Research Output
An Exploratory Study Of Perceived Complexity In IT Projects
  The considerable failure rate of information technology (IT) projects remains a problem for many organisations and impacts their ability to successfully participate in the digital economy. Previous root cause analysis identified project complexity as one of the key factors in and of IT project failure. The purpose of this research was therefore to critically examine complexity in IT projects. In contrast to earlier positivist research on complexity, this study was built on a critical realist perspective to better understand the underlying structures and mechanisms behind what individuals within IT projects perceive as being “complex”.
A qualitative research design was chosen with a series of semistructured in-depth interviews with IT project practitioners as the data collection method. The research identified four internal variables (experience, stress, frustration, and motivation) and three external variables (communication, expectations, and support) which interact with perceived complexity. These findings were synthesised into a conceptual model of perceived complexity in IT projects. In addition, the findings indicated that the role of an individual (project sponsor, project manager, project team member) influences perceived complexity.
Through the identification of previously hidden mechanisms within IT projects, the study extends the body of knowledge about IT project complexity. In addition, the identified mechanisms were combined with typical situations in IT projects. The outcome, which represents the study’s contribution to practice, are practice-orientated guidelines for handling complexity in IT projects which aims to support IT project professionals and organisations to better manage complexity. The study therefore provides valuable contributions to the theory and practice of IT project complexity.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 October 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    658.4038 Information Management

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Klotz, D. An Exploratory Study Of Perceived Complexity In IT Projects. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Information technology, qualitative research, project failure, project management

Monthly Views:

Available Documents