Loughborough University
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Resilience in projects: definition, dimensions, antecedents and consequences

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posted on 2017-11-22, 16:12 authored by Karen B. Blay
Disruptions can cause projects to fail. Within the project management literature, approaches to managing disruptions consist of uncertainty, risk, opportunity, change, and crisis management. These approaches focus on developing strategies to manage perceived threats and also work towards predicting risk, therefore, reducing vulnerability. This vulnerability-reduction only focus is limiting because it takes the focus away from the development of a general capacity for readiness and for responding to uncertain situations. A resiliency approach enables a simultaneous focus on vulnerability reduction, readiness and response and thus ensures recovery. Given the context and discipline specific nature of the resilience concept, and the little or no attention in projects, this thesis conceptualises resilience in projects. This conceptualisation is to enable the identification of factors to consider and indicators to ensure overall project recovery, through the identification of dimensions and antecedents of resilience respectively. The aim of this study therefore, is to develop a framework to conceptualise resilience in projects. To achieve this aim, three case studies, namely; building, civil engineering and engineering construction projects were investigated. Within each case study, the critical incident technique was employed to identify disruptions and their management through direct observations of human activities, narration of critical incidents and review of documents on disruption. Following this, a comparative analysis and synthesis of the case studies was carried out and findings revealed definition, dimensions, antecedents and consequences of resilience in projects. Specifically, resilience in projects is defined as; the capability of a project to respond to, prepare for and reduce the impact of disruption caused by the drifting environment and project complexity. The dimensions of resilience are; proactivity, coping ability, flexibility and persistence. Proactivity can be defined as an anticipatory capability that the project takes to influence their endeavours whilst coping ability can be defined as the capability to manage and deal with stress caused by disruptions within the projects. Furthermore, flexibility can be defined as the capability of a project to manage disruption by allowing change but ultimately making sure that the aim is maintained and persistence is the capability to continue despite difficult situations. Several antecedents of these dimensions of resilience are identified. For proactivity these include contract, training, monitoring, contingency and experience. For coping ability these include the contract, training, contingency and experience. For flexibility these include open-mindedness, planning, continual monitoring and continual identification of ideas and for persistence these include continual monitoring, planning and negotiation. Also, the consequence of resilience in projects is recovery through response, readiness and vulnerability reduction. This conceptualisation of resilience is then synthesised into a validated framework for resilience in projects. Theoretically, this research provides definition, dimensions, antecedents and consequence for resilience in projects and a theoretical starting point for the concept of resilience in projects. The significance of this research to practice is the identification and development of a more holistic perspective of managing disruptions in projects through the identified dimensions, antecedents and consequences. These dimensions, antecedents and consequences provide clarity for the roles of project managers and team members in managing disruptions and thus, expand the eleventh knowledge area; project risk management, of the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). In addition, the dimensions, antecedents and consequences of resilience in projects contribute to the curriculum development in project management and thus, provide factors and indicators that project managers require in managing disruptions.





  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Karen Banahene Blay

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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