Managing mega infrastructure complexity: a study on digital construction adoption in Nigeria

  • Iliyasu Abba ABDULLAHI

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


Existing strategies have failed to develop managerial competence in managing megaproject complexities, resulting in underperformance. Although various recommendations have been proposed, most fail to support managers when complexity peaks during infrastructure construction. This study investigated whether digital construction and the integration of technologies, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation, can enhance project management competence to tackle the complexities associated with mega-infrastructure construction in Nigeria. Employing an exploratory sequential mixed-methods approach, this study addresses a critical knowledge gap regarding complexity management within this developing economy context. The initial quantitative factor analysis of Nigerian project manager surveys revealed prevalent local structural and dynamic complexity drivers. Follow-up expert interviews identified competence crucial for managing multifaceted complexities during mega-construction. Extensive observations across nine active megaprojects and project management surveys provide empirical evidence that digital construction enhances communication, planning, coordination, and other competencies for navigating construction complexity. Inferential analysis further substantiates the significant positive influence of digital construction, particularly in enabling coordination capabilities to manage technical interdependencies, multiple teams, and distributed locations arising from structural complexity. However, substantial gaps exist between the theoretical potential and actual problem-solving impact of digital tools for dynamic complexity uncertainties, often attributed to profound organisational obstacles hindering adoption. Integrating concepts, models, and learning, this study developed an innovative framework for managing complexity in Nigerian mega-construction projects using digital construction. Extensive hypothesis testing and construction expert interviews validated the framework, confirming robust connections between digital construction, competence improvements, enhanced complexity management, and project performance. This study makes significant theoretical and empirical contributions by introducing digital construction as an innovative human-centred strategy tailored to construction needs. It also develops a pioneering categorisation of locally prevalent complexity factors and elucidates the context-specific managerial competencies that are most salient for megaprojects. Overall, this study elucidates pathways for sophisticated, digitally enabled, next-generation project management practices that can address the intricate complexity dynamics inherent in mega-construction projects in developing countries. This can be achieved through strategic adoption of human-centred digital construction.
Date of AwardMar 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorGeorgios Kapogiannis (Supervisor) & Michal Lemanski (Supervisor)


  • Construction complexity
  • Digital construction
  • Project management competence
  • Mega infrastructure construction
  • Project strategy
  • Complexity management
  • Digital tools

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