Using critical success factors and Q methodology to discover perspectives on project risk management within a construction organisation

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Risk management is a vital process in the construction of large projects. It is necessary to protect the success of the project, the budget, the project timeline and the reputation of an organisation. Alongside the tools and techniques which exist to support risk management, it is also a process which depends on people’s opinions, decisions and how they follow procedures. This study sought to identify the perspectives which exist amongst a group of managers from a main contractor organisation with respect to what is important to risk management. First, a literature study was performed to identify the critical success factors (CSFs) of risk management. Next, Q methodology was used to collect data from 15 managers, five from each of the three different functional teams within the same construction project. The managers were asked to sort the CSFs, from least to most important, according to their opinion on what is important to project risk management. Finally, after the Q sort activity, each manager was interviewed and asked to motivate their choices. The main result of this research was the three perspectives discovered through the Q study. These perspectives are known as Experience and Belief, Procedures and Leaders and Culture and Communication. The names reflect the CSFs which the perspective judged to be most important. The perspectives contained six, five and three respondents respectively and there was one respondent who did not belong to any of the perspectives. On average, across all respondents, “project organisation risk culture” was ranked as the most important and “regular training to enhance risk management skills” was ranked as the least important. It was found to be borderline significant that four of the managers from the design team belonged to the perspective Procedures and Leaders. The results of the research were used to make recommendations to the organisation to improve their risk management. Future research could include repeating the study with a larger and more diverse group of respondents and investigating the links between perspectives and other personal characteristics such as gender and personality type.