Project Failure and How to Learn From It
MetadataShow full item record
Organizations are increasingly relying on project teams to meet organizational needs and challenges of great strategic importance. Achieving projects with high performance is therefore vital. However, a large portion fail. Another aspect to this is that mistakes are repeated, over and over again; organizations do not learn from their projects. Previous literature on project failure and learning from failure, have not taken into account the team dynamics of the project teams when investigating reasons for failure and inability to learn. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate how team dynamics affect project outcomes, in terms of result and learning. Teams are an integral part of projects, and team dynamics are expected to influence on project performance and learning from projects. There are different project types, which require that project teams work in various ways to perform the tasks. In addition, there are different types of failures that originates from different errors, e.g., errors due to complex tasks or individuals carelessness. We propose that the different project types require teams with different team dynamics to be successful, and that some types of failures can be tracked back to the project team s team dynamics. Furthermore, research has identified several barriers to learning from project failure in the organization and within the project teams. We suggest that the team dynamics of the project team can help explain what barriers that exist, and thereby explain what learning outcome the organization has from a project failure. In order to evaluate the team dynamics of project teams a dynamic team theory was applied. We performed a multiple case study covering three projects, were two of the projects were conducted by the same project team. The last projects consisted of several sub-teams, were four of them were included in the study. Mixed methods were applied to study the projects, including document analysis, semi-structured interviews with project team members, direct and participant observation, and a survey. Results from the study showed that organizations should be aware of team dynamics when performing projects, as it can contribute to failure and have a major impact on the learning outcome of a project. Interestingly, the learning outcome of a project was found to be rather independent of the project result, while the organization was found to have a major impact. These findings suggest that team dynamics should be considered when investigating reasons for project failure and why organizations are not able to learn from projects.