Walker, D.H.T. (2015), "Editorial", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 8 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-02-2015-0011Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Volume 8, Issue 2
This issue contains papers from around the globe providing results of research into project management issues from the perspective of a particular industry and geographic location, but with implications and learning transferable to the global PM community. Of the ten papers, seven are regular papers, one is a Research Note another a Thesis Research Note and this edition is completed by the inclusion of one book review.
The first paper provides insights into an interesting industry sector where there is a dearth of literature about how PM is enacted in practice. Alternative energy installations will form an increasingly large number of projects around the world as developed and developing countries seek ways of minimising carbon emissions. This inevitably creates a new area of specialisation for construction companies and sub-contractors and establishing good working relationships will support sustainable development. The paper's title: "Key drivers for informal project coordination among sub-contractors: a case study of the offshore wind energy", indicates that this is both a specialised area in relation to alternative energy options and location - offshore. The authors, Annabeth Aagaard, Pernille Eskerod and Erik Madsen from Denmark, report that they found that, similar to projects in general, despite good planning offshore wind energy projects need continuous coordination among the participants concerning scope of work, pace and timing if they are to be accomplished without delays. Research shows that informal coordination of residual and unforeseen interdependencies enhances time saving and facilitates better understandings. However, many sub-contractors choose not to coordinate informally. The purpose of this paper is to identify drivers that enhance or inhibits informal coordination in projects. In total, 15 SME sub-contractors within the offshore wind power energy sector were involved in co-creation of findings through eight network meetings together with individual interviews. This resulted in the identification of six drivers which enhance informal coordination and three drivers which inhibit informal coordination among sub-contractors in projects. This is an important paper as it provides insights into the lived reality of PM in complicated and complex working conditions within a growing area, but with findings relevant to project management in general.
Projects in developing countries can present sometimes unexpected and new issues. Samuel Famiyeh, Ebenezer Adaku, Laud Kissi-Mensah and Charles Amoatey from Ghana, Africa, discuss in their paper "Risk management for a tailings re-mining project in Ghana". This brings us PM insights from an interesting industry sector and part of the world. The mining sector usually is linked with high environmental, social and economic risks. Hence, the process of systematic risk management applied to a single case study of a tailings re-mining project in Ghana holds the potential for invaluable insights on risk management in the mining sector in general. Mining organisation experts in Ghana from within the case study project were asked to identify project risks and invited to make subjective assessments of the probability of occurrence and consequences for each of 15 identified risks. From this assessment, a risk severity matrix was developed. The findings show that the most severe risks for a tailings re-mining project include spillage caused by leakage from pipes; vandalism by illegal mining operators; late deliveries of mining materials; the effect of rainfall; and failure to gain project approval from the country's Environmental Protection Agency. Risk treatment options are suggested for these risks.
Many organisations wish to assess their PM maturity level but are unsure how best to go about this. Fredrik Backlund, Diana Chronéer and Erik Sundqvist, from Luleå University, Luleå, Sweden, provide insights in their paper entitled "Maturity assessment: towards continuous improvements for project-based organisations?" into the mining sector making a contribution to empirical research on project management maturity assessment. They explored the assessment process within a project-based organisation (PBO) and propose in their paper a framework for a sustained assessment process. Their research study involved a three-stage process. The first stage consisted of a literature review focusing on maturity models and maturity assessment. In stage two, a pilot study was performed, including semi-structured interviews with respondents from six different PBOs. In the final stage, a single-case study was executed with a focus on describing the practise of a project maturity assessment process in a PBO within a Swedish mining company. The unit of analysis was a Project Department and its project management maturity assessment process. The study has been based on in-depth interviews with a semi-structured approach, followed by a focus group interview. Data, based on questionnaires, were also used. They found that strong managerial support should be sought as it assisted people involved in a project management maturity assessment process. The case study results also highlighted the importance of including both internal and external project stakeholders in the assessment to achieve a sustained perspective when analysing project management capabilities. Based on the theoretical and empirical findings, a conceptual framework of an assessment process was created and is presented in the paper.
The need for investigating how competence is developed and generated in organisations that undertake projects within their operational business context has been identified as a gap in our PM knowledge. Paper four, "The competence loop - competence management in knowledge-intensive, project-intensive organizations" written by Rolf Medina from SKEMA in Lille, France and Alicia Medina from Umeå University in Sweden addresses this need. The paper reports on a study that identifies the mechanisms that steers competence management in knowledge-intensive organisations. It also investigated the factors that are involved in the human capital contribution to competitive advantage in relation to the interaction between parent organisations and projects. The main contribution of this paper is a theoretical framework derived from a critical literature review from a number of different domains. The framework is called the competence loop and it helps to explain how projects generate competence that the parent organisation can either exploit in further activities or use for strategy adjustment. It also explains how an organisation can use learning strategies to support competence exploration and/or exploitation. Another contribution made by the paper is the description of the relationship between dynamic capabilities and organisational learning in project-intensive organisations. This paper provides some very practical suggestions about building competence in organisations.
The fifth paper "Key Indicators influencing the management of team integration in construction projects" comes from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Che Khairil Izam Che Ibrahim, Seosamh B.Costello and Suzanne Wilkinson make an important contribution to research into collaboration on large-scale infrastructure projects though this paper. It is centred on Ibrahim's PhD thesis work and validates a list of key indicators (KIs) of team integration identified from the construction management literature. It also identifies the most significant KIs and provides suggestions on how to influence team integration, based on the opinion of an established construction peer group in New Zealand. Their analysis of their survey results showed that all relevant indicators have a strong influence towards determining the success of team integration in construction projects. The top-ranked indicators that contribute towards successful team integration are all relationship orientated. These include; a single team focus on goals and objectives; trust and respect; commitment from top management; free flow communication; and no blame culture. A framework for influencing these indicators of team integration is proposed which includes four elements; team formation, contractual model, teamwork principle and operational monitoring.
We lack a comprehensive understanding of what projectification means, how projectification is driven forward, as well as what the consequences of projectification are in an EU context in the public sector in general. Paper six "Projectification in the public sector - the case of the European Union" by Sebastian Godenhjelm from the University of Helsinki in Finland, Rolf A. Lundin from Jönköping University Sweden and Stefan Sjöblom also from the University of Helsinki in Finland provides us with a way to start rectifying that deficiency. They undertook a meta-analysis of key European Union policy documents related to the functioning of regional development projects. Findings show that structural developments brought forth by a projectification in a public sector context have significant consequences. They maintain that contextually sensitive interlinking mechanisms between temporary and permanent structures are necessary to avoid the risk of projects losing their flexible and innovative qualities. This may result in fragmentation of the ability of permanent organisations to maintain coordination and continuity. Research findings reported upon in this paper suggest that the proximity of permanent organisations, the discretion of entrepreneurship, the political priority of the task, the inclusion of competencies and interests and the quality of transfer mechanisms are essential variables in explaining the outcome of temporary organisations in a politico-administrative context. The paper contributes to the literature on projects in a public sector context and suggests that comparative research in supranational and national contexts is needed on the drivers and consequences of public sector projectification.
Paper seven comes to us from the UK and raises an interesting philosophical as well as practical question. "Where is intentionality in studying project delays?" This paper by Farhad Eizakshiri, Paul W. Chan and Margaret W. Emsley challenge the dominant techno-rational view of studying delays in projects. In so doing, they urge that more attention should be paid to studying the intentionalities of the planners involved in planning the schedule for projects. They take a critical approach to review a range of literatures related to the concept of project delays. Through this review, they render the relative absence of acknowledging intentionality in the study of delays as being problematic. Therefore, they inject fresh insights into how intentionality can play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of project delays. This paper provides an interesting departure from the bulk of papers dealing with project planning as its focus is on intentionality and not cause-and-effect analysis of project time delays.
The eighth paper "Goal seeking and goal oriented projects - trajectories of the temporary organisation" by Tina Karrbom Gustavsson from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and Anette Hallin from Mälardalen University Sweden makes a Research Note contribution to the theory development of "temporary organizing" in response to, and following on from, three papers in Volume 6 Issue 3 in 2013 (Artto, 2013; Jacobsson et al., 2013; Lundin and Söderholm, 2013). This research note conceptualises "the temporary organization" as constantly changing across time and space; as shifting between two empirically driven modes: "goal seeking" and "goal oriented". They argue that this is done through the shift of the trajectory of the particular "project" at hand and they observe that despite a call for taking the "organising" aspect of temporary organisations seriously, there is still a need for theory development of the area. By introducing the concept of "trajectories" into the studies of temporary organisations, the paper builds a theoretical framework through which such studies may be undertaken.
Paper nine provides us with a link into recent PhD research through the Thesis Research Note entitled "Integration of contractors skills and expertise as part of the people capability of complex project based organisations" by David Taylor, Derek H.T. Walker and Tayyab Maqsood from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. This paper provides a summary of key aspects of David Taylor's recently completed and passed PhD thesis. It enables readers who may be interested in the thesis topic to gain an overview of that work and a link to the entire thesis through a URL link http://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/eserv/rmit:160896/Taylor.pdf. It also explains the thesis author's doctoral journey. These TRNs should be of great interest to readers who are embarking on a PhD, supervising one or are contemplating the journey.
Finally we present a review by Derek Walker on a new book written by Charles Smith (2014) Playing the Project Manager. The review provides a taste of what may be discovered in the book that provides a fascinating update on themes that Smith developed and wrote about in several other publications (Smith, 2007, 2011; Smith and Winter, 2010). It was a pleasure to undertake a review on this book.
Derek H.T. Walker
Artto, K. (2013), "A chunk view of research into temporary organizations", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 595-603
Jacobsson, M., Burström, T. and Wilson, T.L. (2013), "The role of transition in temporary organizations: linking the temporary to the permanent", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 576-586
Lundin, R.A. and Söderholm, A. (2013), "Temporary organizations and end states", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 587-594
Smith, C. (2007), Making Sense of Project Realities: Theory, Practice and the Pursuit of Performance, Gower Publishing Ltd, Aldershot
Smith, C. (2011), "Understanding project manager identities: a framework for research", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 680-696
Smith, C. (2014), Playing the Project Manager, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Manchester
Smith, C. and Winter, M. (2010), "The craft of project shaping", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 46-60