What Complexity Assessments can Tell Us about Projects: Dialogue Between Conception and Perception

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Complexity is an eminent concept in the project management community. This paper explores the value of complexity assessment to evaluate key management challenges of projects. It compares and contrasts the results of complexity assessments with rich qualitative data about projects through a multi-case study conducted with seven projects in a large plant engineering company. The results suggest that, if used with caution, complexity assessment can uncover significant challenges of projects. It also showed that complexities are partly inherent and partly (self-) induced, and therefore managers and companies should consider complexity not as given but as negotiable, and actively engage on the shaping of complexity throughout the project. The assessment of complexity itself is a tool to enable such active management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology Analysis & Strategic Management
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)665–678
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Complexity
  • Uncertainty
  • Project management
  • Contingency

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