Projects and Complexity



Book Title:  Projects and Complexity
Authors: Francesco Varanini and Walter Ginevri
Publisher: CRC Press
List Price: $74.96
Format: Hardcover, 250 pages
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 9781466502796
Reviewer: Christine Evelyn Gwaze
Review Date: December 2023



Projects and Complexity is a book that explores the relationship between project management and complexity theory. This book delves into the multifaceted nature of project management, offering a comprehensive guide for navigating through the challenges and intricacies inherent in complex projects. It aims to provide project managers and practitioners with a new perspective and approach to deal with complex projects in a dynamic and uncertain environment. The book is edited by Francesco Varanini and Walter Ginevri, two experienced project management consultants and researchers, who have gathered contributions from 18 authors from different countries and backgrounds, such as academia, industry, and consulting.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is meticulously structured, providing a logical flow that guides the reader through various aspects of managing complex projects. The book is divided into three parts, each consisting of four chapters. The first part introduces the concepts and principles of complexity theory and how they can be applied to project management. The second part presents four case studies of complex projects from different domains, such as construction, software development, aerospace, and social innovation. The third part discusses the implications and challenges of adopting a complexity perspective for project management practice and research.

The book also includes a foreword by David Cleland, a renowned project management scholar and author, and an afterword by Roland Gareis, a distinguished project management professor and consultant. The book also provides a list of references, a glossary of terms, and an index.


The book offers a comprehensive and insightful overview of the current state of the art of complexity theory and its applications to project management. This multidimensional approach is crucial for understanding the true nature of complexity in projects. It covers a wide range of topics, such as:

  • The origins and evolution of complexity theory and its main concepts, such as emergence, self-organization, adaptation, and co-evolution.
  • The differences and similarities between complexity theory and other approaches to project management, such as traditional, agile, and systemic.
  • The seven principles of complexity theory and how they can be used to understand and manage projects, such as recognizing the interdependence of project elements, embracing uncertainty and diversity, and fostering learning and innovation.
  • The four case studies of complex projects and how they illustrate the application of complexity theory in practice, such as dealing with multiple stakeholders, coping with changing requirements, and creating value for the customer and the society.
  • The benefits and challenges of adopting a complexity perspective for project management, such as enhancing project performance, improving project governance, and developing project competencies.

Highlights: What I liked!

What I liked about the book is that it provides a balanced and holistic view of complexity theory and project management. It does not present complexity theory as a panacea or a replacement for other project management approaches, but rather as a complement and a catalyst for improvement. It also does not shy away from the difficulties and limitations of applying complexity theory to project management, but rather acknowledges and addresses them with honesty and pragmatism…


To read entire Book Review, click here

How to cite this work: Gwaze, C. E. M. (2024). Projects and Complexity, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/pmwj137-Jan2024-Gwaze-Projects-and-Complexity-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Christine Evelyn Miyedzo Gwaze

Irving, Texas, USA


 Born on February 9, 1968, in Wedza, Zimbabwe, Christine has cultivated a unique blend of African heritage and Western education, culminating in a Bachelor’s Degree from Dallas Baptist University. As a mother of two daughters and a grandmother to two boys, she balances family life with a dynamic career that has seen her excel as a Software Engineer, Project Manager, and Scrum Master.

Christine’s expertise lies in Agile methodologies, strategic planning, and data governance, skills that have propelled her to the forefront of leading Agile transformations and ensuring efficient project delivery. Beyond the corporate world, she is deeply passionate about community engagement, dedicating time as a volunteer and mentor with the PMI Dallas Chapter where she guides and inspires the next generation of project management professionals. She can be contacted at evelyngwa@gmail.com

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the PM World Journal and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide books to the PM World Journal Editor; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter where they are offered free to PMI members who agree to provide a review within 45 days; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. Reviewers can normally claim PDU’s for PMP recertification (or continuing education credits for other certifications) upon publication of their book reviews.

If you would like us to publish a book review or are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact editor@pmworldjournal.com



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