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Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope of project management

Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope of project management
Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope of project management
This paper builds on discussions that took place over a series of meetings in the UK of the Rethinking Project Management Network. The management of uncertainty is seen as a necessary condition for effective project management. Sources of uncertainty are wide ranging and have a fundamental effect on projects and project management. These sources are not confined to potential events, and include lack of information, ambiguity, characteristics of project parties, tradeoffs between trust and control mechanisms, and varying agendas in different stages of the project life cycle. Common project management practice does not address many fundamental sources of uncertainty, particularly in ‘soft’ projects where flexibility and tolerance of vagueness are necessary. More sophisticated efforts to recognise and manage important sources of uncertainty are needed. Such efforts need to encompass organisational capabilities, including some aspects of organisation culture and learning.
uncertainty management, hard and soft projects, trust, organisational capabilities
0263-7863
687-698
Atkinson, Roger
84f33f89-3a52-407c-88b7-aaac4ccbae1f
Crawford, Lynn
1296e8da-5f36-4252-8275-e084b5893b94
Ward, Stephen
ac1bf683-4186-44e7-9f5e-4193ee4d03cd
Atkinson, Roger
84f33f89-3a52-407c-88b7-aaac4ccbae1f
Crawford, Lynn
1296e8da-5f36-4252-8275-e084b5893b94
Ward, Stephen
ac1bf683-4186-44e7-9f5e-4193ee4d03cd

Atkinson, Roger, Crawford, Lynn and Ward, Stephen (2006) Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope of project management. International Journal of Project Management, 24 (8), 687-698. (doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.09.011).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper builds on discussions that took place over a series of meetings in the UK of the Rethinking Project Management Network. The management of uncertainty is seen as a necessary condition for effective project management. Sources of uncertainty are wide ranging and have a fundamental effect on projects and project management. These sources are not confined to potential events, and include lack of information, ambiguity, characteristics of project parties, tradeoffs between trust and control mechanisms, and varying agendas in different stages of the project life cycle. Common project management practice does not address many fundamental sources of uncertainty, particularly in ‘soft’ projects where flexibility and tolerance of vagueness are necessary. More sophisticated efforts to recognise and manage important sources of uncertainty are needed. Such efforts need to encompass organisational capabilities, including some aspects of organisation culture and learning.

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More information

Published date: 2006
Keywords: uncertainty management, hard and soft projects, trust, organisational capabilities

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 42687
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/42687
ISSN: 0263-7863
PURE UUID: 078940e5-3ddf-4006-9a4c-7ae4982bd92f

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Date deposited: 14 Dec 2006
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 21:11

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Contributors

Author: Roger Atkinson
Author: Lynn Crawford
Author: Stephen Ward

University divisions

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