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Structuring risk into projects


Paul Bannerman



Experience tells us that projects can and do fail for many reasons. However, it would be most unfortunate if the propensity to fail was structured into the design of a project before it even started. This paper extends recent research on structure-related risk which suggests that the organizational entities involved in projects, including the project itself, bring with them certain risks associated with their structural forms that can influence the performance and outcomes of projects. These risks can predispose a project to problems from the outset of its activities. The paper extends this research by considering how structure-related risks might arise and be managed in practice. Furthermore, since management of such risks tends to fall outside of the capabilities of the project and project manager, a new role for project governance is proposed in mediating and mitigating these risks. The propositions are illustrated with project examples and a case study. The arguments are presented within the application domain of software development projects but, conceptually, the principles can also be applied to other application domains such as engineering, construction and defense. The research is still in its infancy but early results point to a potentially significant source of risk that has previously been overlooked.

BibTeX Entry

    publisher        = {Project Management Institute (PMI)},
    author           = {Bannerman, Paul},
    month            = jul,
    year             = {2010},
    keywords         = {risk management, organization structure, project governance, alignment},
    title            = {Structuring Risk into Projects},
    booktitle        = {Project Management Institute (PMI) Research Conference 2010},
    pages            = {27},
    address          = {Washington, USA}


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