Complexity management in project organisations

Zaza Nadja Lee Hansen*, Anders Haug, Said Afandi, Lars Hvam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Managing costs is vital to developing profitable organisations. Whilst the literature stresses the importance of managing complexity in production companies, little attention has been given to project-based organisations. Thus, this paper investigates the research gap that exists for project organisations within the field of complexity management. The aim is to create a conceptual understanding of where complexity may be found in project organisations, thereby, paving the way for understanding the impact of complexity on operational performance. In order to accomplish this, a case study was conducted to understand complexity drivers and their effects in project organisations. The study has two main findings. First, three main complexity drivers in project organisations are identified: (1) project risks, (2) personal preferences and capabilities and (3) project management. Second, based on the case study, seven guidelines for project organisations engaging in complexity management projects are developed. The results provide new knowledge of complexity management in project organisations, thereby, enriching current complexity management frameworks. Given the novelty of the topic, several points of interest are identified as possible follow-up research areas, which include an investigation of other project organisations to generalise the research findings and a study of the detailed cost breakdown of project execution to identify areas where the least profitable projects consume incremental resources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProduction Engineering
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Complexity management
  • Project organisations
  • Operational performance
  • Case study research


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