Exploring and Assessing Project Complexity

Bac Dao, Sharareh Kermanshachi, Jennifer Shane, Stuart Anderson, Eric Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The term project complexity is not well understood in the construction industry by either scholars or practitioners. Project complexity, however, is a critical factor in project management that presents additional challenges to achieving project objectives. Therefore, it is essential that everyone involved in project management thoroughly understand what project complexity is and how to identify, measure, and manage the various attributes and indicators it comprises. This study provided a constructive approach to identify and assess project complexity. As part of the study, a working definition of project complexity was developed by the research team, and project complexity was described in terms of project management rather than project physical features. In addition, the research team identified complexity attributes and developed the indicators that measure those attributes. Project specific data were collected through a survey of companies active in the construction industry. These data were statistically analyzed to test the significance of complexity indicators in differentiating low-complexity projects from high-complexity projects. The statistical analysis resulted in 34 significant complexity indicators associated with 22 attributes, which the research team considers truly representative of project complexity. The research findings can help scholars and practitioners in the project management field understand critical indicators of project complexity and develop an appropriate strategy to manage project complexity effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04016126
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management

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