From the Editor

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 13 September 2011


Walker, D.H.T. (2011), "From the Editor", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

From the Editor

Article Type: From the Editor From: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Volume 4, Issue 4

About this issue

This is the final issue for 2011, Volume 4. We have continued to experience solid and welcomed support from both contributors and reviewers and for that I thank you all. I have been fortunate to travel and meet many readers, contributors and reviewers and I have received some very positive feedback about the quality of papers and the opportunities presented by the journal. We are pleased that not only have many PM thought leaders written papers over these 16 issues but that we have also had many emerging researchers new to the PM scholarly community who also have published in IJMPB. The thesis research notes have been particularly praised as an interesting and useful innovation. Having access to an electronic version of an original thesis is very useful for contributors who want knowledge of the existence of their work to be “out there” as soon as possible to be cited and to open up a range of possibilities for collaboration or being cited. It is also very useful for the journal readership. Having a summary of the thesis plus insights into the motivation of the writer to select the topic they have chosen not only informs us of what steam of papers, we would hope to expect from the work but also for those who are contemplating a thesis research topic the notes provide some guidance and no doubt comfort. Having a direct internet link provides instant access to a very wide audience.

This issue contains six papers, one research note, two research thesis report notes and one book review.

The first paper to appear in this issue is entitled “Looking again at current practice in project management” by Joyce Fortune, Diana White, Kam Jugdev and Derek Walker. It reports the findings of a survey designed to: capture the “real world” experiences of people active in project management in Australia, Canada and the UK. This survey follows up on similar work undertaken by Joyce Fortune and Diana White undertaken in the earlier part of this decade and so it extends our understanding of the tools, processes and practices of project managers from a more cross-national boundary perspective and presents useful historical perspective on PM trends in practice and rates of credentialisation of those surveyed. It also provides useful quantitative results that can be used to more broadly speculate and make sense of other qualitative studies.

The second paper is authored by Adekunle Oyegoke entitled “The constructive research approach in project management research” from Salford University in the UK. The paper shows the applicability of the constructive research approach to construction and project management. The paper also highlights some criticisms that the constructive approach has not been firmly rooted in PM research and suggests some solutions. He argues that the constructive research approach is a problem solving method that both relies on different research tools and is also associated with interpretive epistemology, positivist epistemology and empiricism. The question-driven research design provides a logical sequence that connects the empirical data to a study’s initial research questions and ultimately to its conclusions. Constructive research aimed at producing novel solutions to both practical and theoretical problems. This paper should be of particular interest to readers who would like to broaden their knowledge of research approaches used in studying project management.

The third paper, by C. Venugopal and K. Suryaprakasa Rao entitled “Learning from a failed ERP implementation – a case study research” comes to us from Chennai, India. The paper reports on research that helps us to understand the causal factors for failures of ERP implementation projects in the Indian context. The unit of analysis was a failed ERP project followed by a successful one in the same organization with data being collected through interviews, observation and study of archival documents. The study extends the work of earlier researchers in India as a new IT market. It identifies important constructs and composites of existing CSFs, which future research could measure as use as ex ante predictors of ERP project success. It is important for us to have access to a range of case studies that can be later investigated through a meta-study to be able to trace trends through longitudinal studies.

The fourth paper, following an IT theme, is written by Jacob D. Vakkayil from Finland and is entitled “Learning through shared objects in outsourced software development”. This paper focuses on how shared objects created by support departments in a software development firm facilitate the advancement of learning and knowledge sharing. Objects can be both facilitative and restrictive in certain ways, and the study seeks to enhance our understanding of how they can be made more facilitative. Striving to understand objects with a focus on their often unanticipated usage can be instrumental in making them more facilitative. While emphasizing that objects are not used coherently in the field, the study explores how they could be made more facilitative by focusing on situated ways in which they act in the field. It was observed that they could become more facilitative by being shells with higher degrees of configurability, by being legitimate facades that create interesting contexts of multi-project interactions and by being anchors of stability in an organizational setting of constant flux. An enhanced understanding of the dynamics of objects in project settings can enable project personnel and support service personnel to make them more facilitative. For researchers, this study contributes to the discussions on understanding objects by proposing new ways of looking at the role of objects in project-based organizations.

The fifth paper, entitled “The implications of trust in relationships in managing construction projects” is written by Ellen Lau and Steve Rowlinson from Hong Kong. The paper examines trust relationships in managing construction projects to determine the trust situations, the psychological perception of trust relationship and the underlying value of trust. Association is made to project management, project team and strategy implementation for managing construction projects. The research it reports upon used a case study approach to collect qualitative data from ten projects which was then analysed with content analysis to frame an approach to the analysis with discussion on a flow model and interactive model. Implications for practice for this work include:

  • Project management. Time, cost and quality are greatly affected by people implementation and therefore a balance of control and trust is required.

  • Project team. Trust needs to be cultivated with rules and norms in a multi-party working team because trust is not self-generated.

  • Strategy implementation. Both interpersonal and inter-firm trust have to be considered, particularly at the middle management level.

The sixth paper follows the relationship-based project delivery theme of the fifth paper. This is written by Albertus Laan, Hans Voordijk and Geert Dewulf from Holland and is entitled “Reducing opportunistic behaviour through a project alliance”. This paper will be of particular interest to readers who are interested in the emerging forms of relationship-based project procurement and delivery. This paper reports on research using a longitudinal study of a complex construction project in which the contract was changed at the end of the negotiation period from a design-build into a project alliance form. Data show that opportunistic behaviour is reduced when there is an incentive structure, as is to be found in project alliances, for client and contractor organizations to cooperatively realize the project. However, it is not sufficient for project partners to agree upon an appropriate incentive structure. For cooperative relationships to develop, they also have to put substantial efforts into reducing their remaining inclinations to make use of opportunities that arise to deviate from the alliance contract. The paper argues that both principals and contractors not only need to carefully select staff for such projects; they also have to work with the people employed such that appropriate attitudes are reinforced and rewarded. Developing cooperative relationships in project alliances needs the surrounding working methods to offer support. This paper is an important contribution to an emerging PM topic.

This issue also contains a research note by Charles Smith from the UK. This is entitled “Understanding project manager identities: a framework for research”. Charles Smith was actively involved with the “re-thinking PM” research group and is a highly respected practitioner. He also wrote the very interesting book “Making sense of project realities: theory, practice and the pursuit of performance” published in 2007 by Gower and he has also written for this journal with Mark Winter. Charles proposes a framework for researching the possibilities for project manager identities: the multiple ways there are of being a performer, as a manager, in the world of projects. His line of enquiry is to seek evidence of project manager identity within real-life stories told by practitioners. His perspective is: that identity is produced through action, that action and identity are framed by social narratives, and that identities and the strategies that create and support them are therefore evident in project stories. The primary purpose of his research is to inform personal learning and educational programmes. It is important for us to gain an enriched understanding of what it means to be a professional in the project world as this can enhance the awareness of individuals learning to perform roles and making choices in this field.

Two doctoral thesis research report notes are also presented in this issue. The first entitled “Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: the case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting” is written by Thommie Burström from Umeå School of Business – Management, Umeå University in Sweden. Thommie’s thesis contributes to the understanding of how boundaries are organized in early phases of new product development. The thesis explores the reality of project member’s attempts to create a shared vehicle platform. It is based on the vehicle design and delivery PM context and this is valuable because there are few papers published in this area. His thesis can be accessed from URL:

The second PhD thesis research note is written by Lavagnon A. Ika entitled “The empirical relationship between success factors and dimensions: the perspectives of World Bank project supervisors and managers” that he undertook in Quebec, Canada. His supervisors Amadou Diallo and Denis Thuillier, Département de management et technologie, École des sciences de la gestion, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada are co-authors. His PhD thesis examined the empirical relationship between a specific set of critical success factors, project success, and success dimensions (criteria) as regarded from the perspectives of World Bank project supervisors (task managers or task team leaders) and project managers (the national project coordinators). This is very important field for PM as there are few PhDs being undertaken in this interesting area from a PM perspective and humanitarian projects are vital to the well being of many societies. This note also highlights how not all PhD journeys are smooth and that while undertaking a thesis format that is novel to any particular university can be rewarding, it can also present university system and regulatory barriers that need to be overcome.

This issue also contains one book review. It is entitled The Oxford Handbook of Project Management edited by Peter Morris, Jeffrey Pinto, and Jonas Söderlund is reviewed by Derek Walker. This book follows in the tradition of other handbooks of PM edited by Morris and Pinto but really does extend the boundaries of PM and so will be of great interest to the PM community.

We also provide a call for papers for a special issue to be presented in 2013. An update on forthcoming events, conferences and useful PM links is, as usual, provided.

Finally, I would like to thank all the reviewers and authors who have generously given time and energy to make this last issue section possible for 2011.

Derek H.T. Walker