Evaluation of the challenges to project delivery confronting project leaders in the dynamic human settlement environment

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Governments around the world are battling and continually trying to address the housing backlog, which stems from previous discriminatory regimes and increasing urbanization. The housing backlog in South Africa has increased significantly and most especially in Cape Town. Housing is seen as a measure to transform and unify the aforementioned segregated population. Project Leaders (PLs) are saddled with the responsibility of housing delivery and managing diverse stakeholders. Although project management is the driving force behind the provision of housing delivery, the project process is not free from dynamics. These housing projects constantly attract social and political attention, resulting in the PL repetitively contending with the inherited social and political dynamics of the Human Settlement Environment (HSE). This dynamism creates a complexity that poses numerous challenges that hinder the PL's ability to lead, manage and transform housing projects. This research examines the challenges faced by PLs in the HSE, and whether PLs exercise a capacity to creatively transform, maintain, and lead the project organization. A qualitative research approach with inductive-philosophical reasoning was chosen for the study. The research employed interviews for data collection. A sample of 19 PLs working in the public sector of human settlements in Cape Town was purposefully selected to participate in the study. The collected data was analysed using thematic analysis to identify appropriate themes. The research defined dynamic HSE as a new variable through the literature conducted and contributing to the body of knowledge. The results further identified six themes emerging from the challenges faced by PLs. They are: 1) Social challenges; 2) Political challenges; 3) Organizational challenges; 4) Legislative challenges; 5) Multi-stakeholder challenges; and 6) Skills challenges. Following on from these themes, two key issues showed that social and political influence were the dominant factors affecting the implementation of housing projects. The research found that PLs do not have the authority in housing delivery. This limits the PL's ability to creatively transform, maintain and lead the project organization.