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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2019

Shankar Sankaran, Anne Live Vaagaasar and Michiel Christian Bekker

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how project managers, influence the assignment of project team members by directly assigning or specifying who they want or by…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how project managers, influence the assignment of project team members by directly assigning or specifying who they want or by indirectly using lateral influence strategies to secure the appropriate resources. This study is part of a wider study investigating the balance between vertical and horizontal leadership in projects in which nomination (or assignment) was identified as a key event contributing to balancing the leadership. It focuses specifically on the nomination or assignment event at the start of a project.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the philosophy of critical realism, case studies were used to collect data through 70 semi-structured interviews in Australia, Scandinavia and South Africa. Interviews were conducted with senior managers, project managers and project team members. Two project team members who worked with the same project manager were interviewed to gather diverse views. The data were analyzed individually by researchers from each location using a coding method proposed by Miles et al. (2014). The researchers then jointly analyzed the findings to arrive at five common themes from that explained how team members were assigned in practice.

Findings

Despite the recognized need for project managers to form their own teams, this study found that project team members were often assigned by others. This was because project managers lacked authority to secure their resources. Therefore, they used lateral influence strategies to help with assigning project team members. The study identified five lateral influencing strategies adopted by project managers to assign team members: creating an image of competence; creating coalitions; taking a gamble; waiting for the right moment; and reasoning with facts. Two of these lateral influencing strategies were not identified in the previous literature on influencing strategies used in organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The findings should not be viewed as representative of the respective continents where the cases were studied. However, this study contributes to the literature on project management, illuminating how project teams are assigned and by whom and, specifically, the role that influence plays during this event of the balanced leadership theory. It also identifies the types of lateral influence strategies used by project managers when assigning team members to their projects. It provides a pathway to explore the use of lateral influencing strategies by project managers beyond the assignment process.

Practical implications

This study will help project managers to become aware of influencing strategies that they can use in practice while assigning team members to their projects. It will also highlight the importance of assigning the right resources to projects with a view to achieving balanced leadership.

Originality/value

This research is of value to organizations using projects to successfully deliver their strategies by assigning suitable resources to their projects.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 13 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2019

Anne Live Vaagaasar, Ralf Müller and Donatella De Paoli

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the triadic relationship between project workspace (i.e. spatial context), project type and project manager’s leadership style…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the triadic relationship between project workspace (i.e. spatial context), project type and project manager’s leadership style. It develops the concept of leadership construct (i.e. mental models of leadership to predispose the way leadership is performed) to explain related preferences for workspace and behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

A combination of phenomenological inquiry on preferred workspaces in different project types is combined with a conceptual study on related leadership styles in these settings.

Findings

Four different leadership constructs are identified, which are conditioned by workspace and project type: one-on-one, virtual, interactive and mixed leadership. Also, four leadership patterns are identified, and these are related to open office and virtual office settings in product, service, software development and infrastructure construction projects.

Research limitations/implications

The results show the interaction of workspace, project type and leadership styles, which extends existing leadership theory and provides more granularity in determining appropriate leadership styles for project managers.

Practical implications

Practitioners benefit from a more conscious selection of appropriate leadership styles, which positively impacts project results.

Originality/value

By linking workspace, project type and leadership styles, the study is the first of its kind and a novel contribution to theory in project leadership.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 September 2018

Nathalie Drouin, Ralf Müller, Shankar Sankaran and Anne Live Vaagaasar

The purpose of this paper is twofold: to identify how horizontal leaders (within project teams) execute their leadership task in the context of balanced leadership; and to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold: to identify how horizontal leaders (within project teams) execute their leadership task in the context of balanced leadership; and to pinpoint scenarios that can occur when horizontal leaders are identified and empowered by the vertical leader (senior or project managers) and a project task is handed over to them to lead. This research is based on the concept of balanced leadership, which conceptualizes leadership as a dynamic, situation-dependent transition of leadership authority from a vertical leader (like a project manager) to a horizontal leader (a project team member) and back again, in order to contribute positively to a project’s success. Balanced leadership consists of five events (nomination, identification, empowerment, horizontal leadership and its governance, and transition). This paper focuses on the fourth event, and its specific aspect of leadership distribution between horizontal and vertical leader. This event begins when a team member(s) accepts the empowerment to assume the role of horizontal leader. This paper explicitly links the leadership style of the vertical leader based on Frame’s (1987) leadership styles and the nature of decisions taken by both the vertical and horizontal leaders to deliver the project.

Design/methodology/approach

The method used for this paper is the qualitative phase of a sequential mixed methods (qualitative-quantitative) study. Data were collected through case studies in four different countries, using a maximum variety sampling approach. Data collection was through interviews of vertical leaders (senior leaders who were often sponsors of projects or members of senior management or project managers) and horizontal leaders (team leaders or members) in a variety of industry sectors. Data analysis was done through initial coding and constant comparison to arrive at themes. Thematic analysis was used to gain knowledge about the split of leadership and decision-making authority between the horizontal and vertical leader(s).

Findings

The results show that for Canadian and Australian projects, a combination of autocratic and democratic leadership styles were used by vertical leaders. In the case of Scandinavian projects, a democratic leadership style has been observed. Linked to these leadership styles, the horizontal decision making is predominantly focused on technical decisions and to daily task decisions to deliver the project. Delegation occurs most of the time to one specific team member, but occasionally to several team members simultaneously, for them to work collaboratively on a given issue.

Research limitations/implications

The paper supports a deeper investigation into a leadership theory, by validating one particular event of the balanced leadership theory, which is based on Archer’s (1995) realist social theory. The findings from this paper will guide organizations to facilitate an effective approach to balancing the leadership roles between vertical and horizontal leaders in their projects. The findings can also be used to develop horizontal leaders to take up more responsibilities in projects.

Originality/value

The originality lies in the new leadership theory called balanced leadership, and its empirical validation. It is the first study on the leadership task distribution between vertical and horizontal leadership in projects. Its value is new insights, which allow practitioners to develop practices to find and empower the best possible leader at any given time in the project and academics to develop a more dynamic and, therefore, more realistic theory on leadership as it unfolds in projects.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2011

Anne Live Vaagaasar

The purpose of this paper is to increase our understanding of how stakeholder relationships develop and how projects can develop the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to increase our understanding of how stakeholder relationships develop and how projects can develop the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes required to handle a multitude of stakeholder relationships. The objective is to provide in‐depth descriptions of what makes up these relationship competencies.

Design/methodology/approach

A longitudinal study was made of a complex technology project. The project was followed for a year and a half. The data material includes more than 20 in‐depth interviews with key actors of the project context and more than 300 hours of participant observations.

Findings

The results show that project competencies in stakeholder management are emergent phenomena which develop through trial and error, and how they, over time, appear as cultivated and fine‐tuned capabilities of communicating. This communication involves narrating, differentiated, yet carefully balanced stories. Little by little, the project's interaction patterns become fine‐tuned and sensitive, with regard to the content and framing, not the least of which is the timing of messages.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is suggested on the development and characteristics of relationship competencies in a project context. Especially, the extent it includes narration and also the characteristics of this narration; how and when is it used and what are the effects.

Practical implications

Project teams should be aware of how they can use stories strategically to deal with a multitude of stakeholder relationships.

Originality/value

Studies on project behavior have been called for. The orginality in this paper lies in the fine‐grained in‐depth descriptions of how a project actually copes with a multitude of stakeholders.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2009

Erling S. Andersen, Anders Dysvik and Anne Live Vaagaasar

Does the organizational culture of the base organization affect the way its projects are carried out? The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between…

Abstract

Purpose

Does the organizational culture of the base organization affect the way its projects are carried out? The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between one aspect of organizational culture, namely the formal rationality of the base organization and how projects are approached. The concept of McDonaldization is used to describe formal rationality; it covers four aspects: efficiency, predictability, calculability and control. Two types of approaches (here called project perspectives) to project management are studied: the task perspective (focus on a clearly defined endeavour from the start of the project) and the organizational perspective (focus on supporting the base organization in its change efforts). The relationship between formal rationality of the base organization and choice of project perspective is revealed.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical study based on a survey of 164 managers.

Findings

The paper shows that the degree of formal organizational rationality affects choice of project perspective: the more rational the base organization, the more dominant the task perspective. The size of the project is of significance, telling us that, in general, larger projects are less task‐ oriented than smaller and medium‐ sized, everything else being equal.

Research limitations/implications

Further studies may be of interest to reveal the relationship between organizational culture of the base organization and project management. Better operationalizations of the constructs of rationality and project perspective are presented, which opens up for further studies on the relationship between rationality and project management.

Practical implications

It is important for managers to know that the way the project work is approached is affected by the organizational rationality of the base organization.

Originality/value

The paper shows the importance of the organizational culture of the base organization, especially the degree of formal rationality, for how project work is done. It presents new operationalizations of formal rationality and project perspective to make way for further studies on the relationship between organizational rationality and project management.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 2 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 5 April 2011

Derek H.T. Walker

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 September 2009

Derek H.T. Walker

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 2 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2021

Tingting Cao, Giorgio Locatelli, Nigel Smith and Lianying Zhang

Megaprojects present an intricated pattern of leadership activities, which evolve over their planning and delivery and comprises several stakeholders. A framework is…

Abstract

Purpose

Megaprojects present an intricated pattern of leadership activities, which evolve over their planning and delivery and comprises several stakeholders. A framework is useful to navigate this complexity; it allows to identify and cluster the key elements. This paper aims to introduce a novel framework based on boundary spanners to describe the structural pattern of shared leadership in megaprojects.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature review about boundary spanning and shared leadership is used to identify and cluster the key elements of shared leadership in megaprojects. The systematic literature review provides a rich theoretical background to develop the novel shared leadership framework based on boundary spanners.

Findings

There are three key dimensions characterizing shared leadership topology in megaprojects: stakeholders, boundary spanning leadership roles and project phases. The novel framework shows how project leadership dynamically transfers among different stakeholders, showing the importance of shared leadership as a leadership paradigm in megaprojects.

Research limitations/implications

The novel framework epitomizes shared leadership in megaprojects by exploring its antecedents with social network metrics. This paper stresses that shared leadership is the envisaged form of leadership in megaprojects. By modeling complex project leadership in a simple, yet effective way, the framework fosters critical thinking for future research. The modeling introduced by this framework would also benefit practitioners in charge of megaprojects.

Originality/value

The paper moves the project leadership research to the network-level by taking boundary spanners as shared leadership roles in megaprojects. It shows how shared leadership is a valuable management tool for planning and delivery megaprojects.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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