Requisite Variety and Decision Making in Complex Projects

Publisher:
Copenhagen Business School Press and Liber
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Advancing Research on Projects and Temporary Organizations, 2014, 1, pp. 234 - 250
Issue Date:
2014-01
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Project leaders real responsible for making decisions in contexts where at least some parameters are unknown, and even unknowable. Decisions from which critical actions ensue are made under extreme pressure of time and often without access to sufficient or relevant information. Debates promulgating the virtues of simplicity over complexity, and vice versa, have in one form or another been running for thousands of years, although the urge towards simplification continues to dominate scientific research and management (including project management ) practice. However, the current resurgence of interest in complexity, particularly in the light of recent world events that can only be explained by nonlinearity and emergence, provides renewed emphasis for a discussion about how we tackle difficult issues under conditions characterized by nonlinearity and emergence. Nonetheless, the general management, project management, and professional literatures tend to maintain an emphasis on the virtues of simplification of both the problem definition and its solution. This chapter provides a counterpoint, through discussion of persistent themes of reuisite variety within the philosophy of science, before discussing how these ideas can inform decision making in complex contexts. The literature is then consolidated to explore necessary conditions for robust decision-making in complex projects.
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