Title: Towards a theory of project failure

Authors: Marcus Lindahl, Alf Rehn

Addresses: Lindstedsvagen 30, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden. ' Lindstedsvagen 30, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Projects fail. This fact, which is commonsensical and objectively true, has been viewed within the sphere of project studies as either a pathological state to be avoided or a logical problem of goal definition. We will, in this paper, propose a different take on this, one that utilises social theory and political philosophy in order to position project failure in a more general context, and to analyse it as potentially beneficial. By introducing some theoretical perspectives – such as Georges Bataille|s |general economy|, Thorstein Veblen on conspicuous action and the political theories of Carl Schmitt – we thus wish to develop the ways in which project failures can be conceptualised, in ways that do not simply condemn such. Rather, we show how failure can be analysed and discussed as productive, without slipping into the vulgar relativism of |it all depends on perspective|.

Keywords: project failure; conceptual analysis; general economy; project theory; social theory; political philosophy; failure analysis.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2007.015000

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2007 Vol.2 No.3, pp.246 - 254

Published online: 30 Aug 2007 *

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