Successful on-time delivery of projects is a key enabler in resolving major societal challenges, such as wasted resources and stagnated economic growth. However, projects are notoriously hard to deliver successfully, partly due to their interconnected and temporal complexity which makes them prone to cascading failures. Here, we develop a cascading failure model and test it on a temporal activity network, extracted from a large-scale engineering project. We evaluate the effectiveness of six mitigation strategies, in terms of the impact of task failure cascading throughout the project. In contrast to theoretical arguments, our results indicate that in the majority of cases, the temporal properties of the activities are more relevant than their structural properties in preventing large-scale cascading failures. In practice, these findings could stimulate new pathways for designing and scheduling projects that naturally limit the extent of cascading failures.
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