The purpose of this paper is to explore managerial functions and related activities of inexperienced project managers in the front-end of the innovation (FEI) process.
In total, 15 student project managers were interviewed while they were engaged in the front-end phase of their respective eight-month projects. In total, 757 interview transcript segments on their perceptions of managerial functions were categorized based on thematic similarity of content.
Four major managerial functions emerged: providing structural support, coordinating and acting as a link, empowering the team, and encouraging and providing social support. Out of these, traditional task-oriented managerial functions were emphasized.
Although limited by the small amount of participants in a university setting, the results suggest that task-oriented managerial functions are dominant even in the FEI for inexperienced project managers. More research is needed to understand the antecedents and consequences of such task-dominance, and whether it persists as more experience is accrued. On the other hand, domain knowledge seemed to play a smaller role than indicated by previous research.
Project managers should pay attention to creating structure in the uncertain front-end phase. Swift familiarization with the capabilities and practices of each team member cannot be overemphasized, as otherwise the heterogeneity of the team might become a limitation rather than asset. On the other hand, domain experience of the manager may not be necessary in the FEI.
The study addresses the gap in previous research on managerial functions specifically in the FEI. Task-oriented managerial functions emerged as way of novice project managers attempting to deal with the fluctuating contingencies in order to foster innovation.
Rekonen, S. and Björklund, T. (2016), "Perceived managerial functions in the front-end phase of innovation", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 414-432. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-03-2015-0024Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited