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Perceived complexity of a project’s optimal work plan influences its likelihood of adoption by project managers

M Brokman-Meltzer, D Perez, R Gelbard

Project Management Journal 52 (5), 471-487



Project managers commonly adopt suboptimal work plans, even when optimal plans are readily accessible. This research identifies a factor that elicits this seemingly irrational behavior: the perceived complexity of the optimal work plan, as reflected in the plan’s Gantt chart representation. Four controlled experiments show that among experienced project managers presented with a work plan explicitly stated to be optimal, those who view a low-complexity plan are more likely to adopt the plan compared with project managers who view a high-complexity plan. Work-related stress triggered by exposure to the work plan is shown to mediate the effect.

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