.
The right figure is split into an A and a B part: the A part refers to the view that perceived
complexities need to be controlled to prevent problems; the B part that perceived
complexities can to be exploited to improve project performance.
TABLE 6.12 MODELS OF THE TWO DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT APPROACHES TOWARDS DIFFERENT PERCEIVED
COMPLEXITIES ONCE AWARENESS IS CREATED
Performance & model
Elimination
Control/Exploitation
Indication of project
+
++/+++
performance
Corresponding model
Chapter seven will elaborate on the impact of these models on the management of project
complex within projects.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
7. Results & discussion
Chapter six showed that two management approaches towards perceived complexities and
four ways of handling them were extracted from the data. It designed a model used to
indicate how different perceived complexities could be managed within LCPs.
These outcomes were internally validated with the project managers and externally
validated in an expert meeting with approximately 30 construction practitioners. The
outcomes were also reflected in literature. This chapter will describe the results of this
validation.
The following sub-research question will be answered in this chapter:
 What do different perceived complexities mean for project management? (sub-question
G)
The first section will reflect on the mentioned interventions to deal with project complexity
and will argue perception-based management as an important method to deal with project
complexity (§7.1). The second part will discuss the implications of different perceived
complexities on project performance and the concept of perception-based management
(§7.2). This discussion is followed by the managerial implications of this research (§7.3).
The chapter ends with the indication of the limitations of this research (§7.4).
7.1.
Dealing with project complexity
The descriptive research showed distinct differences between the different role-groups in
mentioned interventions. This section reflects on these described interventions with the
help of literature.
The mentioned interventions by PDOs show a balance between controlling and
connecting/actuating interventions which was also found within the literature described in
chapter two: management of project complexity consists of the control-approach combined
with the hands-off-approach. Other role-groups show however a different balance in
mentioned interventions. The following section will reflect on the interventions between the
PDOs and the other role groups.
The first notable group of interventions that is treated are the interventions between civil
principals and PDOs. These interventions show that civil principals tend to focus on the
process of decision-making and the control of the PDOs. PDOs on the other hand focus
primarily on actuating interventions when they deal with civil principals.
This focus on decision-making has everything to do with the problems in making those
decisions: there are often many civil principals that need to reach agreement on the
assignment that is handed over to a PDO. These civil principals often have contradicting
interests and therefore decision-making appears to be quite difficult. The role of funding
agencies (providing grants) seems to be especially peculiar: they can be the sponsor of the
project without taking responsibility for it.
These many civil principals that do not claim ownership of projects can lead to poor
decision-making: the assignment is not clear enough, does not provide the necessary
budget and/or does not provide enough available time to execute the project in an ordered
way.
“The role of funding agencies within the process of decision making is very figurative: it is a risk-adverse role
and funding is only awarded after tendering„
Interviewee – PDO member
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The process of decision-making can lead to poor performance and civil principals respond to
this by applying more controlling interventions towards the PDOs.
But PDOs desire exactly the opposite: they want more ‘freedom’ to execute the project and
therefore try to steer on an unambiguous and clear assignment with sufficient available
budget. This explains the high number of actuating interventions from PDOs towards civil
principals.
PDOs also indicate that the controlling interventions of the civil principals work adverse
since they increase project complexity: PDOs have to dedicate more time to the response
on the controlling interventions of the project principals. This leads to less dedicated time in
actually managing the execution of the project.
This explanation is justified with the following data:
 The poor performance in case one was ascribed by respondents to the lack of decision
making between several civil principals.
 The mandate given to the project managers of cases three and four was seen as a precondition for the good project performance within these cases (as validated with these
project managers).
 The uncertainty in the scope of case five was caused by the interventions of the civil
principal.
 Several respondents indicated that establishing a project bureau would lead to better
project performance since it creates freedom for the PDO.
This theory is strengthened by the theory of Winch (2013). He researched the causes of
escalations in major projects and concluded that the majority of the causes lay within the
process of decision-making and the commitment to wrong decisions (figure 7.1).
The statements about the project sponsor are also confirmed by Favari (2012) who
indicates that the sponsor of a project needs to be known so that they can be held
responsible for the performance of the project.
FIGURE 7.1 ANALYTICAL MODEL OF PROJECT ESCALATION. FROM: Winch (2013)
Contractors mention primarily controlling interventions to deal complexity and mention
much more controlling interventions than PDOs. This connects to the theory of Davies and
Mackenzie (2013): the contractor is responsible for a system within a system and these
systems need a controlling management approach. The PDOs focus themselves on the
bigger picture and act therefore more on the level of meta-systems: these systems require
a more hands-off approach.
It is however contradicting that contractors mention their new role as service-provider but
do not mention connecting interventions: part of this service is supposed to be the
interconnection with the environment of the project.
“It is not natural for contractors to think from a users’ perspective„
Interviewee - contractor
Local stakeholders did mention very little interventions that they could apply themselves
but did indicate that PDOs should apply a connecting approach towards local stakeholders.
PDOs seem to apply this approach sparsely: they often still approach the environment with
the intention to manage stakeholders instead of connecting to them.
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The several role-groups also mentioned overlapping interventions to deal with project
complexity. These interventions seem to be independent of the role and can be seen as
overall interventions that deal with project complexity:
 Interact physically. Several respondents mentioned the importance of physical contact
rather than communication by telephone or computer. A workspace where multiple
parties are present (e.g. an office space) is preferred.
“Being close to each other works. 100 meters of separation can already be too much distance since you
then have to use a telephone„
Interviewee – Civil principal
 Separate roles. Organisations must represent one interest: this ensures that every
interest is equally accounted for in the process. People defending an interest may not
be the same people that lead a conversation or process.
 Build networks. Building and maintaining networks within the own organisation or
within other organisations was mentioned as crucial in order to be able to act between
rules and protocols.
 Find adequate people. A large number of respondents indicated that the involved
people make the difference in LCPs.
“20% of the people pull the trailer, 70% stands on it and 10% walks behind it. You have to be prepared to
fire those last 10%„
Interviewee - Contractor
 Apply perception-based management. The exchange of different perceived complexities
was mentioned as an important management tool in LCPs. The next paragraph (7.2)
will elaborate further on perception-based management.
It is therefore overall concluded that the balance described by literature between controlling
and connecting interventions was indeed found but greatly depends on the role-group.
Another notable observation was made within the found interventions: there seems to be a
cross application between controlling and connecting interventions. Connecting
interventions were sometimes used to gain control over the project and controlling
interventions were used to make connecting interventions possible.
Examples of controlling interventions making connecting interventions possible are the
actuating interventions applied by PDOs towards civil principals: by demanding a clear
assignment that leaves enough time and provides enough budget to execute the project the
connecting interventions towards the local stakeholders and contractors become possible.
These interventions often cost time and money and therefore this controlling approach is
necessary to enable the hands-off approach.
An example of a connecting intervention used to gain control has already been mentioned
in the previous chapter: the management of perceived complexities is necessary to prevent
them from becoming a problem in the project which means that this management aims to
gain control on the project.
FIGURE 7.2 CROSS-APPLICATION OF CONTROL AND HANDS-OFF APPROACH: CONTROLLING AND CONNECTING
INTERVENTIOS MAKING THE OTHER APPROACH POSSIBLE
This cross application is graphically visualized in figure 7.2 and seems to be complementing
the available literature: this literature (Thomas & Mengel, 2008; Hertogh & Westerveld,
2010; Koppenjan, et al., 2011; Davies & Mackenzie, 2013) acknowledges that a combined
approach is necessary to manage project complexity within LCPs but does not mention the
cross-application of the two types of approaches.
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During the internal validation with the project managers this cross-application was also
partly mentioned: the management of detailed complexity was in some occasions
considered to be a precondition to enable the management of dynamic complexity.
7.2.
Perceived complexities and perception-based management
This section will elaborate on the critical remarks made in chapter six, reflect on the two
models that were used to indicate ways of handling different perceived complexities and will
conclude with an assessment of interventions used to apply perception-based management.
7.2.1. Determining the origins of perceived complexities
Chapter six mentioned two critical remarks on the theory about sources of perceived
complexities: it was questioned whether the contextual variables indeed played a role in
establishing a perceived complexity and whether the interests of respondents really
determined a perceived complexity.
Contextual variables were found as a source for perceived complexities but this source was
partly contradicted by the answers given on the control-question. This question asked if the
top-3 TOE-elements were project-specific: the expected answer would be ‘yes’ (because
contextual variables differ within each project). A majority of the respondents however
answered ‘no’.
This could be explained with the help of hypothesis II (‘the selection of the TOE-elements is
influenced by experience of individuals’): experience seems to sometimes prevail over
contextual variables as contributor to the perceived complexity. Many respondents indicated
that they would not change their top-3 TOE-elements because they had seen these
elements in projects they had conducted in the past.
So, does this reject contextual variables as a source of perceived complexities? Davies and
Mackenzie (2013, p. 14) found in their research that “a number of contextual variables
shaped the programme and added to its complexity”. This theory strengthens the
conclusion that contextual variables do contribute to project complexity and therefore
automatically could contribute to perceived complexities. Besides, this contribution of
contextual variables was not fully rejected within the available data.
It is therefore concluded that both contextual variables and experience contribute to a
perceived complexity but they are not necessarily juxtaposed: experience sometimes seems
a more important determiner of a perceived complexity than the contextual variables.
The second critical remark applied to the interests as the source of perceived complexities:
again a control question partly falsified this hypothesis. A minority of the respondents that
were believed to have a role-based-interest did indicate that they would not change their
top-3 TOE-elements if they would have had another role within the project. The opposite
would however be expected if role-based-interests indeed contributed to a perceived
complexity.
It proved to be more difficult to explain this contradiction. Table 7.1 sums up the different
reasons why respondents have answered ‘no’ to the control question.
TABLE 7.1 MENTIONED REASONS WHY TOP-3 LISTS WERE NOT BASED ON THE ROLE OF RESPONDENTS
Respondent
Elucidation
Respondent 1
- No elucidation given Respondent 4
- No elucidation given Respondent 5
- No elucidation given Respondent 14
The mentioned top-3 TOE-elements were crucial for the project and would affect all
parties if they would went wrong
The mentioned top-3 TOE-elements were general for all LCPs
Respondent 15
Respondent 17
- No elucidation given Respondent 18
The mentioned top-3 TOE-elements were general for the project
- No elucidation given Respondent 21
Respondent 26
The top-3 TOE-elements were also seen within other projects
Respondent 27
The mentioned top-3 TOE-elements were general for the project
- No elucidation given Respondent 30
Little elucidations were given but the few that were given indicate that these respondents
dedicated their perceived complexity to either experience or impact on the project, which
correlate with hypothesis II and I. So the control-question does not directly reject the
interests of a practitioner as source but it sometimes seems to be a less dominant
contributor to perceived complexities then the experience of the respondent and the impact
of the component on project complexity. It must however be emphasized that the available
data to support this conclusion is very limited.
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It is overall concluded that hypothesis I, II, III and IV are all valid hypotheses in explaining
the origins of perceived complexities. However, it seems that there is a hierarchy in order:
experience and impact & control appear to be more determinative than the contextual
variables and interests of respondents.
This hierarchy does however not seem to be applicable to all respondents, which leads to
the conclusion that all four hypotheses are valid contributors to a perceived complexity but
the degree of contribution can vary for each individual.
7.2.2. Contributions of perception-based management to project performance
The previous chapter presented two encountered models to deal with project complexity:
steering on unanimity and steering on ambiguity.
The first model does acknowledge different perceived complexities and tries to unify these
different perceptions into one unanimous perceived complexity. This model assumes that
perceived complexities can be altered, but is this assumption legit to make?
This research showed that a perceived complexity is partly based on the impact of project
complexity and influence on that complexity. It also showed that differences occur due to
different levels of knowledge of individuals. These are all components which indeed can be
altered if they are managed.
This research however showed that perceived complexities also originate in the experience,
contextual variables, interests, roles and personal values of individuals. These are
components which cannot be altered by project management.
The model that steers to unanimity is therefore controversial since it assumes that
unanimity can be reached while this research showed that this cannot be the case due to
the partly unalterable sources of perceived complexities.
Both models were discussed during the expert meeting and the construction practitioners
agreed on the validity of the model that does not (try to) alter perceived complexities. They
however also did not fully reject the model which steers on a single perceived complexity:
practice rather uses a combination of both models.
It appeared that different situations require different models. If for example an actor has
the formal right to make a decision, it can decide to take different perceived complexities
into account and to use them (the ‘right’ model) but under the pressure of unilateral
decision-making (the ‘left’ model).
When practitioners however had to choose between the two models during the expert
meeting they nearly all chose the model which uses perceived complexities unanimous. This
research will therefore elaborate on the use of that model.
This model first brings different perceived complexities together in a mental model without
altering or modifying the different perceived complexities (the term mental model will be
explained later on but can for now be seen as a jointly formulated objective of the project).
This mental model is then used to diverge from and to use the different perceived
complexities. In this way the approach assumes positive effects of different perceived
complexities on project performance.
If the mental model is however not present, the different perceived complexities seem to
influence project performance in a negative way. In other words: either you manage
perceived complexities and they improve project performance or you fail to manage
perceived complexities and they thwart a good project performance.
Both the internal validation with the involved project managers and the expert meeting
confirmed and supported this model. Practitioners added the following elaborations on the
model:
 The model relates to time: every project starts at the bottom of the model and
proceeds upwards as the project progresses.
 The lower part of the model, the road towards a mental model, seems to relate with
project management while the upper part seems to relate with process management.
 Using (or converging) different perceived complexities refers to the actions of
practitioners which are based on the mental model: the actions must converge but the
ideas must stay equal.
 It takes a special kind of people to use this approach; practitioners must be able to
handle the degree of freedom since everyone is expected to translate the mental model
into actions for its own role.
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The project managers indicated that the correct application of the approach led to the
continuous understanding of the dynamic (i.e. changing) complexity of the project and that
different actors would take each others’ difficulties much more into account.
The described approach showed a remarkable resemblance with literature theories on
contemporary project management: these theories indicate that learning within the project
is the most important project management tool to deal with project complexity and that
this learning can be conducted with the help of project learning and a shared mental model.
An elaboration on these theories will be provided below.
Cicmil, et al. (2006) argue that project management needs to be viewed from a different
viewpoint by shifting from the normative rational approach to the developmental approach.
This means that project management should focus itself on the actuality of projects: this
approach is based on ‘project learning’ instead of the thinking-and-rational-approach.
Project management should be centred more around the question ‘what is going on in the
project?’.
Ahern, et al. (2013) clarify this by explaining that if complex projects are characterised by a
lack of prior-knowledge (i.e. that all knowledge needs to be created during the project), the
management of LCPs should focus on understanding and learning the project.
They use the theory of Cleden (2009) to explain this type of knowledge: there are knownknowns; known-unknowns (i.e. risks); unknown-knowns (i.e. untapped knowledge) and
unknown-unknowns (i.e. crises or wicked problems). The knowledge that must be created
within LCPs consists of the unknown-knowns.
This organisational learning has been described in more detail by Reyes (2012). He argues
that organisations can learn just as individuals by creating a shared mental model.
Individuals and organisations use these shared mental models to coordinate their actions
and to increase their own performance.
So what are shared mental models? A mental model indicates what individuals see as the
objective of a team performance and how these objectives should be reached (Arnold &
Silvester, 2005, p. 522). Arnold and Sylvester indicate three phases in forming a team:
forming, functioning and finishing. During the forming-phase the shared mental model has
to be made. This shared mental model structures different mental models of the team
members and also formulates a transitive memory: this is the process where all team
members find out who knows what in the team and what is known.
George and Jones (2008, p. 522) also describe the shared mental model as one of the five
key principles of organisational learning. Team members must use this shared mental
model to frame problems and opportunities: at the heart of this shared mental model lie a
set of work values and norms.
Perception-based management is believed to be an application of organisational learning
based on a shared mental model. It must thereby be emphasized that it is an application
and certainly not the only one: the principle of the shared mental model applies to a wide
variety of aspects in teamwork. Perceived complexities are only one of them. However, it is
an important one.
The theory that perception-based management is necessary within LCPs seems also to be
supported by Hertogh and Westerveld (2010): they mention the subjectivity within the
assessment of uncertainties within LCPs and also indicate that different perceptions are ‘the
reality of projects’. Both issues are addressed with perception-based management.
Examples of applications for perception-based management can furthermore be found
within literature. Kent and Becerik-Gerber (2010) researched the acceptance of Integrated
Project Delivery (IPD) within construction practice. They found that an early definition of
project goals were an important success factor for IPD: perception-based management can
help in formulating this common project goal.
Osipova and Eriksson (2013) argue that control and flexibility is necessary to apply Joint
Risk Management (JRM): this type of risk management focuses on risk management as the
collaboration between actors rather than the individual formal process. Perception-based
management can be an application of this flexible approach that makes JRM possible.
“We can soothe the environment because of our understanding of the complexity in the project„
Interviewee – local stakeholder
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
But is project learning the only contribution of perception-based management to project
performance? The data shows another important effect of perception-based management
within LCPs: the collaboration between parties seem to be improved significantly with the
application of perception-based management.
Several respondents mentioned the improved collaboration as the major reason to apply
perception-based management. Understanding other perceived complexities and the feeling
that the own perceived complexity is understood led to trust, goodwill and joy in the
project. These factors were all seen as important factors behind a good collaboration.
Evidence for this effect was especially found within case four: this case showed that
perception-based management led to improved collaboration between the actors. The
opposite was found in the first and second case, where different perceived complexities
could not be expressed and led to a tensed collaboration in which people felt close to
frustrated.
So the two contributions of perception-based management to the project performance are
project learning and the improvement of collaboration. These two contributions relate to the
earlier presented model of perception-based management: improvement of collaboration
applies to the first stage which is used to control perceived complexities, project learning to
the second stage which is used to exploit perceived complexities. This is visualised in figure
7.3.
FIGURE 7.3 CONTRIBUTIONS OF PERCEPTION-BASED MANAGEMENT TO PROJECT PERFORMANCE
These two contributions were both confirmed in the expert meeting. Practitioners
mentioned that different perceived complexities would become a problem if you left them
unhandled. They indicated that the correct use of the model prevents problems like group
thinking and a tunnel vision of a team: this relates to the process of project learning as
mentioned above. Perception-based management increases the ‘critical ability’ of a PDO:
this refers to the ability of a team to question and perform a critical review on their own
delivered products.
7.2.3. Interventions within perception-based management
Now that it is understood where perceived complexities origin from and what their
contributions are to project performance this section will argue how perception-based
management can be brought into practice.
This section will be split into three parts: preconditions necessary for perception-based
management, interventions that improve collaboration and interventions that improve
project learning.
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Preconditions necessary to apply perception-based management
Perception-based management seems to need preconditions in order to be effective.
Necessary preconditions were mentioned in the interviews and in the internal validation
session by project managers:
 A feeling of trust and a safe ambiance are necessary to share perceived complexities.
This means that there must be tolerance to make mistakes: mistakes must be seen as
a step closer to the final solution rather than failure.
 People must be able to separate facts and assumptions during conversations and must
be skilled in asking questions.
 PDOs must claim the necessary space with civil principals. Perception-based
management costs both time and budget and civil principals therefore often do not
provide the space necessary to conduct perception-based management. Claiming this
space is a rather difficult intervention according to the project managers: it seems that
project managers must have a service record that results in necessary credits: only
then it seems that civil principals are willing to provide space.
 The type of contract makes a difference: the alliance contract is especially classified to
deal with perceived complexities of the PDO and the contractor. The D&C contract
leaves little space for the exchange of perceived complexities because the contract
enables the contractor to design the project according to a contract without taking into
account any perceived complexity whatsoever.
Perception-based interventions that improve collaboration
Once preconditions have been established the first phase in perception-based management
is the creation of a shared mental model in order to control perceived complexities and
improve collaboration.
Different interventions mentioned in chapter six were grouped and this resulted in a list of
interventions that improve collaboration:
 Organise activities. The organisation of activities in which multiple parties engage was
frequently mentioned as an intervention. The project start-up (PSU) was emphasized
as important activity but a number of respondents also emphasized the need for a
frequent follow-up.
 Ask questions. A shared mental model means that individuals need to know what is
known within the PDO and therefore individuals have to ask questions. Respondents
emphasize the need of truly open questions that allow others to explain their perceived
complexity. An open question does not assume an answer within a question (e.g. “do
you agree that...?”) but provides space for the asked person to come with an own
answer (e.g. “what is your opinion on...?”).
The quest for the ‘question behind the question’ was also mentioned frequently and
refers to the process where people truly try to found out what the counterparts’
meaning of words really is: people often seem to disguise their true questions behind
other formulated questions.
“We have learned to validate the meaning of each others’ words„
Interviewee – PDO member
 Explain and listen. Although this intervention might sound trivial it was mentioned
surprisingly often by the respondents. Respondents designed different tools to explain
their perceived complexity which is often based on visual material supporting their
story. The process of perception-based management should be focussed on
understanding each others’ perceived complexities rather than agreement on project
complexity.
 Use interpreters. A couple of respondents indicated that they used interpreters in order
to transfer their perceived complexity. Often these interpreters were used to overcome
hierarchical barriers that prevented exchange of perceived complexities.
 Share factual knowledge. Chapter six showed that different levels of factual knowledge
lead to different perceived complexities but this can frustrate the involved
practitioners: the known knowns need to be exchanged transparent and open to lift all
respondents to the same level of factual knowledge.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The internal validation with the project managers also brought a couple of interventions
forward:
 Share expectations. PDO-members should exchange expectations about the final result
of the project. These interventions connect to the theoretical view that a shared mental
model should formulate the projects’ objectives. Value engineering was mentioned as a
tool to share these expectations.
 Use independent parties. Formulating a shared mental model is often difficult to do as
project manager or as PDO since these practitioners often need to defend an interest
themselves or are at least suspected of defending an interest. Using independent
parties to formulate a shared mental model prevents this (suspicion of a) biased
position. This intervention was also mentioned during the expert meeting.
 Share beliefs and interests. Sharing beliefs and interests rather than factual arguments
were mentioned as an important intervention to approach one another. This
intervention was also mentioned during the expert meeting.
This interventions fits in the proposition that perceived complexities are based on
interests but also to the iceberg model of McClelland (1973): this will be elaborated
further on in this chapter.
The expert meeting also provided some useful interventions to come to a shared mental
model:
 Formulate the DNA of a project. The shared mental model must be based on the DNA
or fixed culture of a project. It is determined and renegotiated during PSUs and followups but always based on this DNA: this is especially helpful when new practitioners
enter the project that need to be made familiar with the project. The follow-upactivities are the appropriate moments to make newcomers familiar with the projects’
DNA.
 Accept the confusion. Practitioners indicated that the road towards a shared mental
model can be quite confusion during the early phases of the project: people have no
solid point yet. This confusion is however a necessary step towards a shared mental
model and also provides the space and openness necessary to come to that shared
mental model.
 Show example behaviour. Project management needs practice what they preach: by
showing example behaviour towards other team members it is believed that the shared
mental model becomes possible.
Two interventions that were mentioned frequently will be elaborated further below: the
interventions related to the exchange of motives and the PSU.
The interventions related to the exchange of motives have been mentioned multiple times
by respondents. They reflect the importance of communication and the contents of this
communication must to be based on beliefs and interests of individuals. This is validated
with the iceberg model of McClelland (1973) (figure 7.4) that argues that the visible part of
human motives (being knowledge and skills) forms only 20% of the total motives of an
individual. The remaining 80% consists of social role, self-image, traits and motives which
cannot be seen on the surface but are much more determent in constructing motives of
individuals: attention should be focussed on these non-visible motives.
FIGURE 7.4 THE ICEBERG MODEL OF McCLELLAND (1973). FROM: EMERALDINSIGHT.COM
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The second frequently mentioned intervention was the PSU. The PSU has been mentioned
as important activity to exchange perceived complexities and is validated by the research of
Bosch-Rekveldt (2011) who indicates that front-end activities are important activities in
managing project complexity. Frequent follow-ups of this PSU have been mentioned as well
and connect to the theory that the shared mental model needs to be frequently calibrated
in order to remain effective. This results in a PSU with frequent follow-ups that are used to
reduce the differences within the shared mental model. This is graphically visualised in
figure 7.5.
FIGURE 7.5 SEQUENCE OF THE PSU WITH CORRESPONDING FOLLOW-UPS
These activities must however not be seen as team-building activities but as moments to
exchange perceived complexities. Team-building events may work counter effective since
these events might not produce the expected results: Arnold and Silvester (2005, p. 534)
clarify team building with four specific objectives of team building. These are: (1) the
respect for team members and their views; (2) the ability of team members to challenge
views and information; (3) the clarity of teams’ goals and (4) the allocation of work.
They mitigate the expectations of team building and indicate that the overall contribution of
team building activities is minimal. Team building seems to be the most effective when
teams are relatively small and team-building interventions are short.
So who needs to take responsibility for the application of the interventions? This thesis
regards perception-based management from the project-team’s perspective and it is the
opinion of this author that they should take the lead in managing perceived complexities
since they form the crucial link in the process of realizing LCPs. This is validated within the
theory of Davies and Mackenzie (2013) who define the systems integrator as the
responsible person for combining all systems within a meta-system. The integrator relies on
shared goals, formal contractual decisions and the cooperation between involved parties.
This integrator is however appointed by civil principals and they need to make a well
thought-over decision in this matter.
Perception-based interventions that improve project learning
When preconditions have been established and the shared mental model is created the
perceived complexities can be used in order to apply project learning.
The number of interventions mentioned during the interviews was relatively small and was
limited to two interventions:
 Provide space for other perceived complexities. Once the perceived complexity of
another is known it can and must be used within the project. The management
approach should be flexible and leave room to implement the consequences of other
perceived complexities.
 Impersonate others’ perceived complexities. Involved individuals must impersonate the
perceived complexities of others within their own organisations / followers. This
ensures that their perceived complexity is taken into account when internal decisions
are being made.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
The internal validation with the project managers resulted in three interventions to apply
project learning:
 Embrace conceptual thoughts. Construction practice seems to be focussed on detailed
designs and plans rather than conceptual thoughts. However, concepts are very much
suited for the exchange of ideas and information. If concepts are thought through and
take into account all available information, the detailed design seems to follow
automatically.
 Embrace discussions. Discussions are of vital importance to put the shared mental
model to work. Therefore discussions need to be encouraged and stimulated. If the
shared mental model is formulated correctly these discussions will not lead to friction
but to extra information which can be used in the project.
 Encourage individual responsibility. The individuals must be capable of translating the
shared mental model into actions. This requires responsible individuals who work
independent. People must feel free to question the shared mental model and initiate
the recalibration of this model: this means that people do not just follow bosses’ orders
but provide feedback.
The expert meeting resulted in multiple interventions that practitioners apply:
 Trust employees. Project management has to have trust in their employees and their
skills and knowledge: they must be able to speak freely with counterparts in other
parties without being controlled or restricted by project management. This requires
trust from the project team because the employees need to check for themselves if
certain communication is appropriate.
The earlier mentioned literature also provides different interventions that can be used to
apply project learning. These authors will be elaborated below.
The shared mental model is mentioned as the way to apply project learning but this shared
mental model is only one of the five principals in organisational learning (George & Jones,
2008). Other principals: (1) individuals need to develop personal mastery and (2) a
complex mental model that challenges individuals to learn, develop and experiment. At a
group level teams must be (3) able to use various kinds of groups to learn and (4) project
managers need to apply a systems thinking approach to manage organisational learning on
both an individual level as on a group level. The elaboration of these concepts extends
beyond this research.
Reyes (2012) argues that individuals apply double-loop-learning to learn in complex
projects (figure 7.6). Double-loop-learning reflects the consequences of actions not only to
the action-strategy but also to the mental model. The same goes for organisations:
members must be able to reflect on their shared mental model based on the consequences
for the project that were the result of certain actions.
FIGURE 7.6 MODEL OF DOUBLE-LOOP-LEARNING. FROM: Reyes (2012)
Ahern, et al. (2013) emphasize the importance of shared and common project objectives
and use the first landing on the moon as an example. This space journey could not be
planned on beforehand since nobody knew what was going to happen but all team
members had the exact same objective in their mind: to land on the moon.
They however disagree with double-loop-learning as the ideal way to deal with project
complexity since this type of learning is capable of dealing with double-loop problems but
not with complex problems. Double-loop problems are ‘known unknowns’ (i.e. risks): they
are knowable problems. Complex problems are ‘unknown knowns’ which means that there
is untapped knowledge available within complex problems.
This research however does not make a distinction between risks and complex problems
but sees risks rather as a sub-component in project complexity. It is therefore argued that
both applications (Reyes, 2012; Ahern, et al., 2013) are useful in perception-based
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
management. This means that different perceived complexities can be used to apply
double-loop learning and to discover the untapped knowledge within complex projects. This
untapped knowledge can be used to understand the project actuality within LCPs.
7.3.
Managerial implications of the research
The previous two paragraphs discussed the interventions dealing with project complexity
and the interventions dealing with different perceived complexities. This paragraph
indicates the implications for project management of LCPs. These managerial implications
apply to PDOs.
7.3.1. Managerial implications for dealing with project complexity
This research led to the formulation of four managerial consequences for PDOs that can
help them in managing project complexity within CPs.
1. Steer on a clear mandate from civil principals
PDOs that receive a clear and unambiguous assignment with enough space and flexibility to
execute the project seem to be more successful than the PDOs that do not receive this
assignment and freedom (determined on the judgement of project performance given for
each case in chapter five). Receiving this assignment and freedom is however very difficult
since decision-making between civil principals is a difficult process and these civil principals
apply rather controlling interventions instead of providing space and flexibility.
The sooner the PDO can settle down its relation with the civil principals the more room
there is for the other two important role-groups: local stakeholders and contractors. The
sooner the PDO can focus itself on these two groups the better LCPs seem to perform: time
is, together with enough budget and clear objectives, an important precondition to involve
other actors.
PDOs can steer on a clear assignment with the necessary freedom. By initiating actuating
interventions, the speed of the decision-making-process can be increased or decisions can
even be enforced. Creating ownership by inviting all relevant civil principals into one
consultation is an example of such an actuating intervention.
PDOs must not be reluctant to use strong controlling interventions at specific moments to
obtain this clear assignment: these interventions have a take-it-or-leave-it-character and
emphasize strongly that civil principals need to come to an agreement or that an
assignment is unworkable.
PDOs must also not be reluctant to provide feedback on the decisions of the civil principals:
if the available budget is for example too low or the projects’ objectives are too vague the
PDOs need to express this towards the civil principals.
The availability of enough time, budget and a clear assignment is referred to as a clear
mandate. Steering on this mandate takes skills of PDOs: the project manager seems to play
a vital role in this process. Civil principals seem to be more willing to provide this mandate
when the project manager has built enough credit: some form of service record can help in
receiving the necessary mandate. This credit is either based on previous successes of the
project manager or historical successes of the project.
The organisational form can also make a difference for this mandate. PDOs that are
organised in separate project bureaus which have the authority to hire independent people
are much more independent PDOs that are part of the same organisation as (some of the)
the civil principals.
2. Connect with the local stakeholders in the project
The connection of local stakeholders to the project should be preferred over controlling and
managing the local stakeholders. This requires a different approach from PDOs but can
result in a much better project performance.
Connecting to local stakeholders means that these local stakeholders must be seen as equal
partners in a relationship rather than a subordinated partner in a hierarchy. Communication
towards these external stakeholders must focus on transparency: being honest about risks,
uncertainties and progress results in a different attitude of local stakeholders. Professional
communication is the key in the successful involvement of the environment in the project.
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PDOs must also focus attention to the connection between the contractor and the local
stakeholders: these two role-groups are often directly interfaced in a project and good
communication between the two can be of vital importance for the projects’ performance.
Co-designing with local stakeholders uses the knowledge of these individuals and at the
same time promotes a collaborative attitude of local stakeholders. PDOs must provide space
for wishes and demands of local stakeholders, not only during the design phase of LCPs but
also during the execution phase. This space includes flexibility in planning and budgeting. A
profound example of such an intervention is switching the burden of proof: projects must
prove that damage to the environment is not caused by the project rather that the
environment needs to prove that damage is caused by the project.
PDOs must outsource the responsibility of defending the interests of the local stakeholders.
By splitting these roles the PDO can focus on the interest of the project and does not need
to balance the interests of the local stakeholders internally. This split includes the selection
of independent parties to resolve differences: these parties must be agreed upon by both
PDOs and local stakeholders.
3. Connect with the contractor but control if necessary
The connecting approach is often applied by PDOs towards contractors and this approach is
indeed preferred by contractors. PDOs often however tend to maintain this approach too
long which leads to decreased project performance: they must switch to the controlling
approach at the right time.
The connecting approach must already be shown during the tendering phase: the approach
can establish a strong basis for further collaboration if applied rightly. Physical on-sight
communication is preferred by both PDOs and contractors and the organisational structure
of the two parties need to be unambiguously clear to the other party: this helps
practitioners to find their counterparts within the other actor.
The connecting approach must be maintained as long as possible and even beyond the
point where it does not feel comfortable to the PDO anymore. However, if a contractor
keeps failing in meeting expectations and demands, the PDO has to be willing to engage the
contractor in a much more controlling approach.
This controlling approach must for example be applied if contractors do not behave as an
integral design leader between subcontractors or if they fail to connect to the local
stakeholders. PDOs must also become more aware of the fact that the contract with a
failing contractor can be terminated: the PDO must not feel ‘condemned’ to one specific
contractor.
PDOs on the other hand need to show themselves mature clients which know its
responsibilities. Recent developments, for example the rise of the PPS-contracts, have
shifted more responsibilities towards contractors: it would however be wise if PDOs do not
shift all their responsibilities towards contractors but stay responsible for certain project
components. An example is the responsibility to connect to the local stakeholders: although
the contractor needs to apply this as well, the PDO must remain responsible for this
component.
Another important precondition is the unambiguity of the (integrated) contract: contractual
criteria have to be crystal clear and frame the appropriate and desired design flexibility.
Ambiguous criteria lead to different interpretations on what the assignment truly is: a clear
assignment is also in this relationship crucial to manage complexity (just as in the
relationship between PDOs and civil principals).
4. Apply perception-based management
Different perceived complexities should be embraced and exploited by PDOs. The next
paragraph will elaborate specifically on the managerial consequences of perception-based
management.
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7.3.2. Dealing with project complexity: perception-based management
Perception-based management can be applied in order to gain control on the project
because it improves collaboration and it can be applied to improve project performance
because it generates knowledge.
The following will sum up three managerial implications that together enable perceptionbased management.
1. Create the appropriate preconditions
Perception-based management requires five preconditions in order to be effective. The most
important is the awareness of all involved individuals on the fact that differences in
perceived complexities exist and that these differences can be potentially beneficial to
project performance.
The right ambiance is the second important precondition. A safe environment is necessary
in order to let people be honest and make them willing to share their perceived complexity.
Third, perception-based management requires a mandate from civil principals: civil
principals need to become aware of the benefits on perception-based management so that
they allow time and budget for perception-based management rather than focussing on
short-term progress. This mandate is a sub-part of the mandate mentioned in the previous
section.
Fourth, the right kind of people needs to participate in perception-based management.
These people need to be able to apply the consequences of perception-based management
independently and without the need for detailed instructions: they must be able to work
independently. They also have to be willing to listen to others’ perceived complexities and
be willing to act upon those differences.
People that do not fit in this picture are likely to leave the project by themselves since they
feel uncomfortable in the open and uncertain environment. If not than parties have to be
willing to fire people from the project.
The last precondition is the advised use of contract types. Integrated contracts, especially
D&C contracts, lead inherently to less possibilities to apply perception-based management
and make it thereby more difficult. Traditional contracts and alliances are more suitable to
apply perception-based management.
The selection of a contract type should however of course not be made dependent on the
ability to perform perception-based management within that contract. It is therefore
advised that PDOs take difficulties of integrated contracts for the application of perceptionbased management into account and prepare themselves for these difficulties: contractors
should in that case be made much more aware of the necessity and tools to apply
perception-based management.
2. Create a shared mental model
Creating a shared mental model is the first step in perception-based management. A shared
mental model should contain a definition of the projects’ objectives and a set of general
norms and values which express the norms and values lived by the project and its involved
practitioners: this requires example behaviour of key-individuals.
Project-start-ups allow involved practitioners to build a shared mental model. It is advisable
to use professional and independent communicators to facilitate this creation: unbiased
individuals are preferred over biased individuals as process leaders. The frequent follow-up
of this PSU is necessary to recalibrate the shared mental model and make new people
familiar with the DNA of the project.
Conversations must further more steer on personal values and motives of individuals rather
than factual knowledge and skills. This focus can be carried out by asking the questions
behind the questions and open questions. The initial state of confusion in a team must be
accepted and used to create open minds to enable perception-based management.
3. Focus on project learning
The shared mental model must be applied by the individuals within their own roles. In this
way the shared mental model leads to actions based on this model. Project learning can
then be established in two ways: different perceived complexities can be used to enrich
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available and tacit knowledge (e.g. in BIM or JRM) and they can be used to question the
shared mental model.
By questioning the shared mental model (i.e. double-loop learning) the individuals indicate
that the jointly constructed image is not applicable anymore and therefore the actions of
the individuals (based on the shared mental model) may not result in the desired effects.
By reshaping the shared mental model the project management approach adepts itself to
the changed complexity within the project.
It is therefore important that individuals feel free to question the shared mental model.
Discussions must be embraced and there must be room to make mistakes: mistakes can
lead to a good recalibration of the shared mental model which prevents the mistake from
being made again. It is therefore necessary that individuals are not punished for mistakes.
The recalibration of shared mental models must also be forced by organising follow-ups on
the initial PSU. These follow-up ‘check’ if all projects’ objectives, norms and values are still
applicable in the current situation.
7.4.
Limitations of this research
The research has shown its limitations. This paragraph points out three important
limitations of this research.
The first and most important limitation is the explorative nature of the research and
therefore the inadequateness of the collected data. The conclusions of this thesis must
therefore be seen as points of references: perception-based management seems to be a
meaningful addition to the project management of LCPs and the research provided enough
evidence to assume a positive relation between perception-based management and project
performance but it is too early for a sound conclusion: this would require more research.
Second the representativeness of the participated projects for the Dutch construction sector
can be questioned. All participating projects were members of the KING/RPA network and
were therefore above average informed about project management research and concepts.
This might have resulted in a too positive image on awareness and opinions of different
perceived complexities: respondents were likely to be familiar with these concepts before
the research started. This even goes for the expert meeting: all participants were member
of the KING/RPA network.
The third critical remark is the lack of knowledge on strategic behaviour of the respondents:
there might be strategic considerations for individuals to share or not share their perceived
complexity with others. This research assumed a lack of strategic behaviour but there were
minor indications that this concept played a role within perception-based management.
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8. Conclusions and further research
This thesis explained perceived complexities within LCPs and explored the implications of
different perceived complexities on project performance and project management.
The main research question was defined as followed:
How do different perceived complexities impact project performance of LCPs and what are the
implications for the project management of LCPs?
This conclusion will answer this main question and recommend directions for future
research.
8.1.
Conclusions
This conclusion will combine all sub-conclusions mentioned at the end of each chapter. It
will go through the content step-by-step.
Definition of project complexity
Project complexity is described extensively in literature and it acknowledges two types of
complexities: detail complexity, which refers to the many components of a project that
interrelate, and dynamic complexity, which refers to the unexpected consequences of these
interrelations. The definitions of the two types are theoretical and high-level which does not
make them very applicable to use in practice.
The operationalisation of this theoretical definition was only recently done by, among
others, Bosch-Rekveldt (2011) who designed the TOE-framework to assess project
complexity within construction projects.
This assessment, together with the in-depth interviews, showed that practitioners’
definitions of project complexity differ in a high degree from the theoretical definitions of
project complexity: definitions of practitioners are much more typified by the degree of
influence that a practitioner has on the project complexity and the approach of this project
complexity, being either problem focussed or challenge-focussed.
Different perceived complexities were described with the help of a designed lens model
(based on a Brunswik Lens Model). The lens model seems to be a useful addition to the
TOE-framework because it helps to better understand the assessment of the TOE-elements
within the framework. This lens model was used to explain the origins of perceived
complexities.
Origins of perceived complexities
The lens model showed that a perceived complexity is based on the selection of certain
elements of the environment followed by a judgement on these elements. The TOEelements were seen as environmental elements which were selected by respondents and
then judged.
Selection of the top-3 TOE-elements seemed to be based on the following three
parameters:
1. The (perceived) impact of a certain project-element on project performance and the
degree of influence practitioners have on this element.
2. The experience of practitioners within other LCPs.
3. The contextual variables of a project.
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Judgement of the top-3 TOE-elements seems to be based on the following parameter:
1. The interests of the practitioners within the project. These interests are drive by the
role and/or the personal values of the practitioner.
These four sources do not all contribute in the same degree to each perceived complexity:
some practitioners based their perceived complexity much more on a certain source then
others.
Some practitioners based their perceived complexity for example on their experience while
others based their perceived complexity more on the contextual variables of the project.
This research found indications that the sources perceived impact and experience were
stronger indicators for a perceived complexity than the other two mentioned sources.
The use of the lens model within the TOE-framework and the determination of the four
different origins of perceived complexities contributed to the knowledge field of
management sciences which is operationalising the definition of project complexity so that
it can be applied in construction practice. It also contributed to the knowledge field of
management sciences which is looking for interventions to deal with project complexity.
Interventions dealing with project complexities
Literature identifies two types of approaches towards project complexity:
approach and the hands-off-approach. It is argued that successful project
combines both approaches.
Literature identifies three type of interventions within these two approaches
2013): controlling interventions (aimed to control the project), connecting
(aimed to connect people and ideas) and actuating interventions (aimed to
towards actions or decisions).
the controlmanagement
(Best, et al.,
interventions
move people
The research identified four general specific preconditions to deal with project complexity:
(1) physical interaction is the preferred way of communication; (2) roles must be split as
much as possible within and between organisations; (3) informal networks must be created
to act between rules and protocol; (4) the right kind of people need to be involved.
Perception-based management was mentioned as important part in managing project
complexity and is argued as the fifth important intervention to deal with project complexity.
Insights were furthermore provided by splitting the different interventions over four
different roles of practitioners: the PDO, the civil principals, local stakeholders and the
contractor. Not only did the research identify interventions which the four roles applied to
manage complexity but it also identified interventions that were used to manage the
collaboration between the four role-groups. The following list sums up the most important
observations for PDOs that collaborated with the three other role groups:
 PDOs want flexibility and room to manoeuvre and therefore try to receive a clear
assignment and mandate from civil principals. Civil principals however often apply
controlling interventions: these interventions increase project complexity.
 Local stakeholders want to take part in the project and wish to be engaged with
connecting interventions. PDOs however often still apply controlling interventions
towards these stakeholders.
 Contractors need to be engaged with a balanced mix of connecting and controlling
interventions.
It was also shown that the control-approach was sometimes enabled by applying
connecting interventions and that the hands-off-approach was enabled by applying
controlling interventions. This cross-application of intervention-types seems to be an
addition to the current literature that argues the balanced management of the two
approaches as a way to manage complexity.
Once the research understood perceived complexities and identified interventions dealing
with complexity it focussed on the influence of perceived complexities on these
interventions.
Perceived complexities and interventions dealing with project complexity
The research found enough evidence to confirm a link between interventions dealing with
project complexity and perceived complexities. It remained however unclear what the
cause-effect relation between the two is: either the presence of interventions leads to a
certain perceived complexity or a perceived complexity leads to certain interventions.
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It was also found that practitioners who perceive project complexity as a problem and have
little influence on that project complexity might apply more controlling and actuating
interventions than others. This is also a topic for further research.
After the influence of perceived complexities on interventions the influence of perceived
complexities on project performance was researched. It was found that perceived
complexities influence project performance directly and they might also influence project
performance indirectly.
Perceived complexities and project performance
Different perceived complexities directly influence project performance: they thwart project
performance if they remain unmanaged but they improve project performance if they are
managed and used.
The direct influence of perceived complexities on project performance is assumed to be
positive under the condition that differences in perceived complexities are exploited.
Perception-based management enables PDOs to improve the collaboration with involved
actors and to learn the unpredictable dynamic complexity of the project. It first brings all
involved individual practitioners to a shared mental model which practitioners then apply to
their action strategy and actions. Recalibration of this model enables project learning.
Figure 8.1 shows this process graphically.
FIGURE 8.1 CONTRIBUTIONS OF PERCEPTION-BASED MANAGEMENT TO PROJECT PERFORMANCE
The indirect influence of perceived complexities on project performance would be via
interventions dealing with project complexity. The consequences for performance remain
however unclear: if different perceived complexities lead to certain interventions the
perceived complexities influence project performance indirectly. If they are influenced by
the interventions then they do not influence project performance indirectly.
This is shown graphically in figure 8.2.
FIGURE 8.2 RELATIONS BETWEEN PERCEIVED COMPLEXITIES AND PROJECT PERFORMANCE
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Application of perception-based management
Perception-based management leads to an improved collaboration between different
practitioners and stimulates project learning within LCPs. The research identified three
important steps in perception-based management: (1) PDOs must create the appropriate
preconditions necessary to apply PBM; (2) PDOs must steer on the creation of a shared
mental model and (3) the process of project learning needs to be brought to the core of
project management.
The applications of PBM were validated within literature and thereby embedded in the
current knowledge within management sciences.
8.2.
Recommendations for further research
This research was mostly exploratory in its nature and therefore the number of unanswered
questions is higher than before the research commenced.
This section indicates three directions for further research which followed from this
research. It explains the research direction and concludes with a possible research question
and hypothesis: these questions and hypotheses are the end-points of this research and the
final contribution of this thesis to management sciences.
8.2.1. Research direction one: relation between perception-based management and project
performance
The first direction focuses on the possible positive relation between project performance
and perception-based management. It would require a systematic and, if possible,
quantitative approach to judge project performance and a description of the detailed
contents of perception-based management. By linking these two concepts and performing a
case study research it can be found if there is a significant positive contribution of
perception-based management to project performance.
The detailed description of perception-based management should also focus on the correct
application of the two models designed in this research: when should which model be used
in project management?
It should also be understood how strategic behaviour might be used by participating
individuals and how this strategic behaviour impacts perception-based management.
Finally the description of perception-based management should especially focus on the
phenomenon of project learning: how can project learning within perception-based
management be optimally exploited?
Possible research question: what are the effective conditions for perception-based management
to contribute positively to the performance of projects?
Hypothesis: perception-based management contributes positively to projects’ performance.
Operational advices that can be used in the design of this research:
 A case study design is advised for this research. Construction projects should be
selected on the degree to which they perform perception-based management: great
contrasts are desired. To determine roughly if a project applies perception-based
management the project manager can be asked if that person (1) acknowledges
perceived complexities and (2) if that person eliminates, controls or exploits these
perceived complexities.
 The step then is to provide a more detailed design of the models for perception-based
management (figure 8.1). This helps to label the projects as ignoring, eliminating,
controlling or exploiting and the detailed models must be used to answer the question
to which extent the projects do so. For example: if a project is labelled as a project
which exploits perceived complexities, it should be determined to which extent they
exploit the different perceived complexities on a pre-designed scale.
 Use an existing method to assess project performance of projects. This assessment
should be used to rank projects relatively to each other.
 The relation between perception-based management and project performance can now
be determined: by statistically connecting the scale of perception-based management
with the scale of project performance it can be determined if there is a significant
relation between the both concepts.
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8.2.2. Research direction two: origins of perceived complexities and its effects on interventions
dealing with project complexity
The second direction is within the description of perceived complexities and its origins. This
research showed that there are at least four different sources contributing to perceived
complexities but it is unknown which sources contribute in which degree to a certain
perceived complexity. There were minor indications found that the contribution of a source
to a perceived complexity is determined by the role of practitioners.
A lens model was used to describe the perceived complexities but the use of this model can
be extended to a mathematical degree in which it becomes statistically clear why certain
TOE-elements are chosen as cues and what the correlation is between this selection and
certain characteristics of practitioners.
A detailed direction of research could also be the exploration of specific contextual variables
influencing perceived complexities: indications for six contextual variables were found but
insights into which contextual variable leads to which perceived complexity can benefit the
research on perceived complexities.
An important part of this research should be the relation between perceived complexities
and interventions. This research showed that there is some kind of relation but much
remains unclear: what are causes and what effects in this cause-effect relationship?
The research furthermore found evidence for the statement found in literature that project
complexity can be influenced with the help of interventions. This influence could be part of
this research direction.
Possible research question: what are the origins of perceived complexities from construction
practitioners?
Hypothesis: experience and perceived impact are more important contributors to a perceived
complexity than interests and the contextual variables. The degree of contribution of these
sources depends on the role of the practitioner.
Operational advices that can be used in the design of this research:
 The use of individual practitioners as units of analysis is advised for this research. Since
it is believed that there is a relation between the role of practitioners and the
contribution of certain sources, practitioners need to be selected based on role. By
comparing practitioners with the same identified role within different projects this
research can give a judgement on the influence of the role of practitioners on perceived
complexities.
 Design a research which enables the statistical possibilities of the Brunswik Lens Model:
the lens model can be used to statistically determine how much a certain source
contributes to either the selection or to the judgement of cues of project complexity.
 Use the TOE-framework as the cues within this lens model. The constructed lens
models in this research have shown that they provide useful grips to practitioners to
describe project complexity. They must be treated as the individual variables which are
set by the researcher.
8.2.3. Research direction three: management approaches dealing with project complexity
The third direction for future research is the management of project complexity. The
research found evidence for the cross-application of interventions within the controlapproach and the hands-off-approach. Mentions about this cross-application were not found
within the researched literature and further research could improve the project
management of project complexity.
The research also found evidence that there is a relation between perceived complexities
and applied interventions to deal with project complexity. Further research should focus on
the details of this relation. The author of this research believes that perceived complexities
influence the applied interventions (bases on the interviews) and therefore suggests this
statement as hypothesis for further research.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Possible research question: how can practitioners best deal with project complexity?
Hypothesis: the control-approach can be enabled with connecting interventions, the hands-offapproach with controlling interventions.
Hypothesis: a perceived complexity influences and determines applied interventions dealing
with project complexity
Operational advices that can be used in the design of this research:
 The units of analysis for this research could be projects that are already completed. Indepth interviews can be used to determine how complexity was managed (i.e. what
were the applied interventions to deal with complexity) and what the effects of these
interventions were according to the interviewees. If necessary, interviewees could be
confronted with identified interventions from this research in order to stimulate
answers without biasing them.
 These cause-effect-insights can then be analysed to see if controlling and connecting
interventions were indeed used to make the ‘other’ approach possible and if these
interventions were successful.
 Once perceived complexities are better understood (direction two, §8.2.2), research
can categorise perceived complexity in a more meaningful way than this research and
link the perceived complexities of practitioners to mentioned interventions by these
practitioners. The framework of Best (2013) seems suitable for this comparison.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Appendix A. Interview design
Interview project complexiteit. Interviewer: Bram Kool
Algemene instructies
 Creëer de juiste sfeer voorafgaand aan de introductie
 Verschaf definities waar nodig
 Vermijd complexe zinsconstructies
 Vermijd het geven van een eigen mening
 Vermijd serievragen en parallelvragen
 Neem de rol van de verwonderde student in: wees niet bang om naïeve vragen te
stellen en vraag vanuit nieuwsgierigheid
 Lever antwoordinstructies
 Lever gevoelsreflectie
Top-3 thema’s van geïnterviewde:
[Hier wordt de top-3 van de respondent ingevuld]
Top-3 elementen binnen het eerste thema:
[Hier wordt de top-3 van de respondent ingevuld]
Introductie van interview (5 minuten)
 Doel van het interview: inzichten krijgen in de motivaties en drijvers achter de
antwoorden uit de enquête over project complexiteit (1); om informatie te krijgen over
de omgang met complexiteit (2).
 Dat onderzoek wordt uitgevoerd door KING, RWS RPA en de TU Delft.
 De geselecteerde projecten zijn gekozen op basis van de grote differentiatie in
antwoorden en type projecten.
 De geluidsopname dient voor mij om terug te luisteren zodat uw waardevolle
antwoorden niet verloren gaan. Alleen ik heb toegang tot de geluidsbanden. Na
transcriptie worden deze vernietigd.
 Rapportage vindt plaats middels een rapport met algemene conclusies en per project
een deelrapport wat ook aan alle betrokkenen van het project wordt overhandigd.
 Het kan zijn dat de project manager dat deelrapport gaat gebruiken om management
te verfijnen, maar dat is volledig afhankelijk van de project manager.
 Dit rapport doet geen specifieke aanbevelingen per project, maar alleen een
deelrapportage van waargenomen feiten per project.
 De informatie die ik graag van u ontvang gaat ten eerste over uw achtergrond en blik
op complexiteit binnen bouwprojecten en daarnaast op de management van project
complexiteit in dit project.
 Dit duurt ongeveer 1 uur.
 Uw gegevens worden vertrouwelijk behandeld en komen anoniem terug in de algemene
rapportage van het onderzoek.
 Vandaag zou ik enorm geholpen zijn wanneer u antwoord kunt geven op de vragen die
ik u stel. Ik zal de tijd in de gaten houden en met u de vragenlijst doorlopen.
 Dit was de introductie, na eventuele vragen vanuit u ga ik nu graag over tot het
afwerken van de vragenlijst.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Fase 1: persoonlijke, professionele feiten (10 minuten)
Allereerst zou ik u om wat feiten willen vragen over uzelf. Deze gegevens worden gebruikt
om eventuele verbanden aan te tonen binnen de resultaten en komen niet persoonlijk
herkenbaar terug in het algemene onderzoek.
Vragen
Doel
Vraag 1 alleen stellen mocht de rol van de
geïnterviewde niet helemaal duidelijk worden uit de
enquête
1. Wat is uw rol binnen het huidige project?
Antwoorden 1, 2, en 3 moeten
relevante feiten opleveren op de
drie thema’s die zij
representeren
2. Wat zijn uw opleidingen en professionele
werkervaring?
3. Wiens belangen vertegenwoordigt u in dit project?
Hoe kenmerken die zich?
Fase 2: vragen over complexiteit en management (30 minuten)
Dan gaan we nu verder met de volgende set vragen: de vragen over project complexiteit
naar aanleiding van de enquête die u hebt ingevuld. Deze vragen zijn bedoeld als
verdieping op de antwoorden die wij hebben ontvangen
Vragen
1. Uit de enquête blijkt dat u thema X (T, O of E) als het
meest complexe thema waardeerde met daarbinnen de
elementen X, X en X als top-3 bijdragers aan
complexiteit.
1a. Kloppen deze gegevens nog steeds met uw huidige
visie en beeld?
1b. Heeft u voorbeelden van concrete situaties waarin
deze elementen zich toonden?
Alleen voor Project Managers:
1c. Hoe bent u omgegaan met deze elementen binnen
het project? Graag interventies met specifieke en
concrete gebeurtenissen die dit illustreren. In welke
fase van het project is dit gebeurd? Wie waren daarbij
betrokken? Wat waren de effecten?
Doel
Antwoord 1 dient de enquête
resultaten te valideren en 1, 2 of
3 concrete situaties te
beschrijven die door de rest van
het interview gebruikt zullen
worden.
Vraag 1b en 1c dienen
gecombineerd per element
gesteld te worden
Antwoord 1c dient een lijst op te
leveren met links gebruikte
interventies, in het midden de
fase waarin de techniek gebruikt
is en rechts een voorbeeld van
het gebruik.Trapgewijs stellen
Voor de niet-Project-Managers:
1d. Hoe hebt u zelf, binnen uw huidige rol, uw eigen
top-3 elementen bijdragend aan complexiteit
gemanaged? Graag interventies met specifieke en
concrete gebeurtenissen die dit illustreren.
1e. Hoe zijn de elementen [TOP-3 VAN PROJECT
MANAGER] aangepakt binnen het project volgens uw
inzicht? Graag interventies met specifieke en concrete
gebeurtenissen waarin dit gebruikt had kunnen
worden.
Let op: er dient een reflectie plaats te vinden op het
handelen van de PM aangaande de drie elementen.
Voor iedereen
1f. Is deze top-3 project specifiek?
Zo ja: waarom? In welk project (waar u hebt
gewerkt) dan bijvoorbeeld? Welke specifieke situatie
vond u toen wel/niet complex die nu anders is?
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Antwoorden 1f en 1g dienen een
vergelijking te trekken tussen
andere projecten en rollen om
de motivatie voor de huidige
top- 3 aan te scherpen.
1g. Is deze top-3 rol-specifiek?
Zo ja: waarom? In welke rol (die u eerder hebt
gehad) dan bijvoorbeeld? Welke specifieke situatie
vond u toen wel/niet complex die nu anders is?
Alleen voor Project Managers:
2. Waarom komen nu juist deze 3 elementen uit de lijst
van 50 bij u zo sterk naar voren?
2a. Welke situaties, gebeurtenissen en/of
omstandigheden hebben er concreet aan bijgedragen
dat u deze 3 elementen hebt genoemd?
Let op: niet op zoek naar uitingen van de top-3, zoals
bij 1, maar naar bronnen van de top-3
Alleen voor de niet-Project Managers:
2b. De Project Manager noemde elementen X, X en X
als top-3, u hebt deze elementen juist laag / ook hoog
gescoord (*voeg hier beschrijving toe van de
overeenkomsten en verschillen van top-3 manager en
top-3 geïnterviewde*). Waarom?
Antwoord 2 dient een duidelijke
inhoudelijke motivatie te geven
voor de genoemde 3 elementen
en enkele bronnen te benoemen
voor de perceptie.
Antwoord 2 dient een duidelijke
oorzaak aan te wijzen van de
verschillende scores op hetzelfde
element
Fase 3: vragen over perceptie verschillen (20 minuten)
Dit was de tweede fase van het interview. Dank u wel. De volgende set vragen zal gaan
over verschillende percepties aangaande complexiteit zoals we die in fase 1 hebben
waargenomen.
3. Was u zich voorafgaand aan dit onderzoek er zich van
bewust dat er perceptieverschillen bestaan over
complexiteit?
Zo ja: Wat betekent dit voor u en uw werk?
3a. Hebt u een voorbeeld van een concrete situatie
waarin die verschillen tot uiting kwamen?
Alleen voor Project Managers:
3b. Hoe bent u omgegaan met verschillende
percepties aangaande complexiteit? Graag
interventies met specifieke en concrete
gebeurtenissen die dit illustreren. In welke fase van
het project is dit gebeurd? Wat waren de effecten?
Antwoord 3 moet aantonen of
mensen zich bewust zijn van
perceptieverschillen en van
situaties waarin die verschillen
optraden en wat mensen toen
deden.
Antwoord 3b dient een lijst op te
leveren met links gebruikte
interventies, in het midden de
fase waarin de techniek gebruikt
is en rechts een voorbeeld
waarin het daadwerkelijk
gebruikt is.
Voor de niet-Project-Managers:
3c. Hoe zijn de verschillende percepties gemanaged in
het project naar uw inzicht?
Let op: er dient een reflectie plaats te vinden op het
handelen van de PM aangaande de drie elementen.
3d. Bent u bewust bezig met perceptieverschillen in uw
doen en laten binnen het project?
Zo ja: heeft u hier een voorbeeld / concrete situatie
van.
Voor iedereen:
3e. Hoe speelden perceptieverschillen een rol in de 3
voorbeelden die u gaf bij vraag 1?
3f. Bent u op dit moment op de hoogte van de
percepties van andere actoren in het project team
over complexiteit?
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Niet alle vragen (3e t/m 3g)
hoeven gesteld te worden; ze
staan hier vermeld om het
gesprek op gang te houden
mocht dat nodig zijn.
Zo ja: hoe bent u hiervan op de hoogte geraakt?
Wat voor acties hebben u of anderen daarvoor
ondernomen?
3g. Denkt u dat het belangrijk is dat iedereen zich in
het team bewust is van perceptieverschillen?
Zo ja: Waarom? Hoe zou u omgaan met die
perceptieverschillen?
Antwoord 3d vereist doorvragen.
Het antwoord is altijd Ja, maar
geldt dit nog steeds als dit
bijvoorbeeld betekent dat men 3
weken inruimt voor dit proces?
We zijn bijna aan het einde gekomen van het interview. Mij rest nog één laatste vraag:
1. Is er een vraag die u wel had verwacht maar die dit interview niet is gesteld?
2. Alleen voor Project Managers: mag ik eventueel in een later stadium nog een afspraak
met u maken?
Afsluiting
Dat was de vragenlijst en daarmee het einde van het interview. Ik wil u vriendelijk
bedanken voor uw bruikbare antwoorden. Nogmaals: dit gaat verwerkt worden in een
algemene studie en een individueel case rapport, de laatste zal waarschijnlijk eind augustus
opgeleverd worden.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Appendix B. Descriptions perceived complexities
This appendix displays the different perceived complexities of all respondents described
with the help of the constructed lens model. It also sees if the role, education and interests
of the respondent could be logically connected to this perceived complexity. The final
section for each respondent describes the reaction of the respondent to the difference
between the project manager and the respondent.
The description for respondent 22 could not be made, since this respondent did not indicate
top-3 TOE-elements in the survey.
1.1.
Analysis respondent 1
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B1.
FIGURE B1 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
Both cues are based on challenges that the respondent is experiencing within its own
project team. They are both judged as negative contributors to the project result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent is the one of project manager, which makes the chosen cues
especially applicable to the role of the respondent. It can therefore be stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests that the respondent represents are those of the municipality. At the same
time the respondent indicates that these interests conflict with the interests of other
municipal organizations. It is a task of the respondent to integrate these interests into one
plan. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the
respondent. A summary of this is given in table B2
TABLE B2 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO THE
ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Connected to
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
interests
Respondent 1
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Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.2.
Analysis respondent 2
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B3.
FIGURE B3 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first two cues seem to be related to each other: the lack of tendering is exposed due to
the choice to work with a D&C contract. The first cue leads to a negative project result, the
second to a positive project result. The third cue seems to be a result of the first two cues
and the last two cues are not project specific.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent is the one of civil client on behalf of the municipality. All five
cues can be related to this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interest that the respondent indicated to embody is the interest of the society and of
politics. The interest of the society is served with a good quality project which the
respondent thinks to achieve by a certain tendering process. All original (selected in the
survey) cues refer to this tendering process, the ineffective decision making however does
not. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the stakes
of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B4.
TABLE B4 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO THE
ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Connected to
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
interests
Respondent 2
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Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Reflection on the differences with the project manager
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager, but does not
share the perceptual judgements of the project manager. According to the respondent this
elements should not be allowed to contribute to project complexity since they are elements
that should and can be dealt with.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.3.
Analysis respondent 3
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B5.
FIGURE B5 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All cues are eventually judged as negative contributors to the project result. The second cue
appears to be another cue which was also available in the survey.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was limited to the technical interface of the project with another
project. None of the cues refer to an aspect which is directly related to the role of the
respondent (the interfaces between contracts is replaced by a cue on the large number of
involved parties). It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was minimally
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests of the organization of the respondent are based on the project which
interfaces with the project of the case. In this interfacing project, the ultimate goal is to
deliver on-time. This is reflected within all cues of the respondent, which are all judged as
some form of time delay. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected
to the stakes of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B6.
TABLE B6 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO THE
ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE MEANS
MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 3
No
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager and realizes
that his judgement on those cues might not have been correct. This is due to the fact that
the respondent did not look at the problems from a project managers’ perspective.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.4.
Analysis respondent 4
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B7.
FIGURE B7 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All the selected cues, which are originally external, are transformed into organizational
challenges. All these challenges are judged as negative contributors to the project result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was limited to the technical design of the project. None of the
cues refer to an aspect which is directly related to the role of the respondent. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests of the respondents’ own organization conflict with the interest of the project,
according to the respondent. This is in line with the statement that the complexity is
created due to a fragmented municipal administration. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A summary of this is
given in table B8.
TABLE B8 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO THE
ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 4
No
Reflection on the difference with the PM
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager, but does not
share the perceptual judgements of the project manager. According to the respondent this
elements should not be allowed to contribute to project complexity since they are elements
that should and can be dealt with.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.5.
Analysis respondent 5
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B9.
FIGURE B9 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT
THE CUE WAS NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All selected cues are transformed and judged as negative contributors to the project result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent is the one of subsidy provider on behalf of the municipality. The
first cue seems to relate to this role, since it addresses the issue of financing. All other cues
do not seem to affect the role of the respondent directly. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was partly connected to the role of the respondent.
The educational background of the respondent is urban planning. Since none of the cues
refer to the urban planning process, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally
connected to the education of the respondent.
The interest that the respondent indicated to embody is the interest of traveller. It is in the
interest of the traveller that the project finishes on time (due to the connection with the
metro line). Since all cues of the respondent are eventually judged as time issues, it is
stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A
summary of this is given in table B10.
TABLE B10 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 5
No
Reflection on the differences with the project manager
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager, but does not
share the perceptual judgements of the project manager since these cues cannot be judged
by the respondent (because the respondent has no access to the information necessary to
judge the cues).
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.6.
Analysis respondent 6
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B11.
FIGURE B11 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first cue is transformed into another cue which could have also been selected in the
survey. All cues result in a judgement which contributes negatively to the project.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was focussed on the technical design of the project. Some of the
selected cues refer to this role (number of contracts and time pressure), others do not
(discontinuity in staffing). It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was partly
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the municipality and
the organization within the municipality responsible for the execution of the project. It is in
the interest of the municipality to deliver the project on time (in order not to interfere with
the other project’s schedule) and that the interfaces are well managed (in order to ensure a
smooth connection between bus station and metro line). It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A summary of this is
given in table B12.
TABLE B12 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 6
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager but only after
they were mentioned by the interviewer. The judgement of the project manager on these
cues is also recognized and agreed upon by the respondent.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.7.
Analysis respondent 7
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B13.
FIGURE B13 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first three cues refer to situations that are not judged as complex anymore by the
respondent, since these cues are not the responsibility of the respondent anymore.
Complexity for the respondent now lies in disagreement between the project team and the
contractor, caused by the contract and the contact. The cues result in a negative situation
for the project.
Noteworthy are the two objective cues mentioned by the respondent that result into the
first two cues.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project manager. The selected cues do not
necessarily relate directly to this role (it are all cues that have other roles as direct
counterpart). It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected
to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the secretary and of
the direct environment, thereby not hindering the internal waterways. This is directly
related to the first three cues, which all refer to environmental elements. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A
summary of this is given in table B14.
TABLE B14 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 7
110 |
Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.8.
Analysis respondent 8
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B15.
FIGURE B15. THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE
WAS NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first two cues refer to situations that are not complex anymore since the contract has
been made and the external environment is now the responsibility of the contractor. The
third cue is translated into the lack of experience of parties regarding the new water act and
results in a negative judgement for the result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was focussed the juridical component of the project, in specific
the public law component. Some of the selected cues refer to this role (experience of
stakeholders), others do not (diversity of interests and social impact). It is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a juridical character. Since some of the cues refer to
juridical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the
education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the public cause by
motivating and preparing decisions. Since all cues are related to this stake (the respondent
indicated that you deal with different interests by explaining the public law rules). It is
therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the
respondent. A summary of this is given in table B16.
TABLE B16 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 8
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent agreed with the project manager on the selection and judgement of the
cues.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.9.
Analysis respondent 9
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B17.
FIGURE B17 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All cues refer to the difficult and detailed contract which result in a challenging contact with
the contractor. The judgements are do not refer explicitly to negative impacts for the
project but more to challenges coming forward out of the contract. The difficult location has
been mentioned as objective cue leading to the strong safety requirements and number of
goals.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was to keep in contact with the contractor. All of the selected
cues refer to this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to
the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. All of the cues refer to technical
complexities, but there is no evidence that this has anything to do with the education of the
respondent: they are a result of the role of the respondent according to the respondent. It
is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the education of the
respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the public cause by
providing safety and the responsible use of money. Both interests are directly reflected in
the selection of cues and judgements. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues
was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B18.
TABLE B18 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 9
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent seems to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager, but does not
share the perceptual judgements of the project manager since the contract manager judges
the external cues from a contractual perspective, and they do not form a contractual risk
anymore.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.10. Analysis respondent 10
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B19.
FIGURE B19 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All cues refer to the environment of the project and the challenges within that environment.
Although the contract has been signed, the respondent still identifies these cues. The last
cue was mentioned in the interview, but immediately reduced in priority: the external
elements are the contributors to complexity according to the respondent.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was to keep in contact with the environment. All of the selected
cues refer to this role, except for the last but that was downscaled in importance in the
interview. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of
the respondent.
The education of the respondent is physical geography. None of the cues refer to elements
of this education (except for the first element, but this is not judged on physical aspects but
on the effects of usage). It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was minimally
connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of society and the
interests of the environment. All cues refer to the last interest, it is therefore stated that
the selection of the cues was connected to the stakes of the respondent. A summary of this
is given in table B20.
TABLE B20 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 10
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent does not seem to recognize the ‘social impact’ cue of the project manager
and can therefore not identify why this cue was chosen by the project manager.
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1.11. Analysis respondent 11
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B21.
FIGURE B21 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All selected cues refer to one single judgement: the poor quality of the project. It is clear
that the cues result in a negative impact for the project according to the respondent.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was to defend the interests of the skippers in the project. All of
the selected cues refer to this role, since all cues are translated in the quality for the project
to the internal waterways. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is logistical. The cues refer to the quality that influences
the functioning of logistical usage, but this is at the same time the interest that the
respondent supposed to defend in the project. The own education experience of the
respondent however does seem to play a role determining this project quality. It is
therefore stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the education of the
respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of skippers. All cues
refer to this, it is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the
interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B22.
TABLE B22 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 11
No
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent does seem to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager but does
not judge them the same since the elements do not affect the respondent in functioning
and are project-manager-specific.
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1.12. Analysis respondent 12
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B23.
FIGURE B23 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all result in perceptual judgements that deal with collaboration. Especially
the collaboration between the project team and the contractor is criticised, where the
acceptance procedure is most criticised. The cues are result into negative impacts for the
project.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of contractor. All of the selected cues refer to this
role, since all cues relate to the collaboration between contractor and project team. It is
therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. All selected cues are technical,
but the perceptual judgements all focus on organizational problems, it is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the contractor,
aiming to build a project in which the relations with the project team would be good. Since
almost all cues refer to this relationship and the quality of that relationship, it is stated that
the selection of the cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of
this is given in table B24.
TABLE B24 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 12
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent does seem to recognize the chosen cues of the project manager but does
not judge them the same since the respondent does not have enough information on this
area in order to judge the elements.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.13. Analysis respondent 13
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B25.
FIGURE 25 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all result in the perceptual judgement of (a threat of) delay. The cues are
therefore perceived to have a negative impact on the project.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one project leader within a municipality. None of the
selected cues refer to this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
minimally connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a juridical character. The selected cue refers to this
education and the respondent indicated that selection was partly based on education, it is
stated that the selection of the cue was connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the municiaplity,
translated into a number of demands including an on-time delivery. Since this element is
however not mentioned as most important element in the municipalities’ interest, it is
stated that the selection of the cue was partly connected to the interests of the respondent.
A summary of this is given in table B26.
TABLE B26 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 13
116 |
Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.14. Analysis respondent 14
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B27.
FIGURE B27 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cue was identical to the one of the process manager as was the perceptual
judgement. The element of the culture of the civil principal was mentioned during the
interview but was mitigated right away by stating that this communication was now in the
hands of a consortium.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of contractor. All of the selected cues refer to this
role, since all cues relate to the collaboration between contractor and project team. It is
therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. All selected cues are technical,
but the perceptual judgements all focus on organizational problems, it is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the contractor,
aiming to build a project in which the relations with the project team would be good. Since
almost all cues refer to this relationship and the quality of that relationship, it is stated that
the selection of the cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of
this is given in table B28.
TABLE B28 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 14
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the process manager
It turned out that the process manager and the respondent agreed on the element, but
both used another interpretation of the element in their judgement.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.15. Analysis respondent 15
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B29.
FIGURE B29 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all come down to ‘classic’ elements: time, money and people. These
elements always make projects complex according to the respondent. The first cue
translates in a neutral judgement, both other cues translate into judgements which impact
the project slightly negative (the judgements are given as a chance on a negative impact
but the judgements themselves do not imply immediate negative impact).
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of architect. The two last selected cues refer to this
role, since they impact the work of the architect. It is therefore stated that the selection of
the cues was partly connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. None of the selected cues is
technical, but the respondent stated that the selection of the cues was based on his
experiences as architect. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was partly
connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the state, aiming to
build a project in which quality is guaranteed. Since almost all cues refer to this quality, it is
stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the interests of the
respondent. A summary of this is given in table B30.
TABLE B30 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 15
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the process manager
The respondent does not experience the project complexity within the elements of the
process manager because it is not his responsibility.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.16. Analysis respondent 16
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B31.
FIGURE B31 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all refer to a judgement which relates to the PPP construction. The
contract type asks internal validation, the financing through banks causes time pressure
and the operation part demands new skills of the constructor. Perceptual judgements do
not translate as negative impact on the project: they are more challenges to meet and once
achieved they can benefit the project or organisation.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project director. All selected cues refer directly to
tasks that need to be performed from this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of
the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the company, aiming
to build a qualitative project and learn the skills necessary for PPP projects. The perspective
is strongly focussed on the learning aspect of the team, it is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is
given in table B32.
TABLE B32 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 16
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the process manager
The respondent does recognize the cues selected by the process manager, but indicates
that he doesn’t have influence on them. Therefore he does not share the judgement with
the process manager.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.17. Analysis respondent 17
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B33.
FIGURE B33 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first two selected cues are judged as organizational challenges between the actors. The
time pressure causes a chance of missing the contractual deadline and is drive by the
objective cue of decisions that still need to be made. All cues result in judgement that
might have a negative impact on the project but necessarily so.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of environmental manager. Only the first cue refers
to tasks that need to be performed by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of
the cues was minimally connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the company and
therefore the interests of the future visitors. The perspective is not focused on the future
visitors nor their experience, it is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
minimally connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table
B34.
TABLE B34 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 17
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the process manager
The respondent does recognize the cues selected by the process manager, but explains that
the judgement is different because the source behind these elements is the reason for
complexity. That source is the number of actors involved.
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1.18. Analysis respondent 18
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B35.
FIGURE B35 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
All selected cues referred to situations that have occurred and therefore do not contribute
to complexity anymore. The lack of information has been solved and the dialogue phase
went according to plan. The time pressure is now the concern of the consortium.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project manager. All cues refer to tasks that
should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the ministry that
acts as civil principal. These interests consisted of a project being delivered within the
budget and of good quality. The perspective is not focused on the quality but is on time,
which translates itself into money. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
partly connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table
B36.
TABLE B36 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 18
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the process manager
The respondent would have judged the differing element more complex in retroperspective, because everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
121 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.19. Analysis respondent 19
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B37.
FIGURE B37 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues are externally focussed all result in a judgement which contributes
negatively to project result. Although the nature of the location is interpreted into technical
challenges, the judgement refers back to an external situation.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project manager. All cues refer to tasks that
should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the municipality.
These interests consist of a project being delivered while maintaining a good relationship
with the external surrounding. The perceived complexity focuses itself fully on that
relationship. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the
interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B38.
TABLE B38 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 19
122 |
Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.20. Analysis respondent 20
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B39.
FIGURE B39 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues were chosen based on the bad relationship between contractor and
project team. Due to the improved project management from the project team, the last two
cues became less valid. Technical risks will always be a part of the project and cannot be
removed. The last two cues referred to a situation that had a negative impact on the
project, the first cue is judged as a possible negative contributor to project result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project director for the contractor. All cues refer
to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the
cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. The cue of the technical risks
refers to technical challenges, the other two cues referred to organizational mistakes. It is
therefore stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the education of the
respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the company. These
interests consisted of profit in the project. The perspective is fully focussed on technical
risks, which can affect profits greatly if they occur. It is therefore stated that the selection
of the cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in
table B40.
TABLE B40 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 20
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent recognizes the selected cues of the project manager and respects the
judgement, but indicates that difference is based on different primary responsibilities.
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.21. Analysis respondent 21
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B41.
FIGURE B41 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues were chosen based on the bad relationship between the project team and
external surroundings. The new project team reduced the judgement on the first and third
element, the second element however cannot be resolved. The selected cues all translate
into judgements that impact the project negative.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of spokesman on behalf of the neighbourhood. All
cues refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of economical and Russian. Since none of the cues refer
to elements that come close to this education, it is stated that the selection of the cues was
minimally connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the neighbourhood.
The perspective is fully focussed on the relation between the neighbourhood and the
project. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the interests
of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B42.
TABLE B42 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 21
No
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent recognizes the selected cues of the project manager and shares his
judgement on these cues.
124 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.22. Analysis respondent 23
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B43.
FIGURE B43 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues were chosen based on the bad relationship between the project team and
external surroundings. The new project team reduced all elements with a new approach
towards the external surroundings and a renewed contact with the contractor. All elements
were explained as negative contributors to project result.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of chairman within the NGO. The first en third cues
refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection
of the cues was partly connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of social psychology. Since none of the cues refer to
elements that come close to this education, it is stated that the selection of the cues was
minimally connected to the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the neighbourhood,
translated into financial wishes. The perspective is fully focussed on the relation between
the neighbourhood and the project, but not on the financial component. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the interests of the
respondent. A summary of this is given in table B44.
TABLE B44 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 23
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent was not confronted with the differences of the project manager due to a
lack of time during the interview.
125 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.23. Analysis respondent 24
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B45.
FIGURE B45 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues were chosen based on cues that refer to the civil principals. They are all
based on problems within the project that impact the project performance negatively.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project manager. All cues refer to tasks that
should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was
connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the rail infra
manager, translated into a safe project in which the money is spent appropriate. The
project is however more focussed on the organizational set-up of the project, but the cue of
financial resources refers to appropriate spending of money. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was partly connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of
this is given in table B46.
TABLE B46 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 24
126 |
Yes
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.24. Analysis respondent 25
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B47.
FIGURE B47 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all refer to the process of scope definition. Although the cues are
technical, the judgements all refer to organisational problems which impact the project
negatively.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project manager. All cues refer to judgements
that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is accounting. Since none of the cues refer to accounting,
it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the education of the
respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the Secretary,
thereby protecting the Secretary for politicians. The cues are all chosen because the
respondent needs answers on the scope in order to satisfy the politicians. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A
summary of this is given in table B48.
TABLE B48 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 25
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent did not recognize the selected cues of the project manager since he
believes that there is only one civil principal and only one finance source.
127 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.25. Analysis respondent 26
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B49.
FIGURE B49 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues all refer to difficult relation with the contractor and the design process.
Although all judgements refer to problems that have occurred, the respondent still sees the
cues as valid. All cues translate into problems that impacted the project negatively.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of project director of the engineering firm. All cues
refer to judgements that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the project and
challenges lie in the planning and execution of the project. The cues all result in
judgements on this planning and execution. It is therefore stated that the selection of the
cues was connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table
B50.
TABLE B50 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 26
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent was not confronted with the differences since the survey answers were
temporarily not available during the interview.
128 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.26. Analysis respondent 27
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B51.
FIGURE B51 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The selected cues refer to the difficult relation between the project team and the contractor.
The second cue refers to the prior project managers that were unable to make a sufficient
phasing plan, and although the plan was of good quality at the moment of the interview,
the respondent still considered the cue to be valid. All cues refer to judgements that have a
negative impact on the project.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of advisor on behalf of a rail carrier. No cues refer
to judgements that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore
stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the role of the respondent.
The education respondent did not attend any specific education but has a large experience
within different units of the rail carrier. Since none of the cues refer to this element, it is
stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the education of the
respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the rail carrier
asking for a future-proof infrastructure. The cues do not refer directly to this interest, but
the respondent indicated that the terminated contract with the contractor was a chance to
make a good future-proof design of the station. It is therefore stated that the selection of
the cues was partly connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is
given in table B52.
TABLE B52 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 27
No
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent did recognise the selected cues from the project manager, but indicated
that the judgements were different since the two have different roles in the project.
129 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.27. Analysis respondent 28
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B53.
FIGURE B53 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The first cue forms the basic complexity in the assessment of the respondent, the second
and third refer to the process to deal with the first cue. The first cue refers to a challenge
the respondent faces, the last two to problems the respondent faces.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of program manager. All cues refer to judgements
that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated that the
selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education respondent is of both physical science and management science. Since none
of the cues refer to this study directly and the respondent did not mention any reference to
education, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to the
education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the travellers
translated into a solid infrastructure which can handle a high frequency of train movements.
Only the first cue does refer directly to this interest. It is therefore stated that the selection
of the cues was partly connected to the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is
given in table B54.
TABLE B54 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 28
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent did not recognise the cues of the project manager since she is not
confronted with those three elements in her daily business.
130 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.28. Analysis respondent 29
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B55.
FIGURE B55 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The respondent mainly refers to the complexity created by the different perceived
complexities of the civil principal and the project team, leading to a negative impact on the
project. Changing policies also lead to a difficult working environment.
Furthermore, since the respondent did mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies within the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one of advisor program manager. All cues refer to
judgements that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of the project,
translated into a smooth process which couples policy and design. All cues refer to the
problems the respondent experiences when it comes to the policy. It is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was partly connected to the interests of the respondent. A
summary of this is given in table B56.
TABLE B56 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 29
Yes
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent did recognise the first cue but does not share the judgement, recognises
the second cue and agrees on it and indicated that different definitions formed the third
difference but both mean the same thing.
131 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
1.29. Analysis respondent 30
With the data given in the interview, a descriptive lens model is constructed in order to
grasp the perceived complexity of the respondent. This is shown in figure B57.
FIGURE B57 THE LENS MODEL FOR THE RESPONDENT. AN OPAQUE ORANGE CUE MEANS THAT THE CUE WAS
NOT MENTIONED IN THE SURVEY BUT WAS MENTIONED IN THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW
Reflection on the perceived complexity
The last two cues referred to situations that are solved now. The first cue results in a
judgement which is decreasing project complexity but also lowering the quality of the
project.
Furthermore, since the respondent did not mention interventions to deal with the perceived
complexity, it is noticed that the perceived complexity lies outside the circle of influence of
the respondent.
The role of the respondent was the one sounding board member. All cues refer to
judgements that refer to tasks that should be dealt with by this role. It is therefore stated
that the selection of the cues was connected to the role of the respondent.
The education of the respondent is of a technical character. Since none of the cues refer to
technical complexities, it is stated that the selection of the cues was minimally connected to
the education of the respondent.
The interests the respondents indicated to embody are the interests of greenery around the
station. The valid cue refers to the lack of decision making on project components that
influence this interest. It is therefore stated that the selection of the cues was connected to
the interests of the respondent. A summary of this is given in table B58.
TABLE B58 INFLUENCE OF THE RESPONDENT AND THE CONNECTION OF THE PERCEIVED COMPLEXITY TO
THE ROLE, EDUCATION AND INTERESTS. AN EMPTY CIRCLE MEANS MINIMAL CONNECTION, AN HALF CIRCLE
MEANS MEDIUM CONNECTION AND A FULL CIRCLE MEANS CONNECTION.
Data source
Influence?
Connected to role
Connected to education
Connected to interests
Respondent 30
No
Reflection on the difference with the project manager
The respondent did recognise the cues of the project manager but judged these cues
differently due to a different vision: the respondent regarded the project from a political
view, the project manager from a project view.
132 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Appendix C. TOE-elements
The 57 elements of the TOE-framework that formed the basis of the survey are shown in
table C1. They were used to obtain the perceived complexities of the respondents.
TABLE C1 57 TOE-ELEMENTS USED IN THE RESEARCH
#
Element in Dutch
Element in English
1
Onduidelijkheid over projectdoelstelling(en)
Clarity of goals
2
Aantal projectdoelstellingen
Number of goals
3
Incongruentie van projectdoelstellingen
Goal alignment
4
Onzekerheid over de scope
Uncertainties in the scope
5
Onzekerheid over technische methoden
Uncertainty in methods
6
Aantal deelprojecten
Number of subprojects
7
Diversiteit van deelprojecten
Diversity in subprojects
8
Afhankelijkheid tussen deelprojecten
Dependency between subprojects
9
Diversiteit van technische disciplines
Diversity in technical disciplines
10
Investeringskosten
Size in CAPEX
11
Projectduur
Project duration
12
Niveau van de kwaliteitseisen
Quality requirements
13
Gebruik nieuwe technologie
Newness of technology
14
Ervaring met toegepaste technieken
Experience with technology
15
Aantal locaties
Number of locations
16
Technische risico’s
Technical risks
17
Aantal projectmedewerkers
Size of project team
18
Beschikbaarheid van capaciteit en vaardigheden
Capacity and skills availability
Resource availability
19
Beschikbaarheid van middelen
20
Discontinuïteit in bemensing
Discontinuity in staffing
21
Aantal opdrachtgevers
Number of clients
22
Aantal financieringsbronnen
Number of financial resources
23
Number of contracts and their interfaces
24
Aantal uitvoeringscontracten en interfaces
daartussen
Contractvorm
25
Kwaliteit van het hoofdcontract
Quality of the contract
26
27
Aansluiting tussen gebruikte projectmanagement
tools en methodieken
Ervaring met projectpartijen
Compatibility of different project management
methods and tools
Experience with parties involved
28
Samenwerking tussen aannemers
Collaboration between contractors
29
Interfaces tussen verschillende disciplines
Interfaces between different disciplines
30
Druk op de tijdsplanning
Time pressure
31
Werktijden
Working hours
32
Bereikbaarheid en bouwlogistiek
Accessibility and construction logistics
33
VGM-bewustzijn
Awareness on safety, health and environment
Contract type
34
Aantal verschillende nationaliteiten
Number of different nationalities
35
Aantal verschillende talen
Differences between languages
36
Vertrouwen tussen projectteam en opdrachtgever
Trust between the project team and the client
37
Vertrouwen tussen projectteam en aannemer(s)
Trust between the project team and the contractor
38
Cultuurverschillen
Cultural differences
39
Organisatorische risico’s
Organizational risks
40
Aard van de omgeving
Nature of the location
41
Aantal externe stakeholders
Number of external stakeholders
42
Diversiteit in belangen van externe stakeholders
Diversity in stakeholders interests
43
Afhankelijkheid van externe stakeholders
Dependencies on other stakeholders
44
Ervaring van omgevings-partijen met grote
projecten
Discontinuïteit bemensing stakeholders
Experience of stakeholders with LCPs
Invloed van stakeholders van binnen de
organisatie
Managementsupport vanuit de eigen organisatie
Influence of stakeholders within the internal
organization
Support of internal management
45
46
47
Discontinuity in staffing of stakeholders
48
Sociale impact
Social impact
49
Politieke invloed
Political influence
133 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
50
Media invloed
Media influence
51
Economische omstandigheden
Economic climate
52
Marktomstandigheden
Market conditions
53
Planologisch/juridische procedures
Planning/juridical procedures
Conflicting legislation
54
Conflicterende wet- en regelgeving
55
BLVC-bewustzijn
HSSE awareness
56
Interfaces met andere projecten
interfaces with other projects
57
Externe risico’s
Risks from environment
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Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Appendix D. Justification of interventions and
hypotheses
The tables below show justification for each hypothesis and each group of interventions as
described in chapter six.
TABLE D1 ALLOCATION OF DIFFERENT INTERVIEW-PARTS TO THE DIFFERENT HYPOTHESIS OR SUB-PARTS OF
THE HYPOTHESIS
Source
Interperation of intervention mentioned by respondent
Allocation
Respondent 19
Respondent 22
Respondent 18
Respondent 19
Respondent 21
Respondent 24
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
25
27
28
3
30
5
7
11
Respondent 12
Respondent 14
Respondent 16
Respondent 19
Respondent 2
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
21
24
27
28
3
Respondent 5
Respondent 6
Respondent 7
Respondent 24
Respondent 7
Respondent 26
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
25
1
24
7
1
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
20
21
29
1
4
8
135 |
The lack of control on the project is a source for perception: no control means
complex.
Control on the project is a source for perception: control means not complex.
The allocation of risks is a source of perception: elements that cause risks cause
a perception.
The perceived impact of project components is a source for perception.
The perceived impact of project components is a source for perception.
The allocation of risks is a source of perception: elements that cause risks cause
a perception.
The perceived impact of project components is a source for perception.
The perceived impact of project components is a source for perception.
Components threatening to block the progress is a source of a perception
The components that cause problems in a project are sources.
The components that cause problems in a project are sources
Components of a project blocking the progress is a source of a perception
Components threatening to block the progress is a source of a perception
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception.
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception.
Occupation of attention is a source of perception.
Occupation of time and attention by a component of the project is a source of
perception.
Occupation of attention is a source of perceptions.
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception.
The occupation of time and energy is a source.
The allocation of time and attention is a source.
The allocation of attention is a source.
Allocation of time and attention is a source.
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception.
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception
Occupation of time and energy by a component of the project is a source of
perception
Perceptions are based on the financial component of the project
Perceptions are based on the environment.
Perceptions are based on the geographical position with respect to the centre of
political power
Perceptions are based on the geographical position with respect to the centre of
political power
Perceived differences in project phase lead to differences
Different scales of the scope leads to different perceptions
Perceptions are based on the type of project.
Perceptions are based on the type of project
Interests, education and experiences within other projects are sources for a
perception.
The interests which the individual represents is a source for perceptions.
The interests which the individual represents is a source for perceptions.
The interests which the individual represents is a source for perceptions.
Different stakes lead to different perceptions
Different interests lead to different perceptions
The different interests lead to different perceptions
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
I: control
I: control
I: impact
I: impact
I: impact
I: impact
I:
I:
I:
I:
I:
I:
I:
I:
impact
impact
impact
impact
impact
impact
impact
mind
I: mind
I: mind
I: mind
I: mind
I: mind
I:
I:
I:
I:
I:
mind
mind
mind
mind
mind
I: mind
I: mind
III: capex
III:
environment
III:
geography
III:
geography
III: phase
III: scope
III: type
III: type
IV: interests
IV:
IV:
IV:
IV:
IV:
IV:
interests
interests
interests
interests
interests
interests
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
11
14
15
22
25
29
30
13
The different interests lead to different perceptions
Different interests lead to differences.
Different interests lead to differences.
Different interests lead to differences.
Different interests lead to differences
Differences in interests lead to differences
Differences in interests lead to differences
The different attitudes of stakeholders lead to different perceptions:
company/organization interest or project interest?
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
2
8
9
2
10
15
29
1
7
16
18
20
22
28
30
4
Personal mission is a source for perception.
Personal mission is a source of a perception
Company mission is a source of perception
Different opinions on the effects of the market lead to different perceptions
Role is a source of a perception
The role (of architect) is a source of perception
The role is a source of perception
Technical roles focus on technical complexities
Different roles lead to different perceptions
Different positions within the organisational structure lead to differences
Different roles lead to different perceptions
The different responsibilities of actors lead to differences
Different affections on the role lead to differences.
Differences in roles lead to differences.
Differences in roles lead to differences.
The difference between designers and contractors lead to different perceptions
Respondent 8
The difference between engineers and others lead to different perceptions
Respondent 4
The difference between public parties and private parties lead to different
perceptions
The difference between public parties and private parties lead to different
perceptions
The difference between public parties and private parties lead to different
perceptions
Experiences within other projects is a source for a perception
Experience, from the person or from others, is a source of a perception
Experience is a source of a perception: more experience leads to less complex
perception
Experience (on the same project) is a source of perception: more experience
means less complex.
Experience is a source of perception.
Available information leads to a perception.
A lack of understanding the techniques and processes needed to realize these
techniques lead to different perceptions
Differences in available knowledge lead to different perceptions
The difference in knowledge and information on a project lead to different
perceptions
The difference in technical knowledge lead to different perceptions
The difference in knowledge and information on a project lead to different
perceptions
The difference in knowledge and information on a project lead to different
perceptions
Differences in informational insight lead to different perceptions
Differences in information lead to differences.
Differences in information lead to differences.
Differences are natural and no problem if all actors can deal with these
differences
Different perceptions are a negative phenomenon
People must have the same image of the project
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged if there
is a chance that the difference cause harm to the project
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to look in the same direction.
Interests need to be exchanged in order to create understanding and skip the
conflict phase
Interests need to be exchanged; contrasting interests could cause differences.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to reach agreement on crucial project elements.
Perceptions are an undesirable phenomenon which impact project performance
negatively: one vision contributes positively to project performance
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to avoid problems in the project.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to come to a jointly goal
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to create understanding.
Differences lead to restlessness which leads to a more complex project
Respondent 8
Respondent 20
Respondent 4
Respondent 7
Respondent 10
Respondent 16
Respondent 27
Respondent 23
Respondent 3
Respondent 3
Respondent 8
Respondent 9
Respondent 10
Respondent 11
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
20
26
27
4
Respondent 6
Respondent 10
Respondent 12
Respondent 15
Respondent 16
Respondent 17
Respondent 21
Respondent 24
Respondent 27
Respondent 28
Respondent 30
Respondent 1
136 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests
IV: interests;
company/
project
IV: mission
IV: mission
IV: mission
IV: mission
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role
IV: role;
designers/
contractors
IV: role;
engineers/
others
IV: role;
public/private
IV: role;
public/private
IV: role;
public/private
II
II
II
II
II
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
V: Info
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
3
3
4
4
Respondent 4
Respondent 6
Respondent 6
Respondent 6
Respondent 7
Respondent 7
Respondent 9
Respondent 12
Respondent 23
Respondent 24
Respondent 26
Respondent 27
Respondent 29
Respondent 29
Respondent 30
Respondent 7
Respondent 9
Respondent 11
Respondent 13
Respondent 18
Respondent 19
Respondent 19
Respondent 26
Respondent 26
Respondent 11
Respondent 14
Respondent 18
Respondent 25
Differences lead to promises which cannot be met
Differences manifest subcutaneous and lead to incomprehension and irritations
Differences lead to biased information
Differences lead to strategic advantage positions which lead to unwillingness to
exchange information
Differences lead to strategically advantages for some parties.
Differences lead to poor project performance
A lack of uniformity lead to poor project performance because the process is not
well managed
Differences contribute negatively to the project performance.
Differences lead to inadequate staffing if the complexity is misunderstood
Differences lead to lack of management attention when the complexity is
misunderstood
Differences cause contractual risks when it comes to the environment and
contact with the contractor
Differences can lead to poor project performance
A better understanding of project complexity works in explaining the project to
the followers of the internal organisation
Differences between the project team and the civil principal lead to different
understanding of the project.
Differences led to oversimplified contracts which led to poor project performance
Differences lead to problems in projects.
Different perceptions between the project team and the civil principal lead to
complications in the execution of projects.
Different perceptions are important to understand the external stakeholders.
Different perceptions lead to different allocations of attention
Differences contribute positively to the project performance because you need
the ability to look from the other side to the project
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to understand the project.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to understand the system.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to understand the problems.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to understand the risks.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to create a richer picture of reality.
Differences are a desirable phenomenon.
Differences need to be managed and perceptions need to be exchanged in order
to understand the system.
Differences are a desirable phenomenon.
Differences lead to conversations which lead to better understanding the system
A better understanding of project complexity works in explaining the project to
the followers of the internal organisation
Differences in perceptions lead to differences in awareness of project complexity
Differences lead to a better understanding of the project
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VI
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
VII
TABLE D2 ALLOCATION OF DIFFERENT INTERVENTIONS MENTIONED BY RESPONDENTS WITHIN THE
FRAMEWORK OF INTERVETIONS
Source
Intervention
Classification
Respondent 25
Use second opinions to verify perceptions
Controlling
Respondent 2
Create independency: organize the project delivery team in a project bureau
Controlling
Respondent 27
Internal supervision within the same organisation is important
Controlling
Respondent 2
Coaching of experienced people for the project delivery team
Controlling
Respondent 2
Replace people that block the progress of the project
Controlling
Respondent 25
Judge design scenarios
Controlling
Respondent 5
Do not involve more people: they make the project more complex
Connecting
Respondent 25
Create a workspace where parties are physically present
Connecting
Respondent 2
Ask the questions behind questions
Connecting
Respondent 25
Ask open questions
Connecting
Respondent 27
Create trust by attending informal activities.
Connecting
Respondent 25
Create trust by organising activities where people share visions
Connecting
Respondent 2
Use interpreters to transfer perceptions without hierarchical noise
Connecting
Respondent 25
Create a desk that functions as interpreter between parties
Connecting
Respondent 2
People are crucial in the project performance
Respondent 27
The project team make the difference.
Respondent 27
Experiences of the project team with the same type of project is important.
Respondent 27
Put pressure on the project through superiors
Actuating
Respondent 28
Choose a lead-and-follow-approach or a consensus-approach based on the
Actuating
situation.
Respondent 2
Create ownership: introduce a meeting of all clients and sponsors
Actuating
Respondent 25
Important civil principals must actively claim client ship of the project
Actuating
Respondent 5
Enforce decisions: escalate the problem to superiors
Actuating
Respondent 25
Make sure that all stakeholders keep talking to each other
Controlling
Respondent 28
Separate the person leading the process from the person defending interests.
Controlling
Respondent 5
Prepare decisions between lower levels between organizations
Controlling
Respondent 28
Make time: disconnect the critical path from the rest of the project
Controlling
137 |
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
2
28
2
28
28
28
17
Respondent 17
Respondent 20
Respondent 12
Respondent 20
Respondent 12
Respondent 16
Respondent 17
Respondent 12
Respondent 20
Respondent 12
Respondent 16
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
20
16
20
17
12
20
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
12
17
17
12
17
16
Respondent 20
Respondent 12
Respondent 16
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
17
12
17
16
17
12
Respondent 16
Respondent 17
Respondent 11
Respondent 23
Respondent 11
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
21
23
21
11
11
21
30
Respondent 23
Respondent 21
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
23
23
30
23
Respondent 21
Respondent 23
Respondent 11
138 |
Surround yourself with people that complement your own perception
Involve the right people in decision making
Be open and transparent
Create awareness of the problem in the internal organisation
Create understanding for the reality of other people
Share starting points and changes actively with interfacing projects.
People need to focus on the interest of the project instead of the interest of the
company.
People need to think win-win, not win-lose.
Mirror the organisation of the project team to the organisation of the contractor
The project team has to make sure that all stakeholders are on the same
knowledge level
Do not shift all responsibilities to the contractor but show yourself a mature
principal.
Independent parties can settle differences
Conflicts need to be separated from the process by reaching 'agree to disagree'.
Other techniques must be found to solve these problems.
Create a workspace where people fysically work together
Communicate open and fair
The PT must make the first step in a good collaboration and the contractor must
follow; this creates a relationship.
Organise a PSU and sequels to this meeting.
Arrange a PSU with informal contact moments in which both project team and
contractor participate
Arrange a PSU which focuses on the exchange of visions.
Share interests and agree to disagree
Understand the interests of other people.
Design a consultation structure
Trust between parties is of high importance
People need to work together for a long time in order to come to a good
collaboration.
Organise 1-on-1 meetings between counterparts
People must be prepared to be the devil´s advocate in the internal organisation.
Environmental managers need to earn space within the project team.
Conduct interface-meetings and use systems engineering to execute decisions
Introduce an interface meeting
Parties must be willing to fire employees on the project if they resist the project
management style.
Find the right people within scientific institutes or pensioned colleagues
Stress collaboration between sub-contractors
Combining the DBMO in a DMFMO contract intro one organisation reduces
complexity.
Managing the relations between disciplines is managing complexity.
Make time: construct project parts at the same time in stead of sequential
Apply systems engineering, verificate and validate
Make time: construct project parts at the same time in stead of sequential
Continuity of people is important in LCPs
Repair the conservative view that contractors always want to bill additional
work.
Communicatie transparant about the delivery deadline to all project employees
The new constructor does not construct, but delivers a service of which
construction is one part. Environmental management is essential.
Enforce participation by juridical steps
Actively use your network of people to get things done.
Activate interpreters that can explain the complexity, preferably within the
organisation of the counterpart through an informal network
The result towards the environment must be centralised in project management
Turn the responsibility for the burden of proof.
Seperate the roles in the project team so that the interests can be accounted for
Explain with the help of photos and pictures
Make sure that all stakeholders are at the same knowledge level
Mind about the working hours with respect to the environment
Make financing an important part in the preparation phase in order to manage
expectations
Change the people working on a project
Do not shift all responsibilities to the contractor but show yourself a mature
principal; bad environmental is eventually for the cost of the governmental
agencies.
Money and risk awareness reduce complexity.
Build goodwill in the environment
Involve the environment early in the process
The project must show construction decency in order to strengthen collaboration
between the project en the environment.
Perceptions of neighbours need to be taken into account. The compensation
desk is important.
Show empathy for other complexities
Listen to each other
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Respondent 23
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
23
14
14
14
14
14
30
21
14
14
21
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
23
24
18
1
18
24
3
24
Respondent 24
Respondent 4
Respondent 29
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
29
18
15
24
18
24
8
13
Respondent 8
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
13
18
18
15
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
26
15
26
9
22
26
26
15
Respondent 26
Respondent 8
Respondent 18
Respondent 13
Respondent 24
Respondent 7
Respondent 13
Respondent 13
Respondent 7
Respondent 15
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
139 |
26
29
4
22
29
13
8
Create trust without mitigating arguments by communicating about differences
in experiences
Prepare meetings in an informal meeting before entering the formal meeting
Organise interface meetings
Create space to obey the interests of others by being flexible in the rules.
Kind people can make a difference in management
Represent the perceptions of others within the own organisation.
Find juridical loopholes to ensure project progress
Use perceptions as a strategic tool
Focus attention on the circle of influence
Physical presence makes a difference when communicating with parties
Force yourself to keep conversations going
The preparation phase is crucial; civil principals must balance preparations and
dare to not execute a project
Constructors must have fun in their work
Use informal networks to get things done within the own organisation
Explain complexity of others in the own organisation
PTs must be pro-active in solving issues by initiating solutions to civil principals
Off the record: Claim space within the civil principal by making a fist on the table
Let important financiers co-sign important decisions to create awareness.
Inform: escalate the problem to superiors
A separate project bureau leads to more independency and more freedom to
manage complexity.
Inform people by explaining the project and its complexities in a good story.
Make detailled designs as early as possible
Civil principals must make decisions on time in order to leave space for an open
and transparent attitude in the environment
Money can manage complexity.
Enough time and money results in a good project.
Share and communicate perceptions in order to achieve an integral design
Create trust and awareness with project parties.
Explain complexity of others in the own organisation
Create a tool to explain the complexity
Enable powerfull actors to empower your statement towards a party
The right actors need to solve the right issues, because different statuses of
parties can make a difference
Public and private interests must be balanced within a project. Therefore the
government has to stay involved in decision making: total outsourcing cannot
be done
Escalate decisions if no consensus can be reached
Fix the remuneration in order to focus on quality.
Listen closely to each other during the dialogues to prevent a false dialogue
Create a clear and unambiguous core of the project that people can use to
express their perceptions
Reconsider D&C contracts, consider traditional contracts
Formulate clear contractural criteria with controlable paramters
Introduce interface meetings
Conduct audits
The contractor must participate in environmental communication.
Contractors must provide the service of integral design leader.
Principals must show a professional attitude by managing expectations.
Ask for detailled designs in the dialogue phase in order to ensure contact
between consortium and architect
Demand an integral design of the contractor
Public parties have to end contracts with private parties if these parties do not
do a good job: parties do not need to feel convicted to each other.
Create an informal and good atmosphere during the dialogue phase. This
triggers creative and contributes to collaboration.
Create trust between parties in the tendering phase.
Off the record: Physical presence makes a difference when communicating with
parties
Improve communication by putting the actors physically into one working space.
Continuity of people is important in order to build relationships
Putting yourself in a vulnerable position and keeping yourself there beyond your
comfort zone is the first step in creating trust. Apply pressure on the
counterpart if they do not follow you in that movement.
PTs must seek collaboration with the constructor, no top-down assignment
The tender-phase is of high-importance: bad tendering results in a bad
collaboration.
Arrange a PSU with corresponding follow-ups in order to verify perceptions
Seperate the person leading the process from the person defending interests.
Create an informal external network
Let the environment co-design details of solutions.
Let the environment co-design in the plan.
Enforce decision making with the help of powerful project parties
There must be clear communication, therefore every decision has to be carefully
prepared and well motivated. If something cannot be done, the limits of
cooperation have to be indicated.
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Connecting
Connecting
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Respondent 22
Respondent 10
Respondent 19
Respondent 10
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
7
7
29
4
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
6
24
22
22
22
19
19
22
10
24
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
8
1
6
7
19
13
Respondent 19
Respondent 3
Respondent 6
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
1
1
18
13
15
13
18
Respondent 26
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
10
19
19
26
Respondent 19
Respondent 26
Respondent 3
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
1
13
18
26
10
9
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
19
19
19
1
15
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
15
19
26
18
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
8
19
24
1
140 |
Interests of the environment must be treated equally important to the interests
of construction.
Translate important environmental interests into contractual criteria
Communicatie transparant about compensation possibilities
Communicate the important issues and how they are handled clearly to the
external stakeholders.
Be open and transparant towards the environment. Manage the expectations.
Give confidence by basing actions on knowledge
Inventise demands objectively
Do not adapt an external strategy purely on meetings with external
stakeholders: they are not representative for all stakeholders
Communication: organize meetings with adjacent projects
Communicate and involve people early in the process.
Steer on listening and understanding. Not on consensus.
Do not inform the environment but seek interaction.
Be open and transparent. Show a vulnerable position.
Do not focus on the technical components in a story
Let the practitioners explain the project to the environment.
Joint Fact Finding with the neighbourhood.
Conduct different types of conversations and plan them in logical orders
The project manager must not apply the all-knowing style but stimulate actors
to discover the project
Enforce others to listen to complexity views, if necessary through superiors
Create the right knowledge and information
Create the right knowledge for the project delivery team
Exchange all new information within the project team as much as possible
Replace people if there is too much alignment in the team
Do not focus on time, scope and money. They are the expressions of problems,
not the sources.
Do not focus on time, scope and money. They are the expressions of problems,
not the sources.
Create a clear project delivery team which is responsible for the project
Reduce differences by providing everybody with the same information. Steer on
unambiguous.
Internal network: keep in close touch with line-management
Increase redundancy: point out assistents for every actor in the IPM model
Overcome internal lack of skills by involving market knowledge
Consult project parties before entering negotiations
Content experts must claim time with project management
Make time: construct project parts at the same time in stead of sequential
Do not apply interface management since it costs too much work to put
interfaces back together.
De-bundle, de-phase and de-compose a project if it cannot be explained
anymore.
Apply an integral approach of the assignment
Focus on perceptions, not on "truth". Perceptions are the reality.
Do not focus on tools, focus on people and their skills.
People make the difference: they must handle complexity together, not fight
each other.
Correspond your desired image with your project management style by
cultivating a culture by example behaviour, centring values and creating a
culture.
Physical presence makes a difference when communicating with parties
Create a physical workspace, thereby enhancing contact between project deliver
team members
Listen to what is meant, not to what is said
Read the question behind the question
Verify the meaning behind words of one another
Create understanding by asking the question behind the question
Explain the complexity to others
Ask open questions and provide answers with examples. Concentrate on the
facts
Ask truly open questions in meetings so that visions become clear
Steer on understanding, not on agreement
Create understanding on the responsibility of one person into the bigger picture.
Communication between actors: organize meetings and ask critical questions
Collaboration. People make the difference. People need to be ambitious, happy,
trustful, show courage and be transparent.
People must be willing to act between the rules protocols.
People need to have fun and like working on the project.
People must have fun in their job in order to manage complexity.
Staff the right people in the right phase: a dialogue phase asks for different
types of people then the execution phase.
Make use of experts on different topics
Managing the relations between disciplines is managing complexity.
Managing the relations between disciplines is managing complexity.
People are crucial in the project performance
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Actuating
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Controlling
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Connecting
Respondent 26
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
Respondent
141 |
19
24
24
29
Interests of the project must be centralised in project management, not
company interests
Combine both hard en soft approaches into one management style
Look for uncomfortable people in meetings
Do not split project- en process management. They happen at the same time.
Mix soft project management with hard management.
Towards perception-based management of complex construction projects
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