Project manager characteristic affecting project success

In 1901, when Mozaffarol din- Shah of Qajar granted concession to William Knox Darcy to extract and produce oil in IRAN, this country became forefront in the middle east region, the richest region in oil and gas field.

After that first oil well was drilled in 1908 in Masjed Soleyman, Abadan refinery was constructed in 1913, D’Arcy concession was not extended successfully in 1933, in 1950, oil industry was nationalized, and in 1945 a consortium of oil companies dominated on Iranian oil and gas reservoirs.

After Islamic revolution, all previous rules and regulation was cancelled and Iranian experts took control of the first and most important industry of IRAN.

Now more than one decade has passed from that time and it caused doors of modern science and technology opened into Iranian specialist.

So the oil industry as the oldest industry of IRAN has specific and important role in country growth and development. (PETROPARS 2010)

Due to rich oil and gas reservoir, there are several mega projects that practice in Iran. Also some developments in previous fields will be essential.

In this regard, management of projects especially in oil and gas industry has been considered because inaccurate approach in management can cause project failure and it could have irrecoverable detriment.

In each project, even small one, a lot of materials and people are involved. So organizing project resources especially human resources to achieving most benefit is necessary in management. (Anthony walker 1984)?????

Nowadays, rapid change in technology, workplace area, considerable competitions, and cultural diversity in workforce and people involved in projects have caused manager with specific attributes fitted to project is crucial.

There are several management styles and according to project situation and type, one of them is suitable to implement. It was identified each management style was associated with specific traits and behaviors. Project managers have varied behaviors, traits, beliefs, values, and skills. And without implementing all of them, project could not been completed successfully. (Bass 1985)

The way that someone behaves toward others is defined as personality in dictionary. But psychological personality has more complete definition. “Personality is the process of a person’s constant self- definition in the real world that regulates the processes of perception, act, experience, and so on. Personality is primary in relation to activity and consciousness.” (Leontiev 2006)

In forming personal characteristics, there are several factors embedded like culture, family, education, society, and language. (Leontiev 2006; Allik and Realo 2009 Steinmayr et al. 2010)

As nature influence character of person, environment also has its impact on it. So nature is not versus nurture. Nature plays role of interstice leader, while Nurture helps person to find final destination. (Ridley 2003)

Affecting personal characteristics of project managers on project success has attracted researchers’ attention to itself. One of them mentioned that because of interpersonal relation and communication, it was essential for project managers to have some special characters to handle project successfully (Panjabikesan 2010)???. But just some of them tried to find a correlation between specific character of project managers and success of projects.

Nevertheless measuring project success is a complex issue. Based on old studies in project management filed, three criteria should be considered to define a project is succeeded or not. They are cost, time, and quality or performance (De Wit 1988; Atkinson 1999; Yu et al. 2005). But experience showed several projects had meet these criteria and surprisingly they did not identified as successful projects ( De Wit 1988). So recently some other criteria were issued as measuring project success.

Although personality of project managers has impact on project success, but it should not be forgotten each type of project needs special characters for management. Unfortunately compatibility between project manager’s personality and project type was not considered properly. Just some ones studied different type of projects and managerial approach that was suitable for specific type (Crawford et al. 2004; Shenhar, 2001; Shenhar and Dvir, 1996).

Therefore the effect of managers ‘personality cannot be ignored as an important factor in project outcome. So that revealing personal characteristics differences could help to determine how project manager affects on different type of projects.

Background and state-of-the-art knowledge

Several years ago, it was realized that specific characteristics could be helpful in a certain role and position.(Berens et al. 2005) In project management field, recognition of effective character for project managers is important. Many researchers noted to this issue. A literature that was done about effective project managers showed that some behaviors such as empathy, having perspective, respect others, ability to courage team members, aligning team and organization goal, building trust, being flexible, creative, imaginative, have high tolerate were important (Thamhain 2004; Kadefors 2004; Barkley 2006).

Managers’ qualification could be categorized into two aspects: personal characteristics and skills. (Martin 1976) . Some skills for effective project managers were stated in APM Body of Knowledge (2006) and PMI (2004) without associated traits and behaviors. So if project managers’ skills were not with specific behaviors, they could not effective. (Fisher 2010)

Important of characteristic of a project manager was studied by several authors (Andersen et al. 1987, Hogan 2002), but it was not defined that personality of project managers contributed project success.

These days studying effect of personality and behaviors of project managers on project outcome has been noteworthy. Meanwhile it was shown project managers desire to projects that type of them is compatible to their personalities (Crawford et al. 2004; Shenhar 2001).

However relation between these three subjects are so important, but unfortunately in related literature review of previous studies, just one researcher focused on it. Dvir et al. 2006

Iran is a wide country with different cultures that affect behaviors and characters of people. Also as it was mentioned being successful in oil and gas projects is highly significant.

So in this thesis, it was tried to be done a Comprehensive survey about project success, project managers’ characteristics, project type, and relation between them from different perspective in oil and gas industry.

Therefore in following it will be presented:

thorough literature review about project types, project success , project managers’ personality, and relation between them

present importance of each personal characteristics in different project type

relation between personality and project type

impact of each managers’ behavior on project success criteria


This paper is mainly focused on the personality of project manger which can affect the project. Therefore, the first step is reviewing the characteristics dimensions of project managers generally and then analyzing importance and effects of these factors of project manager on project.

The Sub-objectives of this paper are:

To identify personal characters of project managers that influence project.

To verify and identify the level and type of impact of each characteristic on project success

Research Methodology

As a first Step for each research literature study is prominent. Finding related references is so hard there so extensive search have done in this regard. There were found enough references about project managers’ characteristics and personalities, but about relation between this issue and project success, have limited sources.

The quantitative method has chosen due to the guidance of the tutor and according to selected title. This method gives this opportunity to categorize responses and then based on statistical approach, illustrate the results. In quantitative method, research could have accurate outcomes by using statistical method.

So that quantitative method with designing questionnaire was chosen. About 16 personal characteristics for project managers were picked and 10 level of importance was considered for each of them. Meanwhile 6 project success criteria were mentioned to measure each personality item could decrease, increase, or had no effect on them. Also for getting complete outcome, it was asked respondents to opine about those items for 4 types of project.

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The draft of questionnaire were sent to 3 managers of oil and gas industry and asked them to fill and send back with their advices. According to feedback gotten from them, it seemed format of questionnaire was complex and respondents were confused. So it was tried to change it to simple and friendly one. Finally, 2 items of personality were omitted, format was changed and last revision of questionnaire was prepared.

Questionnaire was designed by software (PDF and Excel) and its electronic file was sent to some participants. Also sometime other people preferred hard copy to fill. Therefore both ways were used for data collection.

However questionnaire has some constrains. Participants in the survey should answer to the specific questions in questionnaire and it is not open ended for their ideas. Other weakness is about time that participants should take for filling the questionnaire. In addition questionnaire is standard method and it is impossible to explain about items, except in its cover briefly and maybe it causes misinterpretation from respondents’ side.

But there are some advantages that answers are gathered in standard way, quick method for collecting information from many participants and large portion of chosen groups. With questionnaire, more respondents can cooperate in survey and data collection is more efficient. Also people that are far can participate and opine. In this research 45 questionnaires have filled in by respondent.

For getting the more accurate result, it was tried to select respondents from different parties that participate in a project such as client, consultant, contractor and management consultant (MC). Another considered issue was the experience of participant in this survey. They should have at least 3 years experience in an oil and gas projects.

Research content and contributions

Project Classification

A common fallacy among people involved in projects is that all projects are similar, so they can be managed by equivalent tools. Unfortunately, this attitude made project failure because of incompetent techniques in management. Therefore project difference should be considered.

One project classification method suggested three dimensions for project to classify. They are uncertainty, complexity, and pace. (Shenhar 2001; Dvir et al. 1998)

Risk and uncertainty are existed in all projects from the beginning in several dimensions especially technologically. Complexity of a project is depended on scope of work, variety of disciplines and number of people that works in a project. Pace is related to time that each project needs to be completed. Some projects are urgent and achieving time is goal of project.

Beside of these three dimensions, other one is transpired. It is Novelty. (Dvir et al. 2006)This factor is about new product or technology that is used in a project. Briefly, it was called NCTP model. This model as it is shown in Figure 1 can guide project managers to apply proper management procedure during project implementation.













Time Critical





Super-High Tech

Other writer (Wysocki 2009) discussed about project classification from different perspective. It was stated in project classification, some characteristics are considered for projects such as: Risk, Business value, length, complexity, and technology used number of department affected, and cost. Below table can present a simple definition based on project characters.








Type A

>18 months





Type B

9-18 months





Type C

3-9 months



Best of breed


Type D

< 3 months

Very low

Very Low



Success definition in project

There are different definition existed but in this research mainly focuses on project management view as below;

2-1- Criteria & factors of project success

Some literatures (Jugdev and Muller, 2005; Wateridge, 1998; Turner, 1999) defined project success should be considered from two areas:

Project success factors , independent variables that are effective to increase probability of project success

Project success criteria, based on the criteria someone can judge if project outcome is successful or not.

Criteria of project success are changeable in different projects. It depends on main organization’ strategy, natural of projects, and different industries of projects (Muller and Turner 2007).

An author (Collins and Baccarini 2004) found success criteria have a little different across industries. For instance, in construction industry, contractors try to decrease cost and time whereas client think customer satisfaction is more important than others (Muller and Turner 2007).

There is a difference between criterion and factor of project success. Criterion is a standard or a reference point against which project success can be evaluated or judged, but factor is a fact that contributes causally to project success. The factors participate in failure or success of project, whereas criteria help to make judgment about project success. This definition is valid in project success. Fig 2 shows criteria and factors in project success. (Lim and Zain Mohamad 1999)









Project Success

2-2- Macro and micro view point

Project success should be considered from different viewpoints of owner, end user, developer, contractor and society. These different perspectives are caused one project is successful form one viewpoint and failure from another one. Accordingly it is categorized project success perspective into macro and micro viewpoint. (Lim and Zain Mohamad 1999)

In macro viewpoint, project is success if original context of project is achieved, otherwise project is failure. When small levels of achievement are considered, it is the micro viewpoint of project success. Therefore here, completion criteria and satisfaction criteria are determined macro viewpoint of project success. It is demonstrated on fig 3, whereas completion criteria are determined micro viewpoint of project success. It showed in fig4.








And so on










And so on

Project Success














And so on

Project Success

Also Project success has several dimensions and one of them is social. This dimension specially is talking about people that are related to project and include project managers and project team members. There are two classifications: micro social and macro social. (PMI 2000) and (Eijnatten 1993)

Micro social is about skills and competencies of project manager, whereas macro social talks about structures of organization in project level.

According to micro social dimensions of project success, skills and competencies of project managers can affect on project success. They are including planning, managing activities, project team leadership, communicating to owners, basic knowledge about technology, and personal behavior. These skills are different based on technology used in projects. In high tech projects, managers should have special technical skills and also they need to have capability for risk assessment in new technology that is not developed.(Shenhar 2001)

2-3- Different criteria of project success

Most literature in project management field mentioned that the major objectives of project management are completion project on time, within budget and in a proper quality or performance, but many projects have been completed on time and within budget whereas they were not considered as successful project.

A research was done in USA among 650 projects that were completed and showed time and cost are not very important in measuring project success or failure. Based on this research, a project is defined as a success project overall if meet technical specification and achievement of all stakeholder satisfaction.(De Wit 1988)

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Recently project success has more dimensions such as: (Kerzner 2001)

Completion on time

Completion within distinct budget

At suitable level of performance

Acceptable by customer / end user

Refer to customer’s name as reference

Minimum changes in scope of work

Fit to main organization policies and goals

Without changing corporate culture in projects

Based on literature study in project success criteria, it was realized that there is an agreement about cost, time and quality as success criteria (Oisen 1971, De Wit 1988, Yu et al. 2005, (Atkinson 1999) even one of them (Wright 1997) proposed to reduce them into two criteria time and budget, so these three criteria is called iron triangle.

As it is mentioned, Iron Triangle or Golden Triangle is a traditional success criterion, but it is not adequate. Many attempts were done to promote it. Some writers presented a new expression about project success as it was explained above. It is also noted project success criteria could be assessed from different views of owners, developers, contractors, users, and especially society. (Yu et al. 2005)

Other writers (Sadeh et al. 2000) presented a framework with 4 dimensions to evaluate project success. These dimensions are:

Meeting design goals

End- user benefit

Developer benefit

Public and infrastructure benefit

But it should be considered if a project is succeeded; it doesn’t mean a company is successful in project management. (>>>)

A project can be success but performance of project management is not successful. If project management is good it can affect on project success, but it cannot protect project to be failed. (……)

2-4- Relation between type of project & criteria

Westerveld (2003) showed there is a link between success criteria, success factors, and project types. In this research, time, cost, quality, were used as success criteria to all stakeholders such as client, subcontractors, project team…. Also leadership & team, policy & strategy, stakeholder management, resources and contracting are mentioned as success factors to illustrate relation between them and five project types.

Muller and Turner (2007) in one study used 6 categories for project type definition that were developed by Crawford et al. (2005). They are application area, complexity, strategic importance, contract type, life-cycle stage and cultures.

Ranking success criteria by project types is different. For example, when project is complex and fixed price, customer satisfaction is more considerable. If project is high performing, satisfaction of a wide group of stakeholders should be considered.

Project managers were asked about importance level of project success based on project types and their characteristic.

Young project managers mentioned teambuilding doesn’t have high importance vice versa the idea of older ones. It is because of lessons learned and experience. The result showed team satisfaction has a crucial role for measuring success, so project managers with more experience have the greatest priority and there is a strong relationship between project manager experience and project success. Viewpoint about importance of success criteria differ by area. It can be observed that for European project managers, stakeholders’ satisfaction is not very important.

In high performing projects, project managers with certification are the best, but it should be mentioned that certificated project managers can be as bad as non certificated project managers if they perform poorly. Therefore certification is not enough.

Level of importance of success criteria impact on project performance and its effect is varied, but team and end-user satisfaction almost affect success measurement.

Both of them and also customer satisfaction are crucial factors to measure totality of project success.

As a result, it is concluded that

Team satisfaction is dependent on nationality, importance of project and age of managers.

Nationality can affect stakeholder and suppliers satisfaction.

Project complexity is important when satisfaction of stakeholder and suppliers are assessed.

Contract type impact on business repetition and customer satisfaction.

This research showed nationality and complexity play serious role to define success criteria and measurement of success. It means cultural values based on nationality cause difference in success criteria and success achievement.

Project managers’ characteristics

3-1- Definition of personal characteristic

Briefly, personal characteristic can describe a person traits and behaviors. In dictionaries personality was defined as sum of physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristic of an individual or the complex of all the attributes–behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental–that characterize a unique individual like Random House College Dictionary Thesaurus dictionary

Also there is another word that is used to describe people: competence. Competence is a combination of knowledge, skills and characteristics of a person. (Crawford 2003)

However it seems Competency and personality are mixed together, so that sometimes they seem similar. But it should be considered that competency is changeable during the time by learning, whereas personality is more stable.

3-2- Different Types of personal characteristics

Some researchers tried to classified personalities types into several groups. One of the groups is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that called MBTI. It has 4 dimensions and when these dimensions combined, they included 16 different personalities. The 4 dimension of MBTI are:

Social interaction: Extravert or Introvert

data gathering: sensing or Intuitive

priority in decision making: Feeling or Thinking

Method of decision making: perceptive or Judgmental

The Big Five personality trait is other psychology test. In this test the classifications contain openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.(Paunonen and Ashton 2001)

Other categorization was divided personality into six types (Holland 1997):

Realistic: people in this type like physical activity that needs skills, power and coordinating. These people often are shy, firm, persistent, proving, and practical.

Investigative: this group of people prefer to think more that physical activity, organize others or things, and realize. The characters of them are analytical, inquisitive, original and independent.

Social: preferences of social people are helping others and activity in society. They are usually helpful, sociable, nice, supporter, and understanding.

Conventional: they like to follow rules and regulation. They avoid from ambiguous actions. Their characteristics include efficiency, conformity, practical, without flexibility and imagination.

Enterprising: this group prefers to talk and influence others when there is an opportunity. This activity cause they achieve power. They are self- confident, domineering, ambitious, and active.

Artistic: they like creative activity without any constrain. They can be described as imagination person, idealistic, full of emotion, and without order one.

Therefore, above mentioned types are generalized characteristics of person and it wouldn’t care about role and position of a person in an organization. The following is about project manager’s personalities who are the main theme of this thesis.

3-3- About project managers character

It has been realized that specific personality of each human can be helpful in a certain role and position. (Berens et al. 2005) In this regard, some tests were used to determine this issue

MBTI categorizations were used by some researchers to find best type for project manager’s role. The classical explanation about project manager said Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging is the best one. (US Department of the interior 2000)

Shenhar and Wideman (2000) reported many types of MBTI can be proper for being project manager, but ESTJ type is the favorite one. Some other ones confirmed it. (Smith 2001). Also it was found that being S (sensing) type was prominent for project manager. (Mills et al. 1985)

Other writers (Black and Slaker 2004, Mullaly and Thomas 2004) stated that thinking type had more tendencies for being manager. Also comparing between male and female managers were presented that female were more T type and male were S type. Finally, it was realized a connection between personality and competency that the important one was flexibility.

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Some other authors and researchers suggested several personal characteristics and behaviors for project managers that are not based on psychological test such as MBTI or Big Five.

There are lots of research has been done to identify manager’s behavior in project. From the earliest one, Archibald (1976) pointed out a comprehensive list of project managers’ characteristics which provided more than 20 factors. Later several behaviors were added by some authors in project management field. For instance calm and realistic were mentioned by Stuckenbruck (1976), Honesty and integrity (Kirkpatrick and Locke 1991), Results orientation (Turner 1999), Positive minded (Houze 2000), Alertness and quickness (Kerzner 2001). Below table portrays brief managers’ characteristics which are found by different authors from the early ones.



Personal Characteristics

(Focus on Project Manager)


(Archibald 1976)

Flexibility and Adaptability; Preference For Significant Initiative and Leadership; Aggressiveness, Confidence, Persuasiveness, Verbal Fluency; Ambition, Activity, Forcefulness; Effectiveness As A Communicator and Integrator; Broad Scope Of Personal Interests; Poise, Enthusiasm, Imagination, Spontaneity; Able To Balance Technical Solutions With Time, Cost, and Human Factors; Well Organized and Disciplined; A Generalist Rather Than A Specialist; Able and Willing To Devote Most Of His Time To Planning And Controlling; Able To Identify Problems; Willing To Make Decisions; Able To Maintain Proper Balance In The Use Of Time


(Stuckenbruck 1976)

Multidisciplinary Oriented, Global Problem Oriented, Effective Decision Maker And Problem Solver , Have Management Knowledge, Have Analytical Ability, Creative, Impressive Communicator, Motivator, Flexible, And The Most Important One Proper Temperament Such As Calm, Realistic, Quick Thinking, Etc.


(Kirkpatrick and Locke 1991)

Drive And Ambition; The Desire To Lead and Influence Others; Honesty And Integrity; Self-Confidence; Intelligence; Technical Knowledge.


(Turner 1999)

Problem-Solving Ability; Results Orientation; Energy And Initiative; Self-Confidence; Perspective; Communication; Negotiating Ability.


(Houze 2000)

Having Vision and Clear Picture About Future; Goal Directed; Clear Purpose For Going Ahead and Achieving The Goals; Self- Control/ Self Discipline; Ability For Communication; Energy; Persistence; Positive Minded (Attitude)


(Kerzner 2001)

Dealing With Problems; Risk Evaluations; Honesty and Integrity; Understanding Project Team Problems; Having Knowledge About Project Technology; Business Management Competence; Management Principals; Communications; Alertness And Quickness; Versatility; Energy and Toughness; Decision Making Ability


(Goleman et al. 2002)

Self-Awareness, Self Management, Social-Awareness, Relationship Management.


(Peters Group 2007)

Honest; Competent; Forward Looking; Inspiring; Intelligent; Fairness; Open Minded; Courageous; Straightforward; Imaginative


(Charan 2008)

Ambition; Drive and Tenacity; Self-Confidence; Psychological Openness; Realism and An Insatiable Appetite For Learning


(Rainer 2009)

Loyalty; Joyousness; Ethical; Self-Awareness; Invention; Love; Firmness.

Recently it was found that belief to authenticity and spirituality has inherent connection to personal characteristic. (George 2007; Cammock 2003 and 2008)?????

Other researcher believed project is like assembling a machine and two important things can help assembling be successful is authenticity and integrity. They create a link between the words and the actions. Graham and Englund (1997)

3-4- Importance of Specific character (From Project Management view)

It seems all above characteristics are important for a project manager. In some researches the importance of them was tested.

In one report, 18 personal characters were asked to define which one is more important for a manager and leader as a successful one. The first four items that people value them were honesty, integrity, humor and trust. It seems that these four characters are the foundation of other behaviors and even skills of each leader and manager. (Whitaker 2008)

Also interviewees were asked to identify which aspect of their personality is the best one as a manager and leader. The top three aspects that had higher percent were communication, visionary leadership, and trust.

Other part of this research was about characteristic and skills people admired in leader and managers they worked with. It was interesting that the four top behaviors that were mentioned are like items when they wanted to describe their highest point in leadership. They are communication, trust, visionary, and empathy.

Also Leadership dimensions questionnaire (LDQ) was used to determine score of 15 competences of project managers among more than 50 managers. Result showed conscientiousness, sensitivity, and self-awareness related to emotional dimension got higher score among other ones. Whereas vision, strategic perspective and achieving had lower score. (Geoghegan and Dulewicz 2008)

Relation between character, project success and project type

Recently some researchers studied relation between project management style and project types, but there was no mention about impact of project manager personality on project performance and project success. (Crawford et al. 2004; Shenhar, 2001; Shenhar & Dvir, 1996)

Some characteristics for effective project managers were suggested in a study (Pinto and Trailer 1998). Also it was supposed skills in technical and leadership fields to be a good project manager, nonetheless there was not clear relationship between skills, personality and project success.

One research about project success and related success factors was focused only on time, cost, and quality and in this regard defined related success factors. Interestingly, there was no mention to project managers’ competence and leadership skills as success factors. (Cooke- Davies (2001)

Turner and Müller (2005) in a recent study expressed that previous researches ignored project managers’ personality, skills, and knowledge effect on project success.

Later it was stated that a close dependency between project success and project managers personality. (Crawford 2007).

It was realized Leadership styles of project managers have strong impact on their realizations of project success (Lee-Kelley et al. 2003). Also there is a relation between managers’ perception, project managers’ personality, and correlate experience. In this regard, self confidence and self belief of project managers that were derived from their knowledge and experience have significant role in completion project successfully.

Emotional intelligence of project managers also could be important in their perceptions about project success. Components of emotional intelligence could affect managers’ interpretation of success of project in different ways like:

Do they manage projects truly? Are they satisfied by their approach in management?

Are their teams satisfied by their management style?

How much are other stakeholder satisfied by this project?

According to one study, it was defined project success affected by some specific leadership dimensions of project managers. Briefly it was identified that 10 managers’ competences are contributed on project success that was showed in below table. (Geoghegan and Dulewicz 2008)

Factor 1 of success (Usability)

Factor 1 of success (Usability)

Factor 3 of success

(project delivery)

Highly significant correlation

Significant correlation

Significant correlation

Managing resources(MQ)

Critical analysis(IQ)

Managing resources(MQ)








To clarify what project managers behavior is proper, noted to nature of project is essential. Size, complexity and even phase of project life cycle were important in selecting project managers. (Stickney and Johnston 1977)

A combination research about project types, personal characteristic of managers, and project success was done. Three groups of projects included derivative (new product with a little improvement in old production), platform (new product but low technology risk), and high tech (high uncertainty in technology) were considered as project type. Interestingly it was found project managers tend to choose projects that are close to their personality. For example, managers who are perceiving and intuitive prefer to be involved in high tech projects. Inversely, managers who have rebellious dreamer and avoidance attachment style prefer to manage derivative or platform projects. (Dvir et al. 2006)

Briefly, it could say that project manager characteristic affect project success in some ways. Also considering to project types is important for choosing effective project managers.

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