Project Management Institute

Managing risks in complex projects

Dealing effectively with risks in complex projects is difficult and requires management interventions that go beyond simple analytical approaches. This is one finding of a major field study into risk management practices and business processes of 35 major product developments in 17 high-technology companies. This research uses an exploratory field study format with focus on four interrelated sets of variables: risk, team, team leader, and project environment. Almost one-half of the contingencies that occur are not being detected before they affect project performance. Yet, the risk-impact model presented in this article shows that risk does not affect all projects equally but depends on the effectiveness of collective managerial actions dealing with specific contingencies. The results of this study discuss why some organizations are more successful in detecting risks early in the project life cycle, and in decoupling risk factors from work processes before they affect project performance. The field data sugge
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