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The role of industry and academia partnership in improving project management curriculum and competencies

Erastus Karanja (School of Business, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, USA)
Laurell C. Malone (Office of Faculty Professional Development, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, USA)

Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences

ISSN: 1026-4116

Article publication date: 14 May 2021




Although project management (PM) continues to rise in popularity, there is still a significant PM talent deficit, leading to more challenged or failing projects. To lower the PM talent deficit and mitigate the higher project failure rates, academic institutions have been developing PM curriculums aimed at inculcating a repertoire of competencies to the potential project managers. In developing an ideal well-rounded PM curriculum, academic institutions occasionally engage the input of industry partners and governing entities. The study aims to (1) compare the competencies in one of the leading industry competency model and framework (PMI Talent Triangle) to the competencies in the PM course syllabi learning outcomes, (2) determine the extent to which these two sets of PM competencies are aligned and (3) and explore avenues for improvements.


The study uses a purposeful sampling method to gather PM course syllabi. The PM competencies data are gleaned from the syllabi using the content analysis method. Thereafter, QSR NVivo qualitative statistical software is used to summarize and analyze the competency data from the learning outcomes.


The results reveal that most of the PM competencies in the course syllabi fall under the technical PM domain. Specifically, the top three competency elements in each domain are technical PM domain (PM skills, tools and techniques, schedule management and cost estimation/budget), leadership domain (team-building, verbal/written communication and problem-solving) and strategic and business management domain (strategic planning, analysis and alignment, benefits management and realization, customer relationship and satisfaction).

Research limitations/implications

The study investigates the alignment of the PM course competencies with competency domains in the PMI Talent Triangle, a global competence model that is well aligned with other global competence models such as the APM Competence Framework, the ICB4 Individual Competence Baseline and the PROMA3.

Practical implications

The results from this study provide guidelines useful in informing PM curricula re/design, as well as the inculcation of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques and behaviors needed for effective PM.

Social implications

The PM curriculum can be improved by partnering with PM industry leaders who can serve as advisors to the academy on industry needs, direction and emerging innovations that can inform PM learning outcomes, PM curricular design and the development of quality PM talent. The academy and the industry are encouraged to actively strive for mutual partnerships where PM professionals and academicians serve on each other's advisory boards. Also, the academy can partner with the industry professionals by developing curriculum resources such as case studies that bring the real-life PM applications to the classroom.


This study is motivated by the call for research studies that provide a holistic picture of the desired PM competencies and an exploration and definition of the educational needs in the PM curriculum.



The authors would like to thank the editors and the reviewers who contributed in improving the quality of this manuscript. The authors are also grateful and indebted to all the faculty who graciously shared their Project Management course syllabi. A part of this research was funded by the North Carolina Central University – Deans Research Fellowship Award (2019). The authors are solely responsible for any errors or omissions.


Karanja, E. and Malone, L.C. (2021), "The role of industry and academia partnership in improving project management curriculum and competencies", Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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