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The nature of risk in complex projects

Williams, Terry



© 2017 Project Management Institute, Inc. Risk analysis is important for complex projects; however, systemicity makes evaluating risk in real projects difficult. Looking at the causal structure of risks is a start, but causal chains need to include management actions, the motivations of project actors, and sociopolitical project complexities as well as intra-connectedness and feedback. Common practice based upon decomposition-type methods is often shown to point to the wrong risks. A complexity structure is used to identify systemicity and draws lessons about key risks. We describe how to analyze the systemic nature of risk and how the contractor and client can understand the ramifications of their actions.


Williams, T. (2017). The nature of risk in complex projects. Project management journal, 48(4), 55-66.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 27, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 1, 2021
Publication Date Aug 1, 2017
Deposit Date May 3, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 1, 2017
Journal Project Management Journal
Print ISSN 8756-9728
Electronic ISSN 1938-9507
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 4
Pages 55-66
Keywords Complexity; Systems thinking; Risk; Project risk analysis; Mapping
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Project management journal, 2017, v.48, issue 4


Article.pdf (445 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 by the Project Management Institute

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