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Keywords:

  • project failure;
  • problems;
  • traps;
  • international development projects;
  • Africa

Abstract

This article discusses international development (ID) projects and project management problems within ID in Africa and suggests they may fall into one or more of four main traps: the one-size-fits-all technical trap, the accountability-for-results trap, the lack-of-project-management-capacity trap, and the cultural trap. It then proposes an agenda for action to help ID move away from the prevailing one-size-fits-all project management approach; to refocus project management for ID on managing objectives for long-term development results; to increase aid agencies' supervision efforts notably in failing countries; and to tailor project management to African cultures. Finally, this article suggests an agenda for research, presenting a number of ways in which project management literature could support design and implementation of ID projects in Africa.