Jeffrey K. Pinto, John E. Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


It has been a well‐recognized axiom in project management research that the project implementation process can be greatly facilitated by addressing a variety of project critical success factors. It is argued here that critical factors often fall into two distinct sub‐groups: those related to initial project planning and those concerned with subsequent tactical operationalization. A field study was conducted to explore changes in the perceived importance of project planning and tactical factors across four stages in the project life cycle. The sample consisted of 408 managers currently involved in projects. It was found that the relative importance of planning and tactical factors varies across the project life cycle. Further, the perceived importance of these factors is contingent upon the type of success measure employed. When an efficiency success measure is used, planning factors are initially perceived to be of high importance but are overtaken by tactical issues as the project progresses through its life cycle. When ‘external’ success measures (perceived value of the project and client satisfaction) are employed, project planning factors dominate tactics throughout the project's life cycle. Finally, implications for managers are developed and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-327
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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