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A study of project management leadership styles across life cycle stages of an IT project in Hong Kong

Chui‐Ha (Tracy) Ng (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Derek H.T. Walker (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 20 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide a discussion of the way that teams and leaders interact over the life cycle stages of a project and how trust and confidence plays a vital part in this intimate relationship. Key issues relevant to this discussion are the nature of projects, the nature of trust and commitment and leadership style.


A case study was undertaken of an information and communication technology project delivered by an information technology (IT) company to a Hong Kong public sector organisation. The study extended over the whole of the project and data was gathered on how the leadership styles of individuals in “leader” positions of a project affected project management process success and failure from a critical historical event perspective. The study was considered over four stages: project initiation and design; development; testing and cut over; and finally project acceptance.


This paper highlights personnel changes in the leadership team. Issues relating to the leadership team of the public sector organisation and IT company are then explored, analysed and discussed. The source and use of power from the perspective of project delivery team leaders and the public sector organisation are explored to analyse how the adopted leadership style influenced the degree of trust and commitment exhibited by participants at each stage. Results suggest that team members should be considered as key project stakeholders and building their trust and confidence in the project leadership group is vital.

Practical implications

The paper explores cultural national issues that affect leadership style that are particularly relevant in a Confucian cultural context. While findings from one study cannot be more generally applied they do help to build our understanding of processes at work and what critical incidents influence the way that these unfold – in this case, the way that leadership style affected the organisational form for example.


Each case study is unique. This study provides particularly rich insights into the project and its characteristics across each stage of the project and so it contributes to the body of casework that helps explain the implications of how history, culture and context shapes the emergence of a particular leadership and followership style.



Ng, C.(T). and Walker, D.H.T. (2008), "A study of project management leadership styles across life cycle stages of an IT project in Hong Kong", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 404-427.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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