A critical argument in favour of theoretical pluralism: project failure and the many and varied limitations of project management

2017-06-08T09:14:20Z (GMT) by Dan Sage Andrew Dainty Naomi Brookes
In project management, failure is often assumed to be evidence of deficient management: a problem that can be overcome by better management. Drawing on qualitative research within UK construction projects we examine how four different theoretical approaches (positivism, structural Marxism, interpretivism and actor–network theory) all challenge this managerial assumption. Each theoretical perspective enables a specific analysis of empirical data that critiques the notion that project failures are easily, simply, or largely, associated with the failure of project management. In so doing, our pluralist analysis reveals the social and political contextualization of performance in project management. We thus conclude by proposing that practitioner and scholarly concerns with project failure (and success), can actively contribute to attempts to reflect upon various matters of political concern as developed within the Making Projects Critical community, and by extension Critical Management Studies. Thus, we propose greater interaction between critical and mainstream project research communities.