Managing tipping point dynamics in complex construction projects

Timothy R.B. Taylor, David N. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Complex construction projects are vulnerable to tipping points. Tipping points are conditions that, when crossed, cause system behaviors to radically change performance. Previous research identified tipping point dynamics as capable of explaining the failure of some nuclear power plant construction projects. These dynamics can also threaten the success of other large, complex construction projects. The current work uses a dynamic project model to test policies for managing tipping point dynamics. The Limerick Unit 2 nuclear power plant project is used to test model usefulness. Sensitivity analysis reveals the rework fraction, strength of subsystem interdependence, and sensitivity of the project to schedule pressure as potential high-leverage points for policy design. The model is used to test policies for managing tipping points that were used to complete the Limerick Unit 2 nuclear power plant after a tipping point threatened project completion. Implications for construction project design and management and research opportunities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008


  • Change management
  • Dynamic models
  • Errors
  • Nuclear powerplants
  • Project management
  • Simulation models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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