Walker, D.H.T. (2013), "Editorial", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 6 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijmpb.2013.35306caa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Volume 6, Issue 3
From the Editor
Derek H.T. Walker, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About this issue
This third issue for 2013, Volume 6 comprises 12 papers and a book review. There are seven regular papers, three research notes, two thesis research notes (TRNs) and a book review.
The first regular paper entitled “The informal liaison role of project controllers in new product development projects” is written by Thommie Burström and Mattias Jacobsson both from the Umeå School of Business – Management at Umeå University, Sweden though Thommie is now employed by the Hanken School of Economics in Finland. This paper explores and analyses the liaison role of project controllers in new product development (NPD) projects through analysis of a comprehensive case study in the truck industry. They found that project controllers play a crucial part of the everyday work in projects – both formally and informally. They conclude that project controllers undertake important liaison activities that are not a part of their formal roles in which they extend their responsibilities to include informal activities such as peacekeeping, probing, nailing, process implementation, and streamlining. By viewing the project controller as someone who is “dressing the project in numbers”, the role can be understood as a support function aimed at close interaction and cross-functional learning, rather than a function aimed at distant supervision and control.
The second paper, “Cultural values influencing project team success: an empirical investigation in Ethiopia” was authored by Fanta T. Jetu from the College of Telecommunications and Information Technology in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and René Riedl from the University of Linz in Austria. They argue that while information systems research in developing countries (DCs) has attracted increasing attention over recent years, empirical studies in these countries, particularly those drawing on the cultural values influencing project team success, are still far from satisfactory. Their paper contributes to this knowledge gap with a study of 200 project experts working on business process reengineering and information technology projects in ten public and private organisations in the service sector in Ethiopia. Results indicate personally focused cultural values (e.g. openness to change) rather than socially focused cultural values (e.g. self-transcendence) have the most significant influence on project team performance. Moreover, cultural values (independent of their designation as personally or socially focused) were found to have a strong relationship with two out of three dimensions of project team success, namely project team learning and development, as well as project team working spirit, when compared to project team leadership. We are fortunate to gain access to insights from this part of the world.
The third paper takes us to another country in Africa, entitled “Forms of power, politics and leadership in asynchronous virtual project environment: an exploratory analysis in South Africa” by Nixon Muganda and Kiyashen Pillay from the University of Pretoria in Pretoria Republic of South Africa. Their paper investigates the forms of power, politics and leadership exercised by project leaders within asynchronous virtual project environments (VPEs). They link effective project leadership to particular forms of power and politics within a VPE. Factor analysis of the type of leadership exercised within an asynchronous VPE revealed two forms of effective leadership. The first one, named, structured charismatic exchange, is underpinned by three forms of leadership styles: charismatic, virtual and transactional leadership. The factor analysis also revealed significant loadings for what was named, participative and shared leadership. The common strand in both is the need to elevate the ethos of teams, which effectively implies that control in VPE ought to be decentralised responsibly to enhance sharing. This is possibly relevant in a bid to minimise conflicts and thus develop a project organisation that encourages teamwork. They conclude that project leaders should re-orient leadership practices to fit virtual project environments, taking into account the need for a more decentralised form of leadership and systematic trust building.
The fourth paper, “Stakeholder management: the sociodynamic approach” by Paul Walley from the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, provides us with a healthcare perspective on project management. The paper investigates whether or not traditional methods of sociodynamic profiling are useful as an analytical management approach to manage stakeholders in projects that are likely to experience high degrees of resistance to change. Three case studies were used as part of an action research project where 80 people involved in the projects were given semi-structured interviews. The approach identified the stakeholder mechanisms that cause one project to fail and showed how and why the two other projects succeeded after adapting their approaches. The study extends our understanding of stakeholder management and engagement within a complex situation of healthcare facility change projects.
The fifth paper, “The appraisal of ICT and non-ICT capital projects: a study of the current practices of large UK organisations” by Frank Lefley from the University of Hradec Kralove in the Czech Republic and the Royal Holloway University of London identifies current practice in respect of the appraisal of both ICT and non-ICT capital investments. It elicited the opinions of senior executives on various issues concerning such investment practices and presents evidence of the financial and risk assessment models used by practitioners in the appraisal of both ICT and non-ICT capital projects. The study concludes that there was no significant difference between ICT and non-ICT appraisals in this respect. It does, however, show that there are significant differences between the two types of projects in respect to other important appraisal/evaluation issues. It also uncovers important issues regarding, ICT globalisation, project champions, post audits and appraisal teams. The paper presents data that will assist both practitioners and academics to gain a greater understanding of the appraisal of both ICT and non-ICT projects thus paving the way to better decision-making in the future.
The sixth paper presents additional insights and findings from a study of PM success factors and practices across Canada, the UK and Australia. The paper is entitled “An exploratory study of project success with tools, software and methods” written by Kam Jugdev from Athabasca University – Centre for Innovative Management, Alberta, Canada, David Perkins from Grand Canyon University – Ken Blanchard College of Business Phoenix, Arizona, USA, Joyce Fortune and Diana White of the Open University – Department of Communication and Systems, Milton Keynes and Derek Walker of RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. It examines the relationships between project delivery success factors, project management tools, software, and methods through a statistical analysis of data from a survey from a purposive sample of 150 participants across three countries (Australia, Canada and the UK). The findings were used to consider the relationships between project success factors, project management tools, software, and methods. This presents a further quantitative perspective that compliments the study’s previously reported findings in Fortune, J., White, D., Jugdev, K. and Walker, D.H.T. (2011), “Looking again at current practice in project management”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 553-572. The findings reveal certain insights into the use of tools and methodologies. Of all the variables measured, the number of project management tools used and the number of risk tools used, showed the highest direct correlation. They therefore surmise that the use of tools from one of these categories is often coincident with the use of tools from the other category. Also, the use of project management tools exhibited less variability as compared to use of information communication technology support tools and risk management tools. In addition, use of formal project management methods exhibited less variability than use of formal decision making methods. They therefore suggest that use of project management tools and methods is more consistent across the organisations studied, as compared to other tools and methods.
The seventh paper by Jonas Söderlund from BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway is entitled “Managing temporal misfits in institutional environments: a study of critical incidents in a complex public projects”. The paper conceptualises time as an important dimension of institutions and, more specifically, to develop the analysis of institutions, time, and temporal misfits. It explores these matters in the context of an inter-institutional project where actors, who represent different organisational fields and respond to different institutional requirements with regards to time and timing, and need to collaborate. The research centres on three critical incidents taken from a study of a large-scale telecom project in Norway. The paper is based on an analysis of public documents and 35 interviews with key stakeholders and managers in the focal project. This research shows that temporal misfits are a critical, yet understudied, element of project organising. The paper suggests and discusses three primary measures – detecting, correcting, and escaping – that project management makes use of to resolve temporal misfits among the actors involved. The paper proposes a typology of temporal misfits (phase and tempo) and different types of complexity (analysable and systemic) to advance the analysis of problems facing projects in institutionally-bounded settings.
We also present three very interesting research notes that we feel readers will find intensely stimulating and thought provoking.
Initially I received a research note submitted by Mattias Jacobsson, Thommie Burström and Timothy Wilson from the Umeå School of Business – Management, Umeå University, Sweden though Thommie is now employed by the Hanken School of Economics in Finland. It was entitled “The role of transition in temporary organizations: linking the temporary to the permanent” and its purpose was to put the role of transition back in the centre of the temporary organisation in understanding the temporary organization as a transitory unit within the permanent organisation. The aim was to reactivate theory development within this field of research and promote a dialog that will point to a possible way forward. It drew upon the article “A theory of the temporary organization”, Lundin and Söderholm (1995) along with inspiration from Cyert and March (1963) through the classical contribution “A behavior theory of the firm”. Four things were achieved by the paper. First, the conceptualisation of temporary organisation was simplified – five variables have been reduced to four in eliminating “action” as an element of description. Second, the conceptualisation was extended to include constructs of the permanent organisation. Third, the theory was strengthened by providing an extended framework that potentially could be examined to check observations against theory. Finally, directions were suggested for future theory development to take place.
I sent the Jacobsson et al. paper for review to Rolf Lundin and Karlos Artto and this triggered a very interesting debate between all three parties, Jacobsson et al. and two reviewers. I then asked Rolf, Karlos and Mattias if we could experiment with the original paper and the review comments to produce three research note papers that centred on the Jacobbson, Burström and Wilson original paper but that Rolf and Karlos could, and would, expand their original discussion made in the (excellent in terms of detail and insights) review comments. After several iterations of review, clarification and exploration we now have the three research notes presented in this issue. I hope that readers will find this experiment a stimulating success as reading the three research notes together makes for some interesting discussion on theory and practice and how the ideas get re-calibrated over time.
The second research note is entitled “Temporary organizations and end states: a theory is a child of its time and in need of reconsideration and reconstruction” by Rolf Lundin at Jönköping International Business School, Sweden and Anders Söderholm from Mid Sweden University. By describing/analysing the context within which the article “A theory” was developed, the notion that any theory is a child of its time is explicated. Thus, an understanding for the need for reconsideration and reconstruction in social science theory is created. In their paper they argue that a necessary step in the work is to come up with ideas as to how crucial elements get transformed and are related to social development. The argument is that when it comes to the use of the word project which is under change, that change creates a tension as to the appropriate realm for a theory of temporary organisations. A theory building on the notion of an end state is tentatively proposed and appears to be useful. The practical implications we get from this paper is the view that a theory incorporating the end state notion opens up for new ideas on how to manage projects. The traditional project management guidelines might actually inhibit good solutions to focused behaviour. An end state approach is more open for changes in the environment and in ambitions.
The third research note was written by Karlos Artto from Aalto University, Finland and is entitled “A chunk view of research into temporary organizations”. He builds in this paper upon reviews he undertook on the two other research notes and also (at my request) introduces as an extension to these ideas, a concept that Karlos has been developing over the past few years and has presented preliminary airing of them at various forums and symposia. I was present at the 3rd International Project Business Workshop 2012, held in September 2012 in Brighton, UK in which he presented the idea of “organisations as chunks”. As a result I suggested that he should incorporate these into this research note paper because I could see how it formed a continuum of idea development that would be of value in this troika of research notes.
Two TRNs follow providing us with insights on current doctoral work being undertaken in project management. The first TRN is entitled “Using organizational knowledge for the selection of construction methods” by Ximena Ferrada and Alfredo Serpell from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. Her research expands the analysis of the construction methods’ selection process with a deeper analysis of this activity, understanding how is applied in a project, what knowledge is required to make a good decision and offering a system to manage this knowledge, recognising the particular characteristics of the process and the industry. It was undertaken in Chile and so is useful in helping us gain some insights into construction PM practices in that part of South America and to also better understand how this PhD journey was undertaken in a South American context.
The second TRN is entitled “Factors affecting capital program performance audit findings” by Alexia Nalewaik, from QS Requin Corporation, Altadena, California. She completed her PhD at Skema Business School, Lille France. The TRN reports on her research study which was conducted by gathering a large sample of publicly available statutorily-required performance audits from complex capital programs, extracting factor data from the audit reports, and objectively and empirically comparing the effects of different factors on audit results. In addition, data from expenditure audits and risk-based audits was gathered for comparison regarding audit scope. By focusing on facts, and using large samples of data to establish a view of the phenomena, in order to explain facts through testing of hypotheses, the research stance adopted was Positivist in nature. The overall research methodology employed was quantitative, and based on largely categorical data. The goal was to define key components in the execution of performance audits, in order to improve performance audit procurement and process, impacting findings and thus their applicability and usefulness as a project performance improvement mechanism. Revised audit methodologies resulting from this research may be applied to complex, multifaceted or phased activities, projects, and programs; to both private and public sector; in construction; in non-construction industries such as information technology and manufacturing; and in other endeavours such as major event planning, company launches, and mega-activity implementations. This illustrates a thesis topic and method that would be considered unusual for many traditional PhDs and demonstrates the breadth of approaches and topics now being studied at doctoral level.
Derek H.T. Walker