Systems thinking for project management: implications for practice and education

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    English: Deriving from a critique of the theory of management that has influenced the practice of project management, this article explores an alternative paradigm in the form of systems thinking. The known multi-disciplinary usefulness of systems thinking is proposed as a means of reconsidering project planning, implementation and control, leading to potential implications for the education of project managers. The appropriate selection of systems approaches for use in the planning and control of complex projects in any development sector, including construction, is considered. Although the specific details of any specific ‘process-based’ systems approaches are not presented, the conceptual rationale for such approaches to project planning and control is presented. This is done within a framework of critical consideration of those factors that are argued to contribute to failure to meet key project outcomes, especially in complex projects. Contemporary literature (extensively referred to in this article) increasingly suggests that there are limits to the established ‘rational-oriented’ approaches to project management. The current body of practice knowledge requires the addition of complementary, ‘process-based’ approaches for a new generation of strategic project managers. Specific recommendations for educational development in this regard are made. This article explores the influence of contemporary organisational theory on project management and hence the need to add critically necessary soft skills capacity to the current body of knowledge.