The Nature of Project Success

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the AIS SIG Philosophy Workshop


This paper investigates the ontological status of project success. The literature shows that success has historically been considered to be an objective property of a project, one that can be assessed and the status of the project as a success or failure determined. However, this approach is shown to have serious deficiencies in dealing with certain project results. As an alternative, this paper suggests that following the subjective view of project success; success should be considered as a politically determined social construction. The paper advocates using Archer’s Morphogenetic Social Theory (Archer 1995; Cuellar 2010b) to explanatory mechanism. Under that theory, success is conceptualized as an ideological social structure, which is arrived at via a morphogenetic sequence. An examination of Larsen and Myers’ (1997) case study under the various definitions shows the validity of this approach.

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