International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 20 June 2008


Walker, D.H.T. (2008), "Editorial", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijmpb.2008.35301caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Volume 1, Issue 3

About the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

This issue is the third of the first volume of the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business (IJMPiB). As stated in editorial of the first issue, the aim and vision for the journal is to be an effective vehicle for encouraging PM knowledge generation and its development and refinement. It encourages PM theorists and practitioners to effectively stand back and reflect and critique how PM is evolving by reflecting in action as well as reflecting on action to make sense of the interplay between theory and observation that generates deeper understanding of the “why” and “how” of improved practice. It is also “International” in the flavour of the papers published. Contributing authors in this issue are based in the Republic of South Africa, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the UK and the USA. This third issue of the IJMPiB has a set of papers that consolidates its ethos. We have papers that explore and extend issues first offered in Issues 1 and 2 relating to practical reflective learning and we have several case study papers that help to document and analyse PM current practice and future trends.

About this issue

Papers published in this issue were selected from those presented at the Centre for Management and Organization Studies’ (CMOS) Mission Control: Power, Knowledge and Collaboration in Project Practice, conference held in Sydney Australia, 29 and 30 November 2007. CMOS, formerly known as Innovative Collaborations, Alliances and Networks research centre is a Key University Research Centre established in 1997 within the Faculty of Business at the University of Technology, Sydney. CMOS is a multi-disciplinary research centre bringing together expertise in social sciences, information technology, accounting, management and organization studies, psychology and marketing in order to understand and improve the theory and practice of management, managing, and organizing (www.ican.uts.edu.au/). All papers were double-blind peer reviewed and amendments and comments incorporated by authors in revising papers that now appear in this issue. We acknowledge and thank reviewers of those papers. I also take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank members of the organising committee of the CMOS 2007 conference that contributed to reviewing for this issue namely, Dr Tyrone S. Pitsis, Dr Damian Hodgson and Dr Shankar Sankaran and Professor Svetlana Cicmil. Co-funded through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Grant scheme (Project LP0348816), the conference addressed the central issue of power and control within the practice of managing projects and implications for the possibility of knowledge transfer, collaboration and innovation in project environments. More broadly at that conference, research papers on projects and project management drew upon the growing research literature across management disciplines incorporating understandings of previously neglected aspects of project work - all relevant to this journal.

The first paper in Issue 3 “Toward an approach to create self organising and reflexive information systems project practitioners” (Sewchurran, 2008) builds upon papers appearing in Volume 1 Issue 1 by Walker et al. (2008b) and in Volume 1 Issue 2 by Walker et al. (2008a). The primary purpose of this paper is to present an alternative approach to educate information systems project practitioners and it also builds on the previous papers in its approach to reflection and reflexive learning. The presented alternative to prescriptive, model based, instrumental learning approaches focuses largely on imparting a discourse to equip information systems students with an understanding of how communication occurs, how competences are acquired, and how to understand the influences of power and agency on themselves and others in a typical information systems project context. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the dilemmas which face the project management community, and the ideological debates about agile versus monolithic approaches, for which the software development community is infamous. Additionally, Heidegger’s motivation for defining the fundamental ontology of dasein is similar to the motivation given by the research community to understand actual project experiences. This paper advances the dilemma related to project practitioner education to a point where action can be taken. Educators can use the ideas presented in this paper to revive undergraduate project management education programs both in information systems and other disciplines. The paper continues the important discourse relating to the reflective practitioner theme in Volume 1.

The second paper “Learning investments and organisational capabilities: case studies on the development of project portfolio management capabilities” (Killen et al., 2008) follows the learning organisational theme of PM from the first two issues of this journal by seeking to improve understanding and provide guidance for investments in organisational learning mechanisms for the establishment and evolution of organisational capabilities such as project portfolio management (PPM) and project management capabilities. Results suggest that PPM and organisational learning are dynamic capabilities that enhance an organisation’s ability to achieve and maintain competitive advantage in dynamic environments. They demonstrate that PPM capabilities co-evolve through a combination of tacit experience accumulation, explicit knowledge articulation and explicit knowledge codification learning mechanisms. Although all three learning mechanisms are argued to be important throughout the establishment and evolution of PPM capability development, their research paper indicates that the development of an effective PPM capability will require particularly strong investments in enhancing tacit experience accumulation mechanisms and explicit knowledge codification mechanisms during the initial establishment or during periods of radical change to the PPM process. Managers can use the findings provided from the multiple-case study research to guide them in selecting the best learning mechanisms to develop effective PPM capabilities. This paper contributes to the understanding of the links between organisational learning and the development of dynamic capabilities.

The third paper “Towards different communication in collaborative design” by Smulders et al. (2008) continues the knowledge management thread with its aims to create a social constructivist perspective on collaborative architecture that is complementary to the rational-analytic perspective as embodied in the “hard” project management tools. Two theoretical perspectives from the field of design methodology, “design as co-evolution” and “design as a social process” form the base for an integrated perspective of collaboration. This integrated perspective describes in detail the social process among multi functional actors involved in co-creational processes. A third theoretical framework discusses the process of maturing conflicts and conflict prevention using the integrated perspective on collaboration. Data from two empirical studies are used to illustrate both perspectives. This paper shows the similarities in design methodology and conflict literature by introducing a social constructivist perspective on collaborative architecture. The notion of cognitive errors, as root cause of “conflictuous” situations, becomes especially apparent. Smulders et al. (2008) describe the role of perceptual differences in detail that can make and break collaborative architecture. Based on these findings, some hypothetical intervention strategies are proposed that collaborating actors can apply in order to prevent “conflictuous” situations to grow beyond control and even bend those situations towards innovations. Actors engaged in multi functional and multi actor creational processes might benefit from building a rudimentary mental model representing the world of the other function or other organization. Their paper helps us better understand how collaborative architecture without having social-emotional conflicts is realized by explicating implicitly held knowledge, understandings and perceptions. They argue that an individual cognitive effort as well as a social-interactive effort is needed in which actors explicitly discuss differences in perception before these perceptions evolve into misleading truths. They maintain that:

[…] actors need to have some sort of rudimentary understanding of each other’s thought world and trust in each other’s professionalism and factuality to form a basis for such synchronizing discussions. Thus, preventing conflicts is not about having more communication, but about different communication!

This paper should be of interest to readers who are intrigued about the psychology of the briefing process and how knowledge exchange between parties evolves.

The fourth paper “Improving cross-company project management performance with a collaborative project scorecard” (Niebecker et al., 2008) provides some useful insights into how a strategy-based scorecard concept was developed to monitor and control collaborative automotive industry projects, to measure their performance, and to manage risks. The method aims to improve the project management performance of cross-company projects. The application of a Balanced Scorecard to cross-company projects in the automotive industry can be facilitated by an impact matrix to develop strategy maps. Examples of collaborative strategy maps, project objectives, and key performance indicators to manage automotive projects are given and advantages, disadvantages, and limitations discussed. The paper discusses the possibilities of improving project management efficiency and effectiveness, as well as increasing project transparency with a collaborative project scorecard. This paper fulfils the need to align collaborative project objectives with cross-company business strategies in the automotive industry. The application of a Balanced Scorecard to cross-company projects in the automotive industry is a new approach and would be of interest to all project managers aiming to increase transparency in their projects. This advances the journal’s aim to present a wide range of industry-relevant PM case study papers.

The fifth paper “Top management involvement in project management - exclusive support practices for different project scenarios” by Zwikael (2008) starts from the position that top management support is considered one of the critical success factors in project management and that effective executive involvement can significantly improve project success. However, he argues that the literature does not provide organizations with a clear list of effective top management support practices to achieve this type of support. His paper reports upon research data that were collected from 700 project managers and their supervisors in seven industries and three countries - Japan, Israel and New Zealand. His paper highlights the impact of top management support processes, which he then demonstrates contributes highly to project success. His results reassure us that top management support is significantly correlated with project success and that different top management support processes should be implemented in any industry and culture. The paper provides recommendations that outlines specific top management support processes (by industry type and country studied) that helps PM practitioners to focus on appropriate processes to facilitate project success.

The final paper, “A study of project management leadership styles across life cycle stages of an IT project in Hong Kong” by Ng and Walker (2008). This paper provides a discussion of the way that teams and leaders interact over the life cycle stages of a project and how trust and confidence plays a vital part in this intimate relationship. Key issues relevant to this discussion are the nature of projects, the nature of trust and commitment and leadership style. The research was conducted over four project stages: project initiation and design; development; testing and cut over; and finally project acceptance. One of the authors was a participating member of the project team and so was able to use reflection together with project document artefacts and personal diary notes to make sense of the observed phenomena. The authors’ results suggest that team members should be considered as key project stakeholders and building their trust and confidence in the project leadership group is vital. The paper also explores cultural national issues that affect leadership style that are particularly relevant in a Confucian cultural context. Ng and Walker acknowledge that while findings from one study cannot be more generally applied, they do help to build our understanding of processes at work and what critical incidents influence the way that these unfold - in this case, the way that leadership style affected the organisational form for example. This paper should be useful to readers who have an interest in the interaction of culture and leadership styles.

This issue also introduces the work of two recently completed and published doctoral theses. The first thesis research report note is by Grisham (2006b). His thesis places the research in context to emerging areas of international project management, leadership, and cultural intelligence, and to encourage others to embark on further research related to this important topic. He developed a useful model for understanding and relating to cross-cultural team members working on a wide variety of project types. This thesis was undertaken as part of the DPM program at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia. Results reported in his thesis were based upon action learning, and was subsequently tested by utilizing a Delphi panel of international subject matter experts. Dr Grisham is a PM practitioner with extensive experience in managing complex projects where cross, cultural project team member interactions and relationship building became a significant issue in leading project teams. He also published a number of journal papers and book chapters including (Grisham, 2006c, 2007; Grisham and Walker, 2006; Grisham and Fellows, 2008; Grisham and Srinivasan, 2008a, b) as well as numerous peer reviewed international conference papers (Grisham, 2006a) that have evolved from this thesis and papers that were presented at a number of Project management conferences (Grisham and Srinivasan, 2007a, b) including the Project Management Institute Southern Caribbean Chapter (It’s about Time, Cultural Knowledge Transfer, and Cross-cultural Conflict). His thesis may be downloaded from: http://adt.lib.rmit.edu.au/adt/public/adt-VIT20061116.125205/

The second thesis research report note is from Andrew Sense who undertook his PhD from Macquarie University in Sydney Australia. This work reports the nature of his thesis in which he studied situated learning with a project team in an integrated steelmaking operations plant in Australia that was initiating a set of improvements and work-based learning initiatives. This type of project falls into the type of change management and organisational learning projects that are now more recently becoming a PM focus of interest. Sense (2008) also had a paper from his thesis published in Issue 1 of this journal’s Volume 1 and so readers who found that paper interesting can now discover more about its genesis. This paper also explains his methodology and model of situated learning. While his thesis was not made publicly available as is the case with all the others that have been featured in this journal, it is available as a published book and can be directly sourced from Palgrave Macmillan at: www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID = 276502. The purpose of these Thesis Research Report Notes is to raise readers’ awareness of PM-related doctoral work and also to link them directly to a place where the thesis can be readily sourced. The book is also reviewed in this issue by Dr Steve Leybourne.

The intention of this journal is to also provide a review of relevant and useful new PM publications that can enhance the PM academic and practitioner’s stock of knowledge that can be reflected upon. In this issue, we review two books of relevance to project management professionals. The first is a review by Dr Steve Leybourne of the book by Andrew Sense that was published based on an adaptation of his PhD thesis reported upon in this issue. The book (Sense, 2007) is entitled Cultivating Learning Within Projects, and is published in New York by Palgrave MacMillan. This book has relevance to projects being viewed as learning opportunities for individuals, teams and organisations. The second book authored by Hughes (2006) is reviewed by Dr Simon Shurville. The book is entitled Change Management: A Critical Perspective and is published in London, UK by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This is relevant to viewing project management through a change management perspective - or vice versa.

Professor Stewart Clegg provides a research note that is a comprehensive critique of several of Bent Flyvbjerg’s more recent books. This paper is based upon Cleggs introduction to Flyvbjerg’s keynote speech to the CMOS 2007 conference. Both, the work of Clegg and Flyvbjerg has been acknowledged as an important contribution to the PM literature, particularly in terms of the role of power and politics in shaping project outcomes and the oft unintended consequences of failing to realise the influence of power on the dynamics of relationships among project stakeholders.

Finally, I thank all contributors for their time, effort, energy and courage in exposing their ideas and research findings to the scrutiny of a double blind peer review.

Derek H.T. Walker


Grisham, T. (2006a), “Cross-cultural leadership in construction”, paper presented at Joint International Conference on Construction Culture, Innovation, and Management, CIB, Dubai

Grisham, T. (2006b), “Cross cultural leadership”, Doctor of Project Management thesis, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT, Melbourne

Grisham, T. (2006c), “Metaphor, poetry, storytelling, and cross-cultural leadership”, Management Decision, Vol. 44 No. 4, pp. 486-503

Grisham, T. (2007), “Leading sustainability”, World Review of Entrepreneurship Management and Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Management and Business Competitiveness, Inderscience Publications, Geneva (in press 2008)

Grisham, T. and Fellows, R. (2008), “Cross-cultural leadership”, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management (in press)

Grisham, T. and Srinivasan, P. (2007a), “Designing communications on international projects”, paper presented at CIB World Building Congress, Cape Town

Grisham, T. and Srinivasan, P. (2007b), “Designing risk on international projects”, paper presented at CIB World Building Congress, Cape Town

Grisham, T. and Srinivasan, P. (2008a), “Managing designing risk”, in Emmitt, S., Prins, M. and Den Otter, A. (Eds), Perspectives on Architectural Management, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford (in press)

Grisham, T. and Srinivasan, P. (2008b), “Temporary project cultures”, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management (in press)

Grisham, T. and Walker, D.H.T. (2006), “Nurturing a knowledge environment for international construction organizations through communities of practice”, Construction Innovation: Information Process, Management, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 217-31

Hughes, M. (2006), Change Management: A Critical Perspective, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London

Killen, C.P., Hunt, R.A. and Kleinschmidt, E.J. (2008), “Learning investments and organisational capabilities: case studies on the development of project portfolio management capabilities”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 334-51

Ng, C-H.T. and Walker, D.H.T. (2008), “A study of project management leadership styles across life cycle stages of an IT project in Hong Kong”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 404-27

Niebecker, K., Eager, D. and Kubitza, K. (2008), “Improving cross-company project management performance with a collaborative project scorecard”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 368-86

Sense, A.J. (2007), Cultivating Learning within Projects, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY

Sense, A.J. (2008), “Conceptions of learning and managing the flow of knowledge in the project-based environment”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 33-48

Sewchurran, K. (2008), “Toward an approach to create self organising and reflexive information systems project practitioners”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 316-33

Smulders, F., Lousberg, L. and Dorst, K. (2008), “Towards different communication in collaborative design”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 352-67

Walker, D.H.T., Anbari, F.T., Bredillet, C., Söderlund, J., Cicmil, S. and Thomas, J. (2008a), “Collaborative academic/practitioner research in project management: examples and applications”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 168-92

Walker, D.H.T., Cicmil, S., Thomas, J., Anbari, F.T. and Bredillet, C. (2008b), “Collaborative academic/practitioner research in project management: theory and models”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 17-32

Zwikael, O. (2008), “Top management involvement in project management - exclusive support practices for different project scenarios”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 387-403