The systems perspective has been established as a means to structure and understand complex phenomenon. Current approaches are premised on defining and establishing a hierarchical (reductionist) structure that, in effect represents a complex system as a system of systems. The underlying assumption of reductionism is that the resultant component behaviour and dynamics represent the overall system behaviour. In reality, most complex systems and management approaches are highly interconnected, dynamic and subject to non-linear behaviour. As such, they defy any rational description in terms of overall behaviour and effectiveness as prescribed through reductionism. This paper considers the management of major projects as a complex of systems and discusses the nature, characteristics and properties that lead to the difficulties associated with reductionism. The need for systems science, or synthesis, approaches is briefly discussed as an effective means to addressing the situation.