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Enriching project organizations with formal change agents: Health promotion projects at the workplace

Pernille Eskerod (Department of Business and Management, Webster Vienna Private University , Vienna, Austria)
Just Bendix Justesen (Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark , Odense, Denmark)
Gisela Sjøgaard (Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark , Odense, Denmark)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 6 June 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Project success requires effective and efficient cooperation between the project organization and the permanent organization in which the project takes place. The purpose of this paper is to discuss potentials and pitfalls from enriching project organizations by appointing peers as formal change agents.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a literature review and a multiple-case study in which six organizations participated in an action-oriented research project. The aim for the organizations was to obtain a better health status among the employees by accomplishing an internal change project that enhanced physical activity at the workplace and in leisure time. Change agents in the form of peer health ambassadors were selected by middle management and hereafter trained by the project representatives.

Findings

The findings suggest that the selection of change agents and middle and top management support are major determinants of success within change projects. To select change agents that the employees respect and can identify with, combined with top management prioritization, is important in order for the project organization to benefit from the additional role.

Practical implications

Selecting the “wrong” change agents can jeopardize a change project, even when the project is supported by top management and the target group members at the starting point are highly motivated to change.

Originality/value

The research contributes to the understanding of project organizing by building theory on how formal peer change agents can enhance project success in change projects.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the managers and employees at the six study case companies for their willingness to participate in the research project. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank the various graduate students who collected many of the data and revised the text. In addition, the authors thank the colleagues and other researchers with whom the authors have had the chance to discuss the research.

Citation

Eskerod, P., Justesen, J.B. and Sjøgaard, G. (2017), "Enriching project organizations with formal change agents: Health promotion projects at the workplace", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 578-599. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-03-2016-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited