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Not the usual project management: a better way to prepare for major disruptions

Te Wu (Department of Management, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Huy Will Nguyen (Department of Management, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Young Hoon Jung (Department of Management, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Isabelle Yi Ren (Department of Management, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 9 October 2023




Organizations have always faced the possibility of disruptions. Traditional approaches, such as shifting risks through insurance or improving organizational resiliency, view disruptions as threats. This study aims to propose a new perspective where disruptions can also be opportunities. By adopting project portfolio management (PPM), organizations can develop proactive capabilities to manage uncertainty and prepare to exploit future disruptions.


Drawing on publicly available research reports, company reports, professional standards and press reports, this study describes key features of PPM and provides detailed practical guidance on how to apply PPM in daily operations, especially in preparation for the next disruption.


The key steps in applying PPM in daily operations are: align portfolios and projects with strategic goals and objectives; establish a robust governance framework; optimize resource capability and capacity; build and implement appropriate implementation methodologies; continuously monitor, review and optimize the project portfolio; and develop a culture that embraces risks, innovation and adaptability.

Research limitations/implications

This research has several limitations and implications. On limitations, the study was constrained by publicly available data, an in-depth interview with a consulting firm and a survey based on convenient sampling. These limitations will impact the generalizability of the findings. On implications, this paper shows how organizations can prepare for future disruptions by applying PPM. There are other ways to prepare for the unpredictable future, and further research is needed to explore other methods.

Practical implications

The results of this study have important practical implications for all organizations and in all sectors. Major disruptions are matters of “when,” not “how,” and responsible organizations need to pay attention. Based on the PPM discipline, this research provides an approach for business executives and project management practitioners to tackle this challenge. Furthermore, portfolio managers should use this information to promote and advocate for more disciplined planning to confront the uncertain future.

Social implications

The findings of this paper carry important social implications. As the recent events showed the vastness of disruptions, from extreme heat to fires in Maui, sitting idly and waiting passively for an unpredictable future is not an option. This paper advocates the need for more awareness and preparation for future disruption by applying PPM. Furthermore, this research provides concrete guidelines for organizations and practitioners to consider as they confront the unknown. Additional research should investigate other effective strategies to meet the challenges of an uncertain and volatile future.


This study offers practical steps on how organizations may manage not only to survive but also to thrive in an uncertain and volatile world.



Wu, T., Nguyen, H.W., Jung, Y.H. and Ren, I.Y. (2023), "Not the usual project management: a better way to prepare for major disruptions", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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