Large IT projects are increasingly common and are often initiated in key sectors of society. Implementing a large IT project is a complex process, both for the customer and the supplier. Many people are involved, and the project demands key personnel possessing extensive business and management skills, as well as technical knowledge. It is well known in order to succeed, the development model, project management, estimates, plans and contracts must be well planned and maintained. The scope of a project is in other words extensive. The project may last for several years. However, a fundamental aspect of long-term business relationships is the importance of a well-functioning collaboration relationship between customer and supplier.
The motivation behind this study is to give interpersonal conflicts in IT development projects a broader attention. The focus is on interpersonal conflicts and their impacts towards the progress of the project, and the factors that contribute to such conflicts. An interpretative case study was conducted to investigate these issues, using the data collection methods semi-structured interviews, questionnaire and document analysis. The use of repertory grids outlines how 13 practitioners perceive interpersonal conflict. Findings include five salient problem areas of large IT projects: Contracts, estimates, interpersonal issues and interaction, project process and management and organizational relations. These issues are discussed with regards to four theoretical conflict approaches: problem-solving, systemic, narrative and transformative.
Keywords: Complex IT projects, Repertory Grid, interpersonal conflict, conflict escalation, conflict theory