The Corruption of Project Governance Through Normalization of Deviance

Kate Davis, Jeffrey K. Pinto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Organizational mistakes and accidents have a long history in practice and have been studied extensively in the engineering and organizational literature. One of the primary causes of persistent organizational error is the existence of deviance; i.e., behavior violating organizational norms. We examined the behaviors and motivations of project team members in situations where deviant behaviors had been accepted and normalized as part of project operations. We used NVivo content analysis to classify the narratives of 52 project professionals as they related to normalization of deviance (NoD) situations, their perceived causes, and subsequent outcomes for their organizations. Our findings suggest that NoD occurs in three primary dimensions: project processes, relationships, and outcomes. We discuss the implications of these findings for project organization performance improvement and avoiding NoD situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2447-2461
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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