Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Charles B. Keating

Committee Member

Andres Sousa-Poza

Committee Member

Resit Unal

Committee Member

Arlene S. Levine


The factors associated with project success, or failure, have not been conclusively resolved in the project management literature. The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship of project team attributes and interim project performance using a statistical research design. An abundance of research has focused solely on the importance of technical project components as they relate to cost, schedule, or technical performance. However, research into internal team attributes has been sporadic and, generally, associated with subjective measures of project performance or less than optimal statistical techniques. Prior assessment of project performance has also been concentrated at project completion. In contrast, this research developed an objective measure for interim project performance, based on identified deficiencies documented by independent reviewers at critical project control gates. A validated survey instrument completed by team members from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aerospace projects, during the project formulation phase, provided data on team attributes. Using statistical analyses, appropriate to the level of data and data collection methodology, along with validating semi-structured interviews, the relationships between interim project performance and seven team attribute variables were investigated. The team attribute variables were focus, empowerment, structure, cohesion, recognition, interdependence, and intra-team communication. Rho and gamma statistics indicated a highly significant relationship between team member interdependence and interim project performance. Weaker relationships between the interim performance metric and communication, cohesion, and empowerment were found. In contrast, no relationship was supported with focus, structure, or recognition. For the early project lifecycle, this research substantiated through quantitative empirical means, the theoretical premise that project team member interdependence is associated with high interim project performance. The establishment of an interim project performance metric contributed to both practice and methodology. The utilization of statistics mathematically appropriate to the level of data and collection methodology was significant to a field where rigorous statistical research is difficult and scarce. The emphasis on early project lifecycle performance contributed to theory. From a practical viewpoint, the results provide evidence to support the need for early project lifecycle emphasis on the purposeful building of team effectiveness by concentration on specific attributes related to project performance.