Aaron J. Shenhar, Professor of Technology Management and James J. Renier Visiting Chair, Center for the Development of Technological Leadership, University of Minnesota, MN and R. Max Wideman

A paper presented to the Southern Alberta Chapter, Project Management Institute, Symposium "Creating Canadian Advantage through Project Management", Calgary, May 1996

Introduction | Success | Scope | Dimensions
Correlation | Classification | Correlating Success | Conclusions

Correlation with Type of Project

Here again we have some difficulty. Just as there is no generally agreed framework against which project success can be classified, there is equally no satisfactory framework for the classification of projects themselves. Typically, projects may be grouped by the standard industry or business sector, and its subsets, such as construction, consulting services, resource industries, or manufacturing. The problem with this grouping is that any industry may be involved with projects such as construction, that have a high degree of similarity with other industries also involved with construction projects. Alternatively, one industry may encompass projects ranging from, say, manufacturing to research and development, and these represent entirely different areas of project management application.

Clearly, the "industry sector" classification is unsuited to our purpose. Projects are essentially unique undertakings, and their range in objectives, size, complexity and variety of technological content is almost limitless. They are not, however, confined by industry boundaries. What is required, therefore, is a classification system that is independent of industry but brings together project management commonalities, while differentiating between areas of project management application.

In January, 1995, Shenhar reported on his four-year study of the project database mentioned earlier.[16] Subsets of the database were used for more detailed examination to establish a project typology. In these, up to 100 parameters were identified and examined for relevance and suitability. The resulting recommendations are simple.[17]

The research postulates a two dimensional project typology consisting of project management scope versus technological uncertainty. Within this typology, the primary considerations which emerged from the research can be separated into identifiable subsets. Along the Project Management Scope dimension are three types; Assembly, System and Array. The Technological Uncertainty dimension was categorized into four types: Established, Mostly Established, Advanced, and Highly Advanced projects.

Each of these are described in the next section.

Dimensions of Project Success  Dimensions of Project Success

16. Shenhar, A. J., Contingent Project Management: A Classical Concept in a New Arena, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1994 (Working paper)
17. Shenhar, A. J., Some Projects are More Equal: Toward a Typology of Project Management Styles, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1995 (Working paper).
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