A new research article authored by Paul Grogan appears in Systems Engineering as an early access manuscript today.
This paper evaluates perception of complexity in a novel explanatory model that relates product performance and engineering effort. Complexity is an intermediate factor with two facets: it enables desired product performance but also requires effort to achieve. Three causal mechanisms explain how exponential growth bias, excess complexity, and differential perception lead to effort overruns. Secondary data from a human subject experiment validates the existence of perception of complexity as a context-dependent factor that influences required design effort. A two-level mixed effects regression model quantifies differences in perception among 40 design groups. Results summarize how perception of complexity may contribute to effort overruns and outline future work to further validate the explanatory model and causal mechanisms.