Validation through cases

The validation of our point of view cannot be done by designing a controlled laboratory experiment. We have to resort to inductive investigation of carefully selected cases. Our point of view is that straightforward, predictable projects require a different managerial approach than complex projects involving a lot of uncertainty and that a mismatch between them results in:

1. Loss of functionality;

2. Overruns in time and money.

This point of view is exposed in Table 5.1 below. We are, of course, interested in particular in the lower line of the Table: mismatch or appropriate matching in the case of complex, unpredictable situations, SII. Will an appropriate matching, SII, PII, indeed yield satisfactory functionality and no or only limited overruns in time and money? So, the assumption to be tested is:

• unsatisfactory functionality;

• substantial overruns in time and money.

• satisfactory functionality;

• no or only limited overruns in time and money.

Cases related to situation 1 - lessons from failure - are described in Chapters 6, 7,8:

1. Former KLM office in The Hague;

2. Expansion of Schiphol Airport Amsterdam;

3. The office for the broadcasting organisation VPRO.

These cases describe post-mortem analyses based on material collected by graduation students of the authors.

As to situation 2 - lessons from success - we have chosen the following approach:

1. Select some real life large construction projects characterised by a high degree of complexity and uncertainty (SII) which yielded satisfactory functionality (high degree of stakeholders? satisfaction) and no or only limited overruns in time and money.

Table 5.1 Matching of managerial approach with nature of project

Project management style

Best practices PI

PI Best practices PII

Nature of Simple, predictable Appropriate project situation SI


Complex, unpredictable Mismatch situation SII


2. Investigate whether, to a high degree, the project managers involved actually managed the overall project in a Pll-manner. If so, the hypothesis is confirmed.

Two cases were selected:

1. Shell-Mitsubishi, Singapore, a petrochemical process plant;

2. Renovation of a central part of the city The Hague, an urban redevelopment project.

These cases, described in Chapters 9 and 10, are largely based on interviews with the project managers concerned.

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