Week 3 Article Critique
Use the Campbellsville University Library databases to do research on peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic of Project Management (do not use Google or Wikipedia). Choose an article that includes all parts listed in the Article Critique Rubric located on the Moodle course page. Download the file in the attachment below to type in your responses, then upload the completed file.*After downloading the word document below, type your responses directly into the word file.
KESHAVARZIAN, S., & SILVIUS, G. (2022). The Perceived Relationship between Sustainability in Project Management and Project Success. Journal of Modern Project Management, 9(3), 66–85.
*Students should type directly into the chart below.
Parts of Article Critique
Your First and Last Name
Author(s) First and Last Name
Publication Date: Year (within last 10 years)
Journal Pages (range, ex. 1-10)
Article Abstract: highlight and copy the exact abstract from the article chosen and paste the abstract here
Takeaway: In a bulleted list, write complete sentences about three things you have learned from the article.
*The takeaway should be written in your own words with no similarity.
JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JANUARY/APRIL 2022#28 ISSUE VOL. 09 NUM. 03
DOI NUMBER: 10.19255/JMPM02805
Abstract: Sustainable project management is one of the most important
global project management trends today. And despite several studies
addressing the relationship between sustainable project management and
success, this relationship is still inadequately addressed. Following the
suggestion that project success is just as much influenced by subjective
perceptions as it is by objective performance data, this study focuses on the
subjective perception of the relationship between the dimensions of
sustainable project management and the criteria of project success.
Based on a quantitative survey-based research design, the study found a
positive perceived relationship between sustainable project management
and all criteria of project success. However, the participants of the study
differentiated this positive relationship for the different criteria of project
success. The study also found that practitioners perceive sustainable project
management as a single integrated construct and do not differentiate
between the different dimensions of sustainable project management.
W I T T E N B O R G U N I V E R S I T Y O F A P P L I E D S C I E N C E S , T H E N E T H E R L A N D S ,
A N D U N I V E R S I T Y O F J O H A N N E S B U R G , S O U T H A F R I C A
BETWEEN SUSTAINABILITY IN PROJECT
MANAGEMENT AND PROJECT SUCCESS
Keywords: Sustainability; Project management; Project success
W I T T E N B O R G U N I V E R S I T Y O F A P P L I E D S C I E N C E S , T H E N E T H E R L A N D S
The awareness that sustainable development of society
requires a more conscious use of natural resources, and a
balance between economic, environmental and social
impacts, is now firmly established in businesses and
organizations. The 2019 ‘State of ‘Sustainability’ business
survey indicates that CEOs are increasingly pursuing the
integration of sustainability into the strategies and practices
of their businesses (BSR/GlobeScan, 2019). This integration
impacts a wide range of functional areas in the organization,
such as strategy, research and development, human
resources management, supply chain management and
finance (Tulder et al., 2014). The transition towards more
sustainable business practices requires organizational
change, in which projects play an instrumental role
(Marcelino-Sádaba et al., 2015).
The pivotal role of projects in the transition towards
sustainability of businesses, organizations and society
require a reconsideration of the way projects are planned,
organized, executed, managed, and governed (Silvius and
Schipper, 2014). This sustainability perspective on project
management (Silvius, 2017) is addressed in a growing
number of studies (Aarseth et al., 2017; Sabini et al., 2019;
Silvius and Schipper, 2014). An open question, however, is
how sustainability impacts project success (Silvius and
Schipper, 2016). Considering sustainability in project
management may increase the quality of the deliverable of
the project and/or the satisfaction of stakeholders, but
considering sustainability also comes at a price (Silvius et
al., 2012). Khalifeh et al. (2019), therefore, conclude that the
relationship between sustainability and project success is still
inadequately addressed in the literature and that more
research is needed. It is this gap in the literature that the
study reported in this paper addresses.
One of the issues in studies on the relationship between
sustainable project management and project success is the
operationalization of success. Studies on project success
point out that success is multidimensional (Ika, 2009),
evolving over time (Pinto and Slevin, 1988; Shenhar et al.,
2001) and perceived differently by different stakeholders
(Prabhakar, 2008). PS is therefore not easy to measure.
Pirozzi (2021) points out that, perhaps even more important
than the objective measurement of success, the subjective
perception of project success may be essential. In line with
this, Silvius and de Graaf (2019) found that the more
favorable the project manager beliefs the outcome of
considering sustainability in the project will be, the more
likely he or she is willing to consider sustainability. For the
consideration of sustainability in project management,
therefore, the perceived impact on project success plays an
important role. The study reported in this paper, therefore,
focuses on exploring the perceived relationship between
sustainable project management and success. This focus
presents a novel approach compared to the earlier studies
on this topic, and the therefore makes a contribution to the
understanding of the aspects and effects of integrating
sustainability into project management.
The research question of the study was formulated as How
does considering sustainability in project management
influence the perceived success of projects?
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. In the
following paragraph, the main variables of the study,
sustainable project management (SPM) and project success
(PS) will be described based on the literature on these
topics. The largest part of the review of the literature will be
devoted to the discussion of earlier studies on the
relationship between sustainable project management and
project success. The design and methodology of the study
are revealed in the third paragraph of this paper, after which
the following paragraph will discuss the findings and the data
analysis. The paper will be concluded with a reflection on the
findings and the answering of the research question.
2. BACKGROUND LITERATURE
In this paragraph, the main variables of our research
question, SPM and PS will be explored. We used Google
Scholar as the search engine in our search for relevant
literature. As PS is a frequently studied topic in academic
literature, we relied on earlier published literature reviews on
the topic, specifically Ika (2009), to guide the
operationalization of this variable. On SPM, a number of
recently published structured literature reviews, specifically
Silvius and Schipper (2014), Chofreh et al. (2019), Sabini et
al. (2019) and Kiani Mavi et al. (2021), provided a solid
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foundation for the understanding of the concept of SPM.
For the analysis of literature that specifically focuses on the
relationship between SPM and PS, we formulated a series of
search strings that were all variations of the main search
string “”PROJECT+SUCCESS+SUSTAINABILITY””. We
expanded our search based on the sources used in the
publications that were found. In total 66 publications were
identified that based on their abstracts, were reduced to 18
relevant studies. After reading the full papers, our analysis
focused on 15 articles that specifically addressed the
relationship between SPM and PS variables.
This paragraph will first discuss the characteristics of SPM
shown in the literature. Following this, the concept of
success in projects and project management will be
discussed. The literature review will be completed with a
discussion of earlier studies on the relationship between
SPM and PS.
2.1 Sustainability Project Management
SPM is defined as “the planning, monitoring and controlling
of project delivery and support processes, with consideration
of the environmental, economic and social aspects of the
lifecycle of the ‘project’s resources, processes, deliverables
and effects, aimed at realizing benefits for stakeholders, and
performed in a transparent, fair and ethical way that includes
proactive stakeholder participation” (Silvius and Schipper,
2014). This definition integrates the consideration of familiar
sustainability concepts, such as the ‘Triple Bottom ‘Line’
(TBL) of economic, social and environmental perspectives
(Elkington, 1994), lifecycle orientation (Labuschagne and
Brent, 2005) and stakeholder orientation (Freeman, 1984)
into project management, which is defined as the planning,
monitoring and controlling of project delivery and support
SPM is considered one of the most important global project
management trends today (Alvarez-Dionisi et al., 2016;
Gemünden, 2016) and several authors (Silvius and
Schipper, 2014; Aarseth et al., 2017; Sabini et al., 2019)
report a growing number of studies that address the topic.
From this emerging literature base, it appears that the
relationship between sustainability and project management
can be interpreted in two ways (Sabini et al., 2019; Silvius
“Sustainability by the project”: the sustainability of the
deliverable or result that the project realizes;
“Sustainability of the project”: the sustainability of the
delivery and management processes of the project.
and Schipper, 2015). These two interpretations are
characterized by Huemann and Silvius (2017) as:
In Sustainability by the project, sustainability is mainly
considered with regards to the deliverable or result of the
project. Frameworks of sustainability are used to define or
assess the content related aspects of the project (Silvius and
Schipper, 2014), such as the specifications and design of the
‘project’s deliverable (Aarseth et al., 2017; Brones et al.,
2014) materials used (Akadiri, 2015) benefits to be achieved
(Silvius et al., 2012; Weninger and Huemann, 2013), quality
and success criteria (Martens and Carvalho, 2017). Studies
on the integration of sustainability into project management
that take this content related perspective, often focus on
operationalizing the TBL concept (Elkington, 1994), by
developing sets of indicators on the different perspectives
(For example, Bell and Morse, 2003; Edum-Fotwe and Price,
2009; Fernández-Sánchez and Rodríguez-López, 2010;
Keeble et al., 2003; Labuschagne and Brent, 2008; Martens
and Carvalho, 2017).
In Sustainability of the project studies, the sustainability
perspective is applied to the processes of project delivery,
management and governance, such as the identification and
engagement of stakeholders (Eskerod and Huemann, 2013),
the process of procurement in the project (Molenaar and
Sobin, 2010), the development of the business case
(Weninger and Huemann, 2013), the monitoring of the
project (Sánchez, 2015), the identification and management
of project risks (Silvius, 2016) the communication in and by
the project (Pade et al,.2008; Barendsen et al., 2021) and
the selection and organization of the project team (Silvius
and Schipper, 2014).
In one of the first publications on sustainability and project
management, Labuschagne and Brent (2005) link the two
interpretations, Sustainability by the project and
Sustainability of the project, by elaborating on the lifecycle
orientation of sustainability. Project management logically
considers the life cycle of a project, from its initiation to its
closure. However, Labuschagne and Brent argue that from a
sustainability perspective, project management should not
only consider the life cycle of the project, but also of the
deliverable or result the project realizes, for example a
change in products, assets, systems, processes or behavior.
This deliverable, in their words: the “asset”, should also be
considered over its full life cycle, for example: design–
the context Labuschagne and Brent studied, this asset would
in its “operate” phase, produce products or services that
would have a life cycle on their own. Considering
sustainability in a project would therefore suggest that all
three lifecycles, “project life cycle”, “asset life cycle” and
“product life cycle”, are considered, as these lifecycles
interact and influence each other. The definition of
sustainable project management referenced above, refers to
these interacting lifecycles by stating that in sustainable
project management the sustainability perspective is applied
to the life cycles of “the project’s resources, processes,
deliverables and effects” (Silvius and Schipper, 2014).
2.2 Project Success
The concept of success in projects or project management is
one of the most studied concepts in project management
research (Ika, 2009). In the literature, a distinction is made
between project success criteria and project success factors.
Project success criteria are the measures used to measure
and judge the success or failure of a project (Müller and
Jugdev, 2012). They may also be referred to as the
performance indicators of the project. Project success
factors are the elements of a project which, when influenced,
increase the likelihood of success (Müller and Jugdev,
2012). These are the input factors or circumstances that
make success more likely.
The study reported in this paper focuses on the perceived
impact of considering sustainability, as an input factor, on
project success, as a resulting performance of the project.
Therefore, we will elaborate in this section on the criteria and
variables of measuring project success: the project success
Few people would disagree with the statement that project
success is interpretable in many ways. It is, simply put, a
rather “elusive concept” (Prabhakar, 2008). Most early
research on project success seems to emphasize the three
traditional criteria of success: realizing the deliverable of the
project according to specifications within the agreed
schedule and budget (Albert et al., 2017). This threesome of
success criteria, quality, schedule/time and cost/budget,
sometimes also referred to as the ‘iron triangle’, remains
often used, “despite the fact that this method is currently
subject to widespread criticism” (Bakker et al., 2010).
Starting around the early 80s of last century, however, also
other criteria of success emerged from literature, such as the
benefits that the use of the project’s deliverable generates
for the user organization, or the “effectiveness of the project
from the perspective of the stakeholder” (Jugdev and Müller,
2005). Ika (2009) analyzed the development of criteria used
to assess project success, as visualized in Figure 1.
FIGURE 1 EVOLUTION OF PROJECT SUCCESS
CRITERIA (BASED ON IKA, 2009).
From the overview in Figure 1, it appears that the criteria of
PS evolved from the iron triangle of time, cost and quality to
a more holistic set of criteria that also included the benefits
that the project generates and the satisfaction of
stakeholders. In addition to the success criteria identified by
Ika, Almahmoud et al. (2012) conclude that criteria for
health, safety, and environmental performance should be
included in the assessment of PS. Sustainability, therefore,
may be starting to be included in the criteria for PS.
2.3 The Relationship between SPM and PS
Following the distinction made above between project
success factors and success criteria, the publications that
relate SPM to PS also can be distinguished in these two
perspectives. For example, Michaelides et al. (2014) and
Daneshpour (2015) conclude that sustainability should be
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JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JAN/APR 2022
considered a critical success factor for projects, whereas
Kometa et al. (1995); Lim and Mohamed (1999); Chan and
Chan (2004) and Almahmoud et al. (2012) assert that
sustainability-related aspects should be included in the
criteria for PS.
Despite this suggestion that considering sustainability should
be considered as a factor or criterion for success, the actual
relationship between SPM and PS has only received limited
coverage in the emerging academic literature on
sustainability in project and project management. Dubois and
Silvius (2020) provide an overview of studies that specifically
address the relationship between SPM and PS. Table 1
elaborates on their overview by presenting the 15 articles
that our literature search delivered.
Table 1 shows that most of the initial studies were
conceptual in nature. For example, Mishra et al. (2011) link
PS to ethics in business. They conclude that “The project
manager should make sure that he is completing the project
while keeping the ethical standards and social impact in
mind”. Craddock (2013) also links PS to business and
therefore aligns the criteria of PS with business excellence
models, such as the European Foundation for Quality
Management (EFQM) model. And as one of the EFQM
model’s fundamental concepts of excellence is “Taking
responsibility for a sustainable future”, he concludes that
sustainability should be integrated in the criteria for PS and
that SPM would therefore positively impact PS.
The other conceptual studies, Martens and Carvalho (2014)
and Silvius and Schipper (2016), both build up a conceptual
model of the relationship between SPM and PS that later
was used in empirical studies (in Martens and Carvalho,
2016b, resp. Khalilzadeh et al., 2016). Based on their
conceptual model, Silvius and Schipper (2016) also provided
a conceptual mapping of the different relationships between
the dimensions of SPM and the criteria of PS. This mapping
showed that most of the relationships are expected to be
positive, however, the expected relationship between SPM
and the PS criteria time and budget are labelled “uncertain”.
The rationale behind the uncertain effect of SPM on two of
the three iron triangle criteria of project success comes from
the expectation that a more sustainable project may require
additional investments, for example in better materials
(Packard Foundation, 2002), that are projected to deliver a
benefit in the medium to long term from lower operation
costs. However, these future benefits are by nature
uncertain, where the higher investment is not uncertain. In
some cases, the higher investment may therefore result in
the project not being taken beyond the initial concept and
design phases (Pearce, 2008).
Besides this assumed higher investment risk, incorporating
environmental and social considerations into projects
suggests extra requirements and specifications (Maltzman
and Shirley, 2010; Taylor, 2010), which may increase the
complexity of the project. For example, Hwang and Ng
(2013) conclude that incorporating sustainability in
construction projects makes planning harder, causes more
variations in design, causes difficulty in selecting
subcontractors, causes uncertainty in the required materials
and equipment, requires more coordination with different
parties, and leads to more unexpected circumstances at
project closure. This increases the pressure on project
managers and decision makers (Knight and Jenkins, 2009).
Moreover, it has been argued that incorporating
sustainability raises the level of expectations of stakeholders
of the project (Marcelino-Sádaba et al., 2015) and may
increase tensions between them (Brandoni and Polonara,
2012; De Brucker et al., 2013; Singh et al., 2007; Tam et al.,
2007). Therefore, the expected impact of SPM on the iron
triangle criteria of PS is considered uncertain.
Next to the conceptual studies, Table 1 also shows 10
empirical studies on the relationship between SPM and PS.
Table 2 presents how these studies define or operationalize
the variables SPM and PS, and what the studies concluded.
PS is more than the iron triangle.
The operationalization of SPM is diverse
From the studies presented in Table 2, a couple of
observations can be made.
The studies listed in Table 2, mostly operationalize PS in a
holistic set of criteria that cover both the traditional ‘iron
triangle’ criteria of project success, time – quality – budget,
as well as criteria related to the project’s deliverable and the
benefits this deliverable enables. This is in line with the
evolution of PS criteria that Ika (2009) observed.
In most of the empirical studies, the TBL perspectives of
economic dimension, environmental dimension and social
dimension, are recognizable in the operationalization of
SPM. This is in line with the observations of Silvius and
Schipper (2014) that concluded that the TBL was the most
used concept of sustainability in studies on SPM. However,
the same authors concluded that SPM is more than
considering the TBL perspectives. SPM also includes
dimensions that are derived from the literature on (corporate)
TABLE 1. PUBLISHED STUDIES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPM AND PS.
Table 2. Overview of empirical studies on the relationship between SPM and PS. (continue)
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JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JAN/APR 2022
The relationship between SPM and PS is mostly
social responsibility (Silvius, 2017). Based on this broader
understanding of SPM, Silvius and Schipper (2014)
developed nine dimensions of SPM that are also used in a
number of studies on the relationship between SPM and PS.
In line with the analysis of Khalifeh et al. (2019) the overview
provided in Table 2 shows support for the conclusion that
SPM supports PS, and that no negative impacts of SPM
were observed. However, the limitations of the available
studies, lead Khalifeh et al. (2019) to comment that the
relationship between SPM and PS is still inadequately
addressed in the literature and that more research is
needed. Since this comment, four more empirical studies
have been published that all concluded a positive correlation
between SPM and PS. However, whether this empirical
evidence is sufficient to convince project managers and
project owners about the positive effects of SPM is still
unknown. And in addition, it should be noted that the
perception of the relationship between SPM and PS is not
Studies mostly focus on traditional project industries.
Sustainability is about balancing or harmonizing social,
environmental and economic interests
Sustainability is about both short-term and long-term
With regards to the industries covered in the empirical
studies, the traditional project industries, such as
construction and oil & gas, show up more prominently than,
for example, information technology or financial services
3. RESEARCH STRATEGY
3.1 Research approach and model
The authors choose a quantitative survey-based research
design for the investigation of the perceived relationships
between SPM and PS. The conceptual model of the study
was taken from the studies of Silvius and Schipper (2016)
and Khalilzadeh et al. (2016). In this model, SPM is
operationalized in nine dimensions of sustainability in project
management, that was developed by Silvius and Schipper
(2014) in the first structured literature review on the topic:
TABLE 2. OVERVIEW OF EMPIRICAL STUDIES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPM AND PS.
Table 2. Overview of empirical studies on the relationship between SPM and PS. (continue)
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JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JAN/APR 2022
H1. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and more controlled
execution of the project as positive.
H2. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and completing the
project on time and within budget as positive.
H3. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and the project’s
deliverable is fit for purpose as positive.
H4. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and the realization of
Based on earlier studies the impact of SPM on the
product/benefits related criteria of PS is more positive than
on the iron triangle related criteria. The previous studies
therefore provide an indication that scenario C might be the
best depiction of the relationship between SPM and PS. The
study therefore adopts scenario C for the formulating the
hypotheses of this study. However, in the data analysis, all
four scenarios A – D will be considered, by analyzing the
internal consistency of both the SPM and the PS
The hypotheses for the study were formulated as:.
Sustainability is about local and global orientation
Sustainability is about values and ethics
Sustainability is about transparency and accountability
Sustainability is about stakeholder participation
Sustainability is about risk reduction
Sustainability is about eliminating waste
Sustainability is about consuming income, not capital
As these dimensions were developed by synthesizing a
broad array of publications on SPM, they provide a well-
developed conceptualization of sustainability in projects and
In the study PS was operationalized in six project success
criteria, that are summarized in Table 3 (Silvius and
These criteria summarize the criteria suggested in earlier
studies, including the frequently referenced works of Pinto
and Slevin (1988), Baccarini (1999), Atkinson (1999),
Shenhar et al. (2001), Nelson (2005) and Müller and Turner
The resulting conceptual model of the relationship between
SPM and PS is shown in Figure 2
TABLE 3. CRITERIA OF PROJECT SUCCESS (SILVIUS AND SCHIPPER, 2016)..
FIGURE 2. CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPM AND
PS (BASED ON SILVIUS AND SCHIPPER, 2016).
A. 54 hypotheses for all perceived relationships between
individual SPM dimensions and individual PS criteria.
B. Nine hypotheses for the relationships of the individual
dimensions of SPM with the overall concept of PS.
C. Six hypotheses for the relationships of the overall
concept of SPM with the individual criteria of PS.
D. One hypothesis for the perceived relationship
between overall concept of SPM and overall concept of
In this model, SPM is operationalized in the above
mentioned nine dimensions, and PS in six criteria, resulting
in 9 x 6 = 54 relationships between the different dimensions
of SPM and the different criteria of PS. And as our study was
aimed at exploring the perceived relationship between SPM
and PS, these 54 relationships provided the foundation for
the development of the questionnaire.
3.2 Hypothesis development
Based on the research model, the hypotheses on the
relationship between SPM and PS can be developed in four
H5. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and the satisfaction of
project’s stakeholders as positive.
H6. Project managers perceive the relationship between
sustainable project management and how the project
prepares the organization for its future as positive.
project’s benefits as planned in the business case as
Figure 3. shows the hypotheses plotted on the conceptual
model of the study.
The content section of the questionnaire contained nine
questions, Q8 – Q16, corresponding with the nine
dimensions of SPM, in which the respondent was asked to
express his or her perception between the particular
dimension of SPM and the six criteria of PS. The
relationships between SPM and PS were formulated as
statements expressing a positive effect of considering SPM,
on which the respondent was asked to indicate his consent
on a five-point Likert-type scale, ranging from strongly
disagree to strongly agree.
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Data collection was done internationally based on
convenience sampling. Assuming a total global population of
project managers of over one million individuals, the targeted
sample size was set at 384 for a 5% confidence interval at a
95% confidence level. Although a larger size of sample leads
to the less amount of probable errors for generalizing the
population, practical issues prevented the study to realize
this sample size. In total, 133 PMs were reached through
Table 4 presents an example of one of these question, the
one on the SPM dimension Stakeholder participation.
The questionnaire included two further sections with
descriptive questions. The first is about the demographics of
the respondent and the second about the projects the
respondent usually works in. Table 5 shows these questions
and the answer categories.
FIGURE 3. THE HYPOTHESES PLOTTED ON THE CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF THE STUDY.
TABLE 4. EXAMPLE OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN.
TABLE 5. DESCRIPTIVE QUESTIONS OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE.
LinkedIn and project management website, of which 132
provided useable answers. Based on the recommendations
of Reio and Shuck (2015), this was considered satisfactory.
The sample size of 132 delivered a confidence interval of
8.53%, at 95% confidence level, instead of the targeted 5%,
which is acceptable. For the validity of the data, respondents
with less than one year of experience in projects were
excluded. Table 6 presents the demographics of the sample.
TABLE 6. DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SAMPLE.
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projects in the sample shows a quite even distribution
amongst building and construction, organizational change,
R&D, IT and other projects, the overrepresentation of certain
industries in the sample is not considered a blocking
limitation for the analysis of the data from the sample.
More than half of the projects represented in the sample are
international, and the majority of projects has between 1 and
15 business partners.
3.5 Data analysis
The data from the content questions of the questionnaire
coded 1 to 5, thereby following the ‘interval lists’ view of
Likert-type scales (Carifio and Perla, 2008). SPSS software
was used for the analysis of the consistency of the SPM and
PS composites and the influence of the demographic and
work environment variables.
This paragraph presents the data analysis and findings of
the study. Section 4.1 presents the descriptive analysis of
the 54 perceived relationships between SPM and PS. In
section 4.2 the fit with our conceptual model will be analyzed
by testing the consistency of the SPM and PS composites.
Section 4.3 presents the inferential analysis of the
demographic and work environment variables.
4.1 Descriptive analysis
Figure 4 presents the overview of the participant’s
perception of the relationships between SPM and PS. The
relationships are shown in order of the perceived positive
impact of SPM on the individual criteria of PS. This figure
shows that the participants in the study in general perceive
the relationship between the dimensions of SPM and the
criteria of PS positively. All relationships showed a mean
score of between 3 and 4.2, which indicates that they agreed
with the statements that SPM increases the probability of
success. The study confirms the six hypotheses formulated
in section 3.2. SPM is perceived to relate positively with all
criteria of PS.
However, Figure 4 also shows that this positive relationship
between SPM and PS is not perceived equally strong for the
different criteria of PS. The perceived impact of SPM on the
different criteria of PS is summarized per criterion in Table 7.
This table ranks the different PS criteria in order of strongest
perceived relationship with SPM.
TABLE 6. DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SAMPLE.
Table 6 shows that the sample was male dominated, 82.6%
male respondents versus 17.4% female respondents, which
reflects the professional community of project managers, as
also appears from other studies (Silvius and de Graaf, 2019).
Regarding the age of respondents, the majority of the PMs
are in the age category of 45 to 54 years, and only 4 project
managers participated in this study are 65 years old or over.
Also, this pattern can be observed in other studies on project
management and may be an indication that project
management requires a certain level of knowledge gained
through work experience in other fields.
The experience in projects within the sample shows an even
distribution between 1 to 10 years of experience and more
than 10 years of experience, with the largest fractions of
participants being the ones with 1 to 5 years of experience
and the ones with more than 15 years of experience. This
provides a well-distributed basis of data for our study.
The industries that are represented in the sample skews
towards the sectors industry and energy, with the service
sectors being somewhat underrepresented. This might be
caused by the personal networks of the research team, as
convenience sampling was followed. However, as the type of
FIGURE 4. PERCEIVED RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN DIMENSIONS OF SPM
AND CRITERIA OF PS.
This table confirms the impression that arises from Figure 4.
The strongest perceived positive impact of SPM relates to
the PS criteria. The stakeholders of the project are satisfied
and The project prepares the organization for the future. The
weakest perceived relationships are related to the criterion.
The agreed project deliverable is completed on schedule and
T H E P E R C E I V E D R E L A T I O N S H I P . . . PAGE 81
JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JAN/APR 2022
SPM Composite internal consistency
The internal consistency analysis of the SPM dimensions
can be found in Table 9.
From this table, it can be concluded that the consistency of
the perceived relationships related to the individual
dimensions of SPM is on the majority of the SPM
dimensions’ moderate’. This indicates that the respondents
differentiated the perceived impacts of the dimensions of
SPM between the different criteria for PS.
A more detailed analysis shows that especially the
relationship with the PS criterion D. Project realizes its
benefits as planned in the business case is perceived
differently. For all SPM dimensions, the consistency
increases when the relationship with this PS criterion is
removed from the analysis. However, the resulting
Cronbach’s alpha values are still lower than the values for
the PS construct. An additional consideration is that
removing this business case criterion of PS from the
analysis, damages the completeness of the construct.
Discussion of the Scenarios
Based on the high internal consistency of the total set of 54
relationships (showing from the Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.919),
it might be concluded that scenario D (one hypothesis for the
perceived relationship between the overall concept of SPM
and overall concept of PS) depicts the perceived relationship
between SPM and PS best. However, studying the
relationship between SPM and PS as a single unspecified
relationship does not make a contribution to the
understanding of this relationship and how it is perceived by
project managers. Based on our analysis of the consistency
of the SPM and PS constructs, we conclude that scenario C,
in which SPM is considered as a single concept, but PS is
considered in six separate PS criteria, provides the best
depiction of the perceived relationship between SPM and PS
as appears from our study. Therefore, the conceptual model
of the study is confirmed, and the formulation of hypotheses
remains as developed in section 3.2.
4.3 Inferential Statistics Analyses
In order to investigate the influences of demographic
questions on findings, ANOVA tests were performed for all
seven demographic and work environment-related variables.
From this analysis it appeared that from all demographic
variables (Gender, Age and Experience) no significant
inferential effect was experienced. Also, the work
environment variables Type of project, Industry and
International did not show a significant interference. Only the
number of business partners showed a significant influence,
on the PS criterion: realization of the business objectives or
goals of the project. An explanation for this interference
could not be derived from the data. However, a potential
explanation could be that a higher number of business
partners adds complexity to the project, for example in
decision making with regards to the integration of
sustainability, which might hinder the realization of business
TABLE 7. PERCEIVED RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SPM AND PS, TOTALED PER PS CRITERION.
This finding is in line with the expected relationships between
SPM and PS formulated by Silvius and Schipper (2016). In
the model they developed, the expected relationship
between SPM and the iron triangle criteria of PS were
labelled ‘uncertain’. However, Khalilzadeh et al. (2016)
found, when testing the model of Silvius and Schipper, a
positive relationship between SPM and all criteria of PS.
Apparently, the perceptions and expectations of the project
managers on this point are underestimating the positive
effects of SPM.
4.2 Consistency analysis
In the development of hypotheses for the study, section 3.2.
discusses four potential scenarios for depicting the
relationship between SPM and PS. Based on the findings
from earlier studies, the study adopted scenario C,
consisting of six hypotheses for the relationships of the
overall concept of SPM with the individual criteria of PS. for
the formulation of hypotheses for this study. However, the
collected data allows us to test this scenario, based on a
consistency analysis of the SPM and PS constructs. For this
consistency analysis, the Cronbach’s alpha reliability
coefficient was calculated.
The consistency of the total set of 54 relationships showed a
Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.919, indicating the high internal
consistency of the questionnaire. A high Cronbach’s Alpha
on the 54 perceived relationships implies that the
participants see the relationship between SPM and PS as
one consistent relationship and they do not differ so much
between all 54 potential relationships between different
dimensions of SPM and criteria of PS. The respondents do
not consider this relationship in a very detailed or specified
way which is the indication of scenario D.
PS Composite internal consistency
In order to test the internal consistency of PS criteria, all six
criteria are tested for the consistency in the perceived
relationships with the nine sustainability dimensions,
resulting in a Cronbach’s alpha value for each criterion of
From this table 8, it shows that the Cronbach’s alpha
coefficient of all PS criteria is above 0.7, indicating that there
is a high consistency in the relationships of a specific PS
criterion with all nine dimensions of SPM. This shows that
the participants do not differentiate between the different
dimensions of SPM, but perceive SPM as a single ‘overall’
TABLE 8. CONSISTENCY ANALYSIS OF THE PS CRITERIA.
TABLE 9. CONSISTENCY ANALYSIS OF THE SPM DIMENSIONS.
T H E P E R C E I V E D R E L A T I O N S H I P . . . PAGE 83
JOURNALMODERNPM.COM JAN/APR 2022
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5. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION
The study reported in this paper set out to answer the
question How does considering sustainability in project
management influence the perceived success of projects?
The study focused on the relationship between SPM and PS
because earlier studies indicated that this relationship is not
straightforward. Where some studies found that considering
sustainability in project management positively influenced
the success of those projects, other studies showed doubts
about the positive effect of SPM on the famous ‘iron triangle’
criteria of project success.
Adding to the complexity of the relationship between SPM
and PS is the realization that success in projects can be
assessed through multiple criteria, that are also weighted
differently by different stakeholders. It might be concluded
that success is a criterion that is just as much influenced by
subjective perceptions as it is by objective performance data.
Following the recommendation of Pirozzi (2021), the study,
therefore, focused on investigating the perception of the
relationship between SPM and PS.
The conceptual model of the study operationalized SPM in
nine dimensions of sustainability in project management and
six criteria for PS. This resulted in 54 perceived relationships
between dimensions of SPM and criteria of PS. Based on
the indications found in earlier studies, six hypotheses were
formulated, suggesting a positive perception of SPM, as a
single construct, on all six criteria of PS. Based on a
quantitative survey-based research design, with 132
participants, the study confirmed this model of the
relationship between SPM and PS. The findings also showed
a positive perceived relationship between SPM and all
criteria of PS, thereby confirming the hypotheses. However,
the participants of the study differentiated this positive
relationship for the different PS criteria. The strongest
perceived positive impact of SPM relates to the PS criteria.
The stakeholders of the project are satisfied and The project
prepares the organization for the future. The weakest
perceived positive relationship is found on the iron triangle
criterion. The agreed project deliverable is completed on
schedule and within budget.
The perceived relationships between SPM and PS appeared
to be independent of personal characteristics, such as
gender, age, experience, and work-related aspects, such as
industry, type of projects and internationalization. Only the
number of business partners showed a significant influence
on a single criterion of PS. In general, it may therefore be
concluded that the perception of the relationships of SPM
and PS is independent of demographic and work
The interfering effect of the number of business partners in
the project, which showed from the study, provides a
relevant direction for further exploration.
The study reported in this paper once again shows a positive
relationship between SPM and PS, as also shown from the
studies of Khalifeh et al. (2019), Malik, et al. (2020), Dubois
and Silvius (2020), Zaman et al. (2020) and Khan et al.
(2020). The contribution the study makes is that it explores
the subjective perception of the relationship between SPM
and PS. This complements the earlier studies, that aimed to
establish a relationship between SPM and PS based on
performance data of the projects. But as success is not just
determined by the performance of the project, highlighting
the subjective perceptions contributes to the further
understanding of the effects of SPM.
The study also contributed to the further development of the
model of the relationship between SPM and PS. By testing
the consistency of the answers of the participants it could be
established that the participants perceive SPM as a single
overall construct, but with differentiated effects on the
different criteria of PS.
The study showed that the perception of the positive
relationship between SPM and PS is not equally strong for
all criteria of PS. As was already expected by Silvius and
Schipper (2016) and the experts of the study by Martens.
and Carvalho (2016a), the relationship between PS and the
traditional iron triangle criteria of PS is less straightforward.
In fact, the perception this relationship appeared in the study
was only slightly positive, despite empirical studies showing
positive relations. Apparently, the perception that paying
attention to sustainability costs money, is widespread. In
projects, this perception implies that sustainability might
endanger the iron triangle success criteria cost and time.
Further studies need to be developed in order to investigate
the financial and time impacts of sustainable project
Limitations of the study are provided by the geographical
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Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands,
and University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Gilbert Silvius (1963) is professor of applied sciences at
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences in the
Netherlands, associate professor at HU University of Applied
Sciences Utrecht and visiting professor at the University of
Johannesburg in South Africa. He has authored several
books and over 50 academic journal articles, and a
recognized expert in the field of sustainability in project
management. For his work on this topic, Gilbert received the
GPM 2013 sustainability award and an 2020 outstanding
contribution IPMA research award.
As a practitioner, Gilbert has over 30 years’ experience in
organizational change and IT projects and is a member of
the international enable2change network of project
management experts. Gilbert holds a PhD degree in
information sciences from Utrecht University and masters’
degrees in economics and business administration. He is
also a certified project manager, scrum master and product
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