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Article
Publication date: 5 September 2016

Lavagnon A. Ika and Jonas Söderlund

The purpose of this paper is to review and analyze Albert Hirschman’s landmark book Development Projects Observed, share its insights for managing big projects, discuss…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review and analyze Albert Hirschman’s landmark book Development Projects Observed, share its insights for managing big projects, discuss its theoretical implications and how it may contribute to the current understanding of project behavior, project management (PM), and in what way it may encourage the rethinking of PM.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an in-depth analysis of Hirschman’s book. The paper draws on the writings of Jeremy Adelman who authored Hirschman’s biography, Cass Sunstein and Michele Alacevich who, respectively, wrote the foreword and afterword of the Brookings Institution classic published in 2014. It also profits from the work of Robert Picciotto who first met Hirschman in 1964, and Bent Flyvbjerg who recently offered a test of validity for Hirschman’s “Hiding Hand” principle.

Findings

Albert Hirschman was an original thinker and, the authors argue in many ways, a father of PM scholarship. His ideas had profound implications for social sciences and lasting influence in academy, policy, and practice. Although, to a great extent based on studies of projects, his ideas have had surprisingly little impact on modern writings of PM. This paper contributes to amending this weakness in current literature on PM. The authors identify in Hirschman’s book a set of core ideas that possess analytical power for explaining problems in contemporary PM. They include the principle of the Hiding Hand, the power of context, the role of complexity and uncertainty, the unexpected project effects, project traits, and latitudes/disciplines. For all his work and way of research, the authors conclude that Hirschman is not only an early behavioral theorist in PM but equally an early rethinker of PM.

Originality/value

This is the first paper that offers a discussion of Hirschman’s ideas on contemporary projects, how to understand them, their behavior, including the principle of the Hiding Hand and other important nuggets of wisdom in his research such as the significance of project traits, latitudes, and disciplines. The authors discuss in what respects these ideas may enlighten PM practice and theory. This paper also conveys the novel idea that Hirschman is an early rethinker of PM.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 13 September 2011

Lavagnon A. Ika, Amadou Diallo and Denis Thuillier

The purpose of this paper is to report on a PhD thesis that examined the empirical relationship between a specific set of critical success factors (CSFs), project success…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on a PhD thesis that examined the empirical relationship between a specific set of critical success factors (CSFs), project success, and success dimensions (criteria) from the perspectives of World Bank project supervisors (task managers or task team leaders) and project managers (the national project coordinators). Also, the PhD thesis author's journey and motivation are explained.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected by web questionnaires addressed to 1,421 World Bank task team leaders and paper‐based questionnaires delivered to 600 national project coordinators in 26 different countries in Africa. Principal component and confirmatory factor analyses, multiple correlation and regression analyses, as well as structural equation models were used for data analysis in this study.

Findings

First, research findings highlight a specific set of World Bank project CSFs (monitoring, coordination, design, training) and the existence of a second‐order latent CSF, that is World Bank project supervision. Second, they suggest that World Bank project supervision has differing significant influences on the two project success dimensions and that the first (project management (PM) success) does not significantly affect the second (deliverable success). Third, consistent with theory and practice, they suggest that the most prominent CSFs for both World Bank project supervisors and managers are design and monitoring. Fourth, they suggest that for the national project coordinators, project success is insensitive to the level of design efforts but a significant correlation does exist between monitoring efforts and project “profile”, a success dimension which is an early pointer of long‐term deliverable success (impact).

Originality/value

This study offers insights into the relationship between success factors and dimensions for ID projects with the perspectives of both the World Bank project supervisors and managers. The thesis calls for further research on PM in the ID industry sector.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Lavagnon A. Ika and Jan Saint‐Macary

The purpose of this paper is to improve understanding and practice of project management by assessing whether two of its core myths also prevail in international…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to improve understanding and practice of project management by assessing whether two of its core myths also prevail in international development (ID): first, that project managers (PMs) plan fully for project success, including implementation success and end‐user satisfaction; and second, that they can focus on “getting things done”, free of concern for strategic issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis of a high‐profile World Bank project and of the policies and rules under which their PMs operate serves as a means to carry out the research. The authors uncover certain “facts” that challenge the myths that prevail in standard project management. Furthermore, they examine how these facts and the corollaries they produce guide the behaviours of PMs differently in the ID field.

Findings

In the ID field, and contrary to the standard practice in project management, it is found that: PMs are not involved in overall planning, and are limited to implementation planning, because they lack the necessary latitude. Hence, they practice project implementation as the art of avoiding making mistakes as they juggle donor procedures and guidelines. Second, PMs are well informed about the overall strategy of their project, which is articulated by the donors and the beneficiary country, but they are limited in their ability to contribute directly to its success. Thus, they may fail to deliver the intended development strategy even if they “get things done”.

Research limitations/implications

This paper argues that these two core PM tenets are convenient myths at best, given the asymmetrical distribution of power, the strong front‐end activity, and the procedures orientation of international development projects.

Practical implications

This paper addresses questions regarding the nature and the content of the work of PMs in the context of ID. In contrast to other sectors, projects are found to be linked more clearly to the higher strategic issues, and yet PMs are less empowered to contribute to them. Thus, all stakeholders may have to revise their expectations regarding what PMs can realistically do in ID. These findings are relevant to scholars and practitioners alike.

Originality/value

The value of this paper lies in examining the basic question of “what PMs do”. Although ID has been project‐oriented since the 1950s, this question has not received much attention in standard PM literature. In assessing “what PMs do”, the paper also brings into question “what project management is”.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2010

Lavagnon A. Ika, Amadou Diallo and Denis Thuillier

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the empirical relationship between project management (PM) efforts (the extent to which national project coordinators (NPCs) – the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the empirical relationship between project management (PM) efforts (the extent to which national project coordinators (NPCs) – the project managers in the aid industry sector – make use of available PM tools), project success, and success criteria.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected by way of questionnaires delivered by mail to 600 recipients in 26 different countries in Africa.

Findings

The research results suggest that project success is insensitive to the level of project planning efforts but a significant correlation does exist between the use of monitoring and evaluation tools and project “profile,” a success criterion which is an early pointer of project long‐term impact.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to PM research by exploring the relationship between the use of PM tools and project success in the non‐traditional PM – although project oriented – aid industry sector. The paper highlights self‐perceptions of NPCs and should not be interpreted in other ways.

Practical implications

This paper highlights the importance of PM tools in practice. Further, it suggests that NPCs (who are in fact only involved in project execution) put a lot of effort into monitoring and evaluation. In so doing, they strive to ensure project performance and accountability throughout project lifecycle, and this contributes to project “profile.”

Originality/value

This is the first study that offers insights into the relationship between PM efforts and project success in the aid industry sector. The paper calls for further research on PM practices in the aid industry sector where projects remain important instruments for aid delivery.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Content available
Article
Publication date: 13 September 2011

Derek H.T. Walker

Abstract

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Markus Hällgren and Marcus Lindahl

The purpose of this editorial is to reflect on the growing interest of situated project research.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this editorial is to reflect on the growing interest of situated project research.

Design/methodology/approach

The editorial is conceptual and relies on published work and the articles included in the special issue.

Findings

With this special issue it is found that practice‐based studies, also called Projects‐as‐Practice studies, interested in the everyday activities of project practitioners, are multi‐faceted and rich. What may also be seen is that practice‐based studies are not yet a coherent area. However, it is more important that practice‐based studies allow researchers to understand the organization less as an entity and more as a socially‐accomplished task.

Research limitations/implications

Several implications for research are offered, including the need for studies that emphasize the small details of organizing, and that practice‐based studies are not restricted to a certain methodology but depend on what a particular paper tries to accomplish.

Practical implications

With an ever‐growing stream of research focusing on projects the guest editors argue that it is about time to look into the details of organizing. This could be accomplished through a number of ways but in this special issue it is proposed that approaching traditional areas with a conscious naivety when asking the questions may do it. For the practitioner, the special issue offers important insights into how things are done in practice, which may be used as a mirror or reflection upon their own practice.

Originality/value

This editorial and special issue offer insights for any academic interested in understanding projects differently.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 19 February 2021

Somnoma Edouard Kabore, Seydou Sane and Pascaline Abo

The aim of this study is to evaluate to what extent the project team size influence the relation between transformational leadership and success of international…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to evaluate to what extent the project team size influence the relation between transformational leadership and success of international development projects (IDPs). The paper draws on leader-member-exchange (LMX) theory and contextualizes transformational leadership style to temporary project environment particularly that of an official development assistance project in an African context.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on the processing of a primary database collected by questionnaire from 111 coordinators of IDPs in Benin. The structural equation method based on the PLS approach was used to test our hypotheses.

Findings

First, the preliminary results reveal that, in the context of IDP, projects managers are much more sensitive to the “management” and “visibility” dimensions than to the “impact” dimension of project success. Then, following the hypothesis test, the results show that transformational leadership has a direct positive influence on the success of IDP. Project team size does not play a moderating role in the relationship between transformational leadership and project success. Also, considering the effect of the specific dimensions of transformational leadership on IDP success, only the “idealized influence” dimension influences directly and positively on the latter.

Originality/value

Research calls for examining the role of team size vis-à-vis transformational leadership style and project success and calls in general for studying project manager's leadership styles. This study contributes to literature by answering such calls. In addition, the originality of this study lies in the evaluation of the influence of the specific dimensions because the exclusive use of leadership forms provides an imperfect and oversimplified picture of reality.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 42 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

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Article
Publication date: 6 June 2016

Mohamed Yamin and Adriel K.S. Sim

The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of local project teams on critical success factors and project success in the context of international development…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of local project teams on critical success factors and project success in the context of international development projects in Maldives. It identifies the critical success factors of international development projects, examines how the success of international development projects in Maldives is perceived by local project team members, and analyzes the relationship between critical success factors and project success from the project teams’ perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey questionnaire was used and 41 project team members participated in the study. Correlation analysis and regression analysis were performed to understand the relationship with project success and critical success factors.

Findings

The study found out that the levels of success of projects were perceived high among the project teams. The results indicated that monitoring CSF, coordination CSF, design CSF, training CSF, and institutional environment CSF had a significant relationship with project success. However, results of the regression analysis indicated that only monitoring CSF was significant in influencing project success.

Research limitations/implications

The limited sample size and optimism bias of respondents were a constraint. Furthermore, further analysis of data may be required to advance analysis.

Originality/value

The study looks through the lens of project implementation teams in order to provide insights from their vantage point. The study provides insights based on the Maldivian context which will benefit similar island nation communities implementing similar projects.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 5 September 2016

Derek Walker

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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