System Dynamics Understanding in Projects: Information Sharing, Psychological Safety, and Performance Effects



Systems thinking has proven useful in project management planning activities and has been suggested as a critical driver of a range of beneficial organizational behaviors. Yet, empirical evidence on the myriad of ways in which systems thinking can impact internal project dynamics and performance remains limited. This study focuses on one aspect of systems thinking in particular: the ability to recognize and understand the dynamics of systems and their features (e.g., feedback and delay). It makes use of a unique, large-scale interview data set along with objective and structured survey data drawn from multiple sources associated with supply chain system implementation projects. Analysis suggests that an individual's understanding of system dynamics as well as the similarity of such understanding to that typical of their team is, in fact, a strong predictor of both perceptions of psychological safety and information sharing quality in project work. These outcomes appear to mediate the relationship between system dynamics understanding and performance.