Walker , D. (2016), "Editorial", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 9 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-02-2016-0010Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Volume 9, Issue 2.
This second issue for 2016 contains ten regular research papers and two book reviews. The first paper by Michelle Turner and Anthony Mariani from Australia is entitled “Managing the work-family interface: experience of construction project managers”. The work-family experience of projects managers working in the construction industry has been attracting attention recently with research results related to specific work/life balance and workplace well-being research areas being published by Michelle Turner and her colleagues. This paper reports that role conditions were found to impact on their research study participants' work family interface. These conditions included working hours, accountability, and the stress arising from accountability. Four key strategies used to manage participant's work-family interface were identified: managing work-based stress, having a supportive partner, prioritising non-work time for family, and trading off activities. Despite having to limit time with family and trade off social and leisure activities, participants did not report negative work-to-family spillover. All participants shared a passion for their work. Findings can be explained using the heavy worker investment model, which proposes that job devotion is linked to psychological well-being, decreases in work-family conflicts, and work satisfaction. Construction industry workers are required to work long hours and put in considerable mental energy and so this paper is particularly valuable as it provides insights from qualitative research interviews conducted with construction project managers working in the commercial sector providing data that were subject to thematic analysis. This provided tangible quotes to support the author's analysis of transcribed transcripts from nine interviewed participants that provided a rich source of insights of participant's lived experience of their roles. Large scale quantitative studies can provide very useful generalisable results but they cannot provide personal insights into the lived experience of construction project managers such as those reported upon in this paper. This paper explains the context of the conflicting role responsibilities and its impact upon the managers and their family and their social life.
The second paper provides research results related to a study that examined the capacity of risk allocation to encourage the implementation of sustainable energy innovation (SEI). The paper, written by Salafi Badi and Steven Pryke from the UK is entitled “Assessing the impact of risk allocation on Sustainable Energy Innovation (SEI): the case of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) school projects”. This paper brings together insights on innovation, project delivery approaches, and SEI initiatives through a four case study analysis from within the Building Schools for the Future, school renewal programme. It provides a key contribution through its conceptual understanding of the conditions under which risk allocation can support SEI. Their findings may also lead to a greater awareness of how complex procurement strategies, in the form of PFI, should work to support more innovative activity in the construction industry and to the growth or even creation of markets for innovative sustainable products and services. It also provides valuable guidance for policy makers engaged in major social infrastructure programs of projects.
Paper 3 provides some interesting challenges to conventional PM thinking posed by Jonathan Whitty and Eric Darling from Australia. While there has been a healthy interest in project management offices (PMOs) over the past five to ten years little is known about its origins. Their paper “The project management office: it's just not what it used to be” helps to bridge the gap in knowledge about the origins and evolutionary history of the PMO. Readers may be interested to learn that PMO's have been in existence since the early 1800s. Whitty and Darling undertook an extensive literature review of the academic and non-academic literature by searching academic journals and published theses and deep searches with Google Scholar and Books using a variety of parameters to capture the changing nomenclature of the PMO over many years. These searches discovered lost academic literature within university libraries, examples of very early essays on the project office and numerous government reports on PMO and project office undertakings. This paper contributes to the academic discourse by taking a longitudinal view of discovering where PMO's have come from and how they have adapted to their environment over two centuries; from pragmatic origins, to facilitation of government initiatives, to academic interest in evidence based practice. The contribution to the professional literature by this paper includes the rediscovery of rarely circulated literature on the human dimension of PMO practices. Furthermore, this paper highlights that in the contemporary literature not all PMO practices which are assumed to be “best practice” make a valid return on their claim. This last point is especially important to the practitioner community to consider when implementing PMO practice. Table II timeline of PMO literature in their paper may become the principal go-to source for readers interested in tracing the history of the PMO and it is hoped that this paper will become highly cited as a result.
Paper four “Modern selection criteria for procurement methods in construction. A state-of-the-art literature review and a survey” comes to us from the UK written by two highly respected and cited construction management academics, Shamil Naoum and Charles Egbu. The authors argue that making the best project procurement choice is critical to project success. They also observe that it has been about 14 years since the publication of a project procurement choice decision-making chart. This paper addresses that gap in the construction project management literature on project procurement approaches. The authors undertook a thorough critical review of the main journals that publish papers on construction project procurement as well as a similar study of several of the main conference proceedings that stretch back several decades. This formed the basis of their development of an understanding of the state-of-the-art of construction project procurement choices. They also developed and present an up-to-date utility decision-making chart for selecting the appropriate procurement method for the project decision-making chart after having analysed and appraised the literature adapting ideas offered by this academic sector's leading authorities. This paper should also interest non-construction sector PM readers who are looking for sound ideas developed by other PM sector academics.
Paper 5 is by Joseph Kaggwa Ssegawa and Mark Muzinda from Gaborone in Botswana. Their paper is entitled “Using RBM approach in managing projects beyond the development sector”. Results based management (RBM) has been described as a life-cycle approach to project management that integrates strategy, people, resources, processes, and measurements to improve decisionmaking, transparency, and accountability and is highly relevant to delivering benefit and value to both for-profit and the non-profit project sector. However, the authors argue that the RBM approach has been scarcely used in delivering projects in other sectors, for example, IT, infrastructure or business within the Botswana project management context. The paper uses a case study of a change management project delivered to a hardware chain in a remote part of Botswana called Xau to improve its service delivery. The paper is interesting for several reasons. First its location is intriguing because we rarely see PM academic papers on cases from Botswana compared to other parts of the world such as Europe, Australia, North America, etc. Africa is quickly become more developed and it represents a key area of global interest to receive papers that improve our understanding of the region and its cultural nuances that may impact how projects are best managed. This paper describes how RBM techniques are applied and how they were delivered within this challenging environment.
Paper 6 is entitled “The impact of project methodologies on project success in different project environments” and written by Robert Joslyn based in Switzerland and Ralf Müller based in Norway/Sweden. The paper investigates the application of various project methodologies (standards such as the PMBOK, PRINCE2, etc.). It investigates whether there is a relationship between a project methodology, including its elements, and project success, and if this relationship is impacted by the project environment (e.g. project governance or culture). It pursues the debate about standards and the degree to which standards should be adapted to cope with the context of both the internal and external project environment. The study involved 19 interviews across 11 industry sectors in four countries. Results indicate a positive relationship between project methodology elements and the characteristics of project success; however, environmental factors, notably project governance, influence the use and effectiveness of a project methodology with a resulting impact on the characteristics of project success. Many project managers are expected by their organisations to follow standard methodologies or in-house adapted ones. However there is a danger that they do so without understanding how the project environmental context impacts upon its strict use and hence its effectiveness. This can adversely impact project success if the PM approach is not appropriate for its context. This paper enhances our current understanding of the application mechanisms of applying standard PM methodologies that may affect project success.
Paper 7 comes to us from authors based in South Africa. The paper is entitled “Risk management in IT projects – a case of the South African public sector” by Blessing Javani. There is a dearth of PM literature about the public sector in general. We also see few PM papers from South Africa even though the country has a population well in excess of 50 million and is a substantial economy in a part of the world that could contribute greatly to future global economic growth. This paper improves our potential recognition, application and understanding (status) of risk management in information technology projects in the South African public sector. A survey was undertaken that yielded 102 responses from a population pool of 500 employees from the Modernisation and Technology Divisions of the South African public sector. This provided a realistic sample size upon which to draw conclusions from for a government organisation of that nature and the characteristics of respondents: the majority of whom were project managers with more than six years' experience in risk management in IT projects. The research findings suggest significant statistical support for the conclusion that risk management is being applied in current IT projects and that risk causes and effect as well as risk mitigation strategies are understood by the respective project clients. Very little is known about the risk management status in the South African public sector. This study sheds light on its application in IT projects and its understanding by IT project clients.
Paper 8's authors, Satu Rekonen and Tua Björklund, are from Finland and their paper “Perceived managerial functions in the front-end phase of innovation” explores managerial functions and related activities of inexperienced project managers in the front-end of the innovation process. They undertook a detailed qualitative study in which they interviewed 15 student project managers who were engaged in the front-end phase of their respective eight month projects. They analysed the content of 757 interview transcript segments on the project managers' perceptions of managerial functions. This data was categorised by thematic similarity content. The authors found that four major managerial functions emerged: providing structural support, coordinating and acting as a link, empowering the team, and encouraging and providing social support. Of these, traditional task-oriented managerial functions were emphasised and although all project managers recognised the importance of creating an open and trustful atmosphere and explicitly encouraged exploration, these activities were less emphasised than clarifying roles, setting goals, and coordination. This paper extends our understanding of PM in a new product development context.
Jigeesh Nasina and Sai Nandeswara Rao Nallam, from India authored Paper 9 which is entitled “Analysis of cost escalations in pharmaceutical projects”. This paper investigates different possible issues that contribute to cost escalations in pharmaceutical capital projects and identifies remedial measures to control them. Mixed research methods were used in their study. They first undertook post mortems on 36 completed projects from of one large pharmaceutical manufacturing company established in Southern India. Data were collected on these project's budget status for three consecutive financial years: 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012. Additionally, both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of feedback data from internal project stakeholders was undertaken and four prominent factors leading to cost escalations were derived and validated. The paper highlights these factors along with collected remedies to control project cost as a valuable support to the project teams. The latter was obtained from interview with 32 highly experienced project managers from four large pharmaceutical companies to extract a general list of causes behind cost escalations in pharmaceutical projects. A survey based on these overrun causes was undertaken within the four companies and of 170 questionnaires forwarded, a total of 153 people responded with clear feedback on 12 targeted questions. Exploratory factor analysis was then used to group causes behind these cost escalations. This resulted in generation of four prominent factors: monitoring and control problems; planning problems; activity-based problems; and estimation problems. Results were validated using confirmatory factor analysis. The study findings have several practical implications and results could help pharmaceutical project managers enhance their awareness in controlling project costs within the studied Indian context.
The tenth paper comes from Australia by authors Julien Pollack and Chivonne Algeo entitled “Project managers' and change managers' contribution to success”. Project management and change management have the potential to jointly contribute to the delivery of organisational changes. However, there is a lack of clarity in the literature about the boundary and relationship between these disciplines. This paper explores the contribution these disciplines make to a set of project critical success factors, to understand the ways that these disciplines can most effectively work together. Data from 455 respondents was collected through an online survey, examining project managers' and change managers' perception of each disciplines' contribution to critical success factors. Analysis of the survey results identified factors that were regarded significantly different by the change managers and project managers. Differences were apparent in almost half of the questions asked, suggesting that project managers and change managers perceive aspects of project implementation very differently. In particular, there was a tendency for each discipline to rate their contribution to ensuring good communication and feedback, and ensuring user/client involvement significantly higher than they rated the other disciplines' influence. These findings should be of concern for change managers, given the significance of these topics to their discipline and suggests that further work is needed to ensure that project managers are aware of what change management is and the role it can play in the success of organisational change projects.
Two book reviews follow. Mattias Weiss and Martin Hoegl review the book The Psychology and Management of Project Teams by François Chiocchio, E. Kevin Kelloway, and Brian Hobbs (Eds). This is an important book for readers who are interested in “soft skills” required of project managers. The second book review by Peter Edwards is on A Bigger Prize: Why Competition Isn't Everything and How We Do Better by Margaret Heffernan. This is an interesting book about collaboration and its benefits which is a topic of growing interest in the PM community. At the end of the review Edwards draws the attention of readers to a freely available You-Tube video about the book (just over one hour) by Margaret Heffernan that can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzsm2NtF0MA
Derek H.T. Walker