Project Managers’ Cognitive Style in Decision Making: A Perspective from Construction Industry

  •  Muneera Esa    
  •  Anuar Alias    
  •  Zulkiflee Samad    


A large and growing body of literature focuses on the project manager’s technical issues while ignoring the
so-called soft project management. This study proposes that there is a need to extend management practices for
project management from a human-related factor by incorporating the cognitive styles in the decision-making
process towards the accomplishment of a successful project. The study aims to introduce the concept of
cognitive styles in decision making by project managers. Furthermore, it takes up a discussion on the definition
and types and roles of cognitive styles by linking these styles with project manager’s decision making behaviour.
A questionnaire-based survey using Cognitive Style Instrument (CoSI), covering 110 project managers in the
construction industry, was used to determine the cognitive styles among Malaysian project managers. The paper
provides the empirical findings that reveal that Malaysian project managers used Cognitive Style on a daily basis
in their project environment. Planning Style was the most preferred style, followed by Knowing Style and
Creating Style. This study is significant both for researchers and practitioners to shed light upon the ways in
which project managers organise and process information and make judgements from a psychological
perspective. Moreover, this study contributes more generally to the evolving understanding of the human
intellect process in project management. This paper introduces the concept of Cognitive Styles as an important
human-related factor for project managers, contributing to the body of project manager’s soft skills.

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