A System-of-Systems Framework for Assessment of Resilience in Complex Construction Projects Dissertation

(2016). A System-of-Systems Framework for Assessment of Resilience in Complex Construction Projects . 10.25148/etd.FIDC000766

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Silvia, Adam M


  • This study examined technocracy in Haiti in the Cold War era. It showed how Haitian and non-Haitian technicians navigated United States imperialism, Soviet ideology, and postcolonial nationalism to implement bold utopian visions in a country oppressed by poverty and dynastic authoritarianism. Throughout the mid-to-late twentieth century, technicians lavished Haiti with plans to improve the countryside, the city, the workplace, and the home. This study analyzed those plans and investigated the motivations behind them. Based on new evidence discovered in the private correspondence between Haitian, American, and Western European specialists, it questioned the assumption that technocracy was captivated by high-modernist ideology and US hegemony. It exposed how many technicians were inspired by a utopian desire to create a just society—one based not only on technical knowledge but also on humanist principles, such as liberty and equality. Guided by the utopian impulse, technicians occasionally disobeyed policymakers who wished to promote modernization and the capitalist world-economy. In many cases, however, they also upset the Haitian people, who believed technocracy was too exclusive. This study concluded that technicians were empowered by expertise but unable to build the utopias they envisioned because they were constantly at odds with both policymakers at the top and the people whose lives they planned.

  • Uncertainty is a major reason of low efficiency in construction projects. Traditional approaches in dealing with uncertainty in projects focus on risk identification, mitigation, and transfer. These risk-based approaches may protect projects from identified risks. However, they cannot ensure the success of projects in environments with deep uncertainty. Hence, there is a need for a paradigm shift from risk-based to resilience-based approaches. A resilience-based approach focuses on enhancing project resilience as a capability to cope with known and unknown uncertainty. The objective of this research is to fill the knowledge gap and create the theory of resilience in the context of complex construction project systems.

    A simulation approach for theory development was adopted in this research. The simulation framework was developed based on theoretical elements from complex systems and network science. In the simulation framework, complex projects are conceptualized as meta-networks composed of four types of nodes: human agents, information, resources, and tasks. The impacts of uncertainty are translated into perturbations in nodes and links in project meta-networks. Accordingly, project resilience is investigated based on two components: project vulnerability (i.e., the decrease in meta-network efficiency under uncertainty) and adaptive capacity (i.e., the speed and capability to recover from uncertainty). Simulation experiments were conducted using the proposed framework and data collected from three complex commercial construction project cases. Different scenarios related to uncertainty-induced perturbations and planning strategies in the cases were evaluated through the use of Monte Carlo simulation.

    Three sets of theoretical constructs related to project resilience were identified from the simulation results: (1) Project vulnerability is positively correlated with exposure to uncertainty and project complexity; (2) Project resilience is positively correlated with adaptive capacity, and negatively correlated with vulnerability; (3) Different planning strategies affect project resilience either by changing the level of vulnerability or adaptive capacity. The effectiveness of a planning strategy is different in different projects. Also, there is a diminishing effect in effectiveness when adopting multiple planning strategies. The results highlighted the significance of the proposed framework in providing a better understanding of project resilience and facilitating predictive assessment and proactive management of project performance under uncertainty.

publication date

  • June 2, 2016


  • Caribbean
  • Cold War
  • Complex Construction Projects
  • Development
  • Diplomacy
  • Family Planning
  • Metanetwork
  • Resilience
  • Simulation
  • System-of-Systems
  • Technocracy
  • United Nations
  • United States
  • Urban Planning
  • Utopia

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)