An Integrated Approach to Learning from Project-Related Failures

Danstan Bwalya Chiponde*, Barry Gledson, David Greenwood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Project Based Organisations (PBOs) are used across economic sectors as a form of delivering benefits via projects or programmes. Unfortunately, they do not always achieve their intended outputs or outcomes, nor perform as-planned. Whenever PBOs do not successfully deliver, project-related failures (PRFs) may have occurred. These can be singular or multiple, and variable in size, but are typically attributed to the neglect or omission of expected or required project actions. PRFs can be relatively hidden or highly visible like, for instance those presently described in relation to the UK Crossrail infrastructure project, reported as being over one year in delay with £2 billion extra funds being needed. Whenever the failings of such cases are revealed, organisational learning, is usually encouraged as a means to improve long term delivery performance of PBOs. Regrettably there is limited research published in relation to PBOs learning arising from project-related failures, even less so within the construction sector. The purpose of this research was therefore to explore and understand the practices and behaviours of individual construction project-based actors as regards their approach to learning from project-related failures. To do this, exploratory research was undertaken, whereby semi-structured interviews were held obtaining qualitative data from various project actors drawn from a non-probability sample. Key results reveal how learning from project failures is rarely practised, and how the major barriers to learning include the nature of projects themselves, the negative perceptions around failure and the non-acceptance of failure due to a fear of being blamed or punished. In instances where learning was encouraged, the most commonly used methods involve end of project reports and project review meetings. The implication for PBOs are that negative perceptions of project failure and ‘the blame game’ must be circumvented to attain true organisational learning from project-related failure(s).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Proceedings of the 36th Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsLloyd Scott, Christopher J. Neilson
PublisherAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780995546332
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2020
Event36th Annual Conference on Association of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2020 - Virtual, Online, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sept 20208 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameARCOM 2020 - Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 36th Annual Conference 2020 - Proceedings


Conference36th Annual Conference on Association of Researchers in Construction Management, ARCOM 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityVirtual, Online


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