Herszon, Leon (2017) The complexity of projects: an adaptive model to incorporate complexity dimensions into the cost estimation process. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Most projects fail to deliver the required product, on time, or within the budget; and complex
projects have additional challenges due to the impact of complexity factors, henceforth called
dimensions. Cost overruns are common occurrences with projects, especially on complex
ones, which points to a better understanding of the cost-estimation process. Accordingly, it is
important to identify the factors affecting the project complexities and their impact on costestimation
process. Although project complexities and cost-estimation practices have been
discussed in literature, there is a clear gap in the existing body of knowledge regarding how
complexity dimensions are linked with cost estimation of project-based industries and how to
give due consideration to such complexity dimensions in cost estimation practices. The
dynamic nature of complexity calls for a model that considers these dimensions and supports
practitioners in the cost estimation process, including guidelines to deal with such
This research aims to develop a model that incorporates complexity dimensions into the costestimation
process for complex projects. For that to happen, there is a need to explore the
concept of complexity, the dimensions of complexity, and in what context these should be
considered in the cost-estimation process. An investigation of how these complexity
dimensions impact the cost-estimation process precedes the development of the proposed
Philosophically this research is positioned in the middle of the ontological, epistemological,
and axiological spectra leaning towards idealism, interpretivism, and subjectivism
respectively. Considering the use of survey and case studies as research strategies, the
research mode is better positioned as inductive with the research choice based on a mixed
method of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Empirical data has been collected from a
database of complex projects through documentary analysis, and from a survey and
interviews that have been used to develop and enhance the proposed model.
An analysis of the existing literature on project complexity, along with a documentary
analysis of 27 complex projects in a database, provided a list of 23 dimensions that are
relevant to project complexity. Based on this list, a survey of 54 practitioners was conducted
to gather expert views about the complexity dimensions and their impact on project cost
estimation. The 23 dimensions were then prioritized using the Relative Importance Index,
which revealed that different industries have distinct views on some dimensions and aligned
on others.
The survey was followed by a series of 10 in-depth interviews with subject experts. A final
analysis of the survey and interviews results helped to eliminate dimensions, reducing the list
of complexity dimensions to 15. Once the list of 15 dimensions was established, the model
was drafted and divided into an assessment table where practitioners would assess each
dimension on a scale of 1 to 4, the mapping of these results on a radar graph for better
visualization, and a list of guidelines for cost estimators on how to deal with these
The contribution to knowledge and society will be that such model could support
practitioners on creating awareness for complexity dimensions, which would generate more
accurate and reliable cost estimates for complex projects.

FINAL THESIS - Leon Herszon.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (7MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email