Using cognitive maps for modeling project success

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Turkey

Approval Date: 2007




In order to evaluate a project as successful or not, initially, the questions of “what are the factors affecting the success” and “according to whom and which criteria should the success be measured” should be answered. Both the factors and their influences vary depending on a project’s specific characteristics, different environmental factors affecting it, and different parties involved. These factors are not independent of each other and the interrelationship between them should be investigated as a whole in order to model the project success. Moreover, parties involved in a project usually have different objectives and the performance indicators used to measure project success differ according to company priorities, preferences and attitudes. Thus, there exists a need to develop a project success model that contains the interrelationships between factors such as risks, decisions, and strategies, project success criteria, objectives and the relations of the factors with the objectives. A cognitive map (CM) is a strong visual tool to reflect the beliefs and knowledge of people about a situation or domain, identifying the causes, effects and the relations between them. This qualitative technique being enhanced by quantifiable properties makes it appropriate to be utilized to model the project success. As a result, the objective of this study is to demonstrate the application of CMs as a powerful tool for modeling project success. It is hypothesized that CMs can be effectively used to model the factors affecting success of a construction project, to reflect the interrelations between project success factors, to demonstrate the different objectives of parties involved in a project and show how the project success can be defined differently, by different parties. This technique is applied to a real construction project realized in Turkey. CMs of two consortium contractors and client organization involved in the project are constructed and the differences between the perceptions of three parties are revealed by content and structural analyses. Finally, the benefits and shortcomings of using CMs for modeling project success are discussed by referring to case study findings.