The influence of experience and information search styles on project risk identification performance

Eunice Maytorena, Graham M. Winch, Jim Freeman, Tom Kiely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The management of risks in projects is a growing area of concern. Both the identification and analysis phases of the risk management process are considered the most important, for they can have a big effect on the precision of the risk assessment exercise. Currently, it is assumed that project managers rely largely on experience to identify project risks. These decisions, influenced by individual perception and attitudes, are made primarily under conditions of uncertainty. Understanding how individuals respond to uncertain situations, therefore, requires an understanding of how individuals intuitively assess the situation they perceive, before expressing a response. The Project Risk Identification (Pro-RIde) project interviewed 51 project managers using active information search (AIS) as a data collection method and cognitive mapping as a data-capturing tool. Our results suggest that the role of experience in the risk identification process is much less significant than it is commonly assumed to be. By contrast, information search style, level of education and risk management training do play a significant role in risk identification performance. These findings suggest the potential for a more thorough approach to risk identification. © 2007 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-326
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Active information search
  • Cognitive mapping
  • Project risk identification
  • Project risk management


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