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Sustainable development and project stakeholder management: what standards say

Pernille Eskerod (Department of Leadership and Strategy, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark)
Martina Huemann (Projektmanagement Group, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 18 January 2013




The purpose of this paper is to analyze how various approaches to stakeholder management, as well as sustainable development principles, are included in internationally‐used project management standards; and to consider the demands these approaches and principles place on project stakeholder management.


An analytical framework was developed based on stakeholder theory within general management, as well as on sustainability research. Desk research was carried out by applying the analytical framework to three project management standards: ICB, PMBOK and PRINCE2.


The research findings suggest that stakeholder issues are treated superficially in the project management standards, while putting stakeholder management in the context of sustainable development would ask for a paradigm shift in the underpinning values. The current project stakeholder practices represent mainly a management‐of‐stakeholders approach, i.e. making stakeholders comply to project needs, whereas a management‐for‐stakeholders approach may be beneficial.

Research limitations/implications

As the analysis is based on document studies of bodies of knowledge, the authors cannot be sure to what extent the standards represent real‐life practices. However, the standards are developed by practitioners agreeing on common practices. Further, they are used to certify project managers worldwide. Therefore, the authors find it safe to claim that the findings are relevant when discussing project management practices.


The value of this paper lies in the enrichment of the understanding of project stakeholder management by applying concepts from general stakeholder theory and sustainable development research.



Eskerod, P. and Huemann, M. (2013), "Sustainable development and project stakeholder management: what standards say", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 36-50.



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