Using Complexity Theory To Explain Emergent Project Management Practices

Corina Raduescu, University of Sydney


When top-down traditional approaches to project management (PM) in large scale information systems projects are taken, they cannot fulfil the challenges of complexity exhibited in such projects. This research in progress argues that an alternative approach rooted in complexity theory should be taken. This study challenges the traditional views of PM, and seeks to shed light in understanding and managing emergent PM practice by turning our attention to Complex Adaptive Systems concepts of self-organisation, coevolution, and emergence. Specifically it investigates and attempts to explain PM practices observed in a state-wide e-Health Programme implementation. By using complexity theory and critical realist perspective, this study seeks to: 1) adopt the view that PM methods and practices are emergent in nature and can be explained in terms of self-organisation, coevolution, and emergence; and 2) employ complexity theory as the analytical framework for conducting the process of abduction to derive explanations of empirical practices.