In their 2011 paper titled “Managing the Institutional Context for Projects” Morris and Geraldi raised the importance of the institutional context in the management of projects. Building on that, this study proposes the conceptualisation and understanding of project-related failure and success through an institutional perspective. This is based on an understanding that projects are distinctive, time-constrained, undertakings meant to generate benefits for all associated stakeholders whose perception of failure varies. Yet, little attention has been given to explaining how such perception is influenced by underlying institutional contexts. Therefore, the aim of the study was to examine the knowledge base for contrasting perspectives of project managers and construction managers around project-related failure in light of the institutional perspectives. To do this, a systematic literature review (SLR) approach was adopted. The first finding of note from this SLR is the dominance of interest in and from the UK Construction Industry (UKCI). This may be attributed to the culture and structure of the UKCI driven by the autonomy and authority of organisations such as the National Audit Office (NAO). The findings further reveal that in the general Project Management (PM) literature, considerations of failure are more introspective and discussed more in terms of project outputs with the causes associated with project management limitations. Considering the three levels discussed by Morris and Geraldi (2011) the PM perspective of failure and success can be associated with the technical level of analysis of project outputs. In contrast, the Construction Management (CM) literature focuses predominantly on specific failures, and on external failures. Causes are more attributed to profitability and the wider supply chain and this can be associated with Morris’s strategic level focus on effectiveness and value. The results from this study call for a systemic approach by heeding the call of Prof. Peter Morris to consider the institutional context level in the perception and analysis of failure instead of solely focusing on output or technical level parameters of time cost and quality.
Keywords: Project Failure, Project Manager, Construction, Perception, Institutional Theory