- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 20 Feb 2019
Contingency theory in construction
Contingency theory is an organisational theory based around the idea that the role of a project manager is to establish the best possible fit between the organisation, its environment and sub-systems.
It is founded on the belief that many management theories may be appropriate in a particular situation, but no single approach will work successfully in all circumstances. Instead, internal and external situations will determine the optimal course of action. This makes it particularly appropriate for construction, which, with its typically uncertain and non-routine site environment, will typically benefit from a management model that is more adaptive and flexible.
Contingency theory encompasses the idea of open systems, i.e. systems that have external interactions - such as construction. Open systems are capable of reaching the same objective from different initial conditions and by following different paths (organisational structures). This is known as the equifinality of open systems.
Project managers must ‘satisfice’ (a combination of the words 'satisfy' and 'suffice'), that is, they must find a solution which is sufficient to satisfy the specific project criteria – in order to identify a route which optimises the performance of the system and sub-systems.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
How to research a building when there are no primary sources.
A re-thatching project has supported a critically endangered skill.
What inspired the Metabolist movement in architecture?
A radical transformation of three agricultural barns.
How to evict a tenant
The top 10 priorities for health and wellbeing.
Why some clients make BREEAM a contractual requirement.
Raising the roof in Southwark.
The difference between consultant switch and novation.
CIAT has been promoting the discipline in India.
Ensuring thermal comfort and allowing users to control their own environment.