The management of large engineering projects is often a combination of the focus on planning and control, and the ambition to be flexible given the complexity and uncertainties that characterises these kinds of projects. However, control and flexibility impose contradictory requirements upon the management of these projects. The literature on project management reflects this contradiction. Some authors underline that projects require firm planning and control, thus downplaying the role of flexibility. Others emphasise that projects require flexibility and responsiveness, thus moving away from rigid planning and control. In this contribution, we suggest that in practice project managers acknowledge the weakness of both extremes and therefore strive to combine the two. Moreover, we argue that project success is at risk when project managers do not succeed in meeting the requirements of control and flexibility. To be able to investigate how these competing requirements are dealt with in practice, a framework is developed. The usefulness of the framework is explored by applying the framework to the large engineering project Randstadrail-a light rail project in The Netherlands.

Complexity, Control, Flexibility, Large engineering projects, Project management, Uncertainty,
International Journal of Project Management
Erasmus School of Economics

Koppenjan, J.F.M, Veeneman, W.W, van der Voort, H.G, ten Heuvelhof, E.F, & Leijten, M. (2011). Competing management approaches in large engineering projects: The Dutch RandstadRail project. International Journal of Project Management, 29(6), 740–750. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2010.07.003