Imagine for a moment a safety-critical project – the building of a new nuclear power plant, the safe disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste, the design and commissioning of a new gas turbine aircraft engine. These are all examples of projects that must be delivered predictably and safely. Yet these are complicated, multi-million pound endeavours which span several years and require the skilled efforts of many different professionals working across disparate organisations. The uncertainties inherent in these projects are legion and non-trivial. For example, what state will the radioactive waste that has been securely held in a storage canister really be in when we open it up for the first time in 40 years, or how do we design a submarine nuclear propulsion system that must be operational for 30 years with the bare minimum of maintenance access. The challenge facing individuals involved in these projects is to identify, make sense of, assess and act in the face of these uncertainties in a manner that minimises the impact on the delivery of the project. This is the scope of my PhD research, which I started in 2011 and aim to complete before the end of 2016. My goal is to shed light on how individuals – including but not limited to project managers – identify and make sense of these project uncertainties.
You can read about my research as it evolves under the My Publications tab in this blog
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