Perspectives of project failure by executives and project managers wins prize for Vanderbilt researchers

An article examining the factors used by public service personnel and their contractors to reach the decision to terminate a project won the second-place award for best paper at the Academy of Management meeting in Philadelphia recently.

Awards are given annually for the top three articles published in the prestigious Journal of Operations Management that year.

David Dilts, professor and director of the Engineering Management Program, and Ken Pence, assistant professor of the practice of engineering management, found that executives weigh termination factors and costs differently than managers do. “Therefore,” they write, “care must be taken in how information is presented to each type of decision-maker.”

“One interesting finding is that executives and project managers don’t view the critical reasons for failure the same way,” Dilts says. “Executives are much more willing to provide additional labor-hours to ensure that a project comes in on time than project managers believe.”

The professors currently are expanding their research into projects that involve high-risk decision making by public safety officials and police.

Their award-winning article was published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of Operations Management (Volume 24, Issue 4, pp. 378-296).