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Article

Muhammad Sajid Khattak and Usman Mustafa

The complexity of projects has become a serious issue and obstacle in their successful completion. In order to overcome these complexities, it has become imperative to…

Abstract

Purpose

The complexity of projects has become a serious issue and obstacle in their successful completion. In order to overcome these complexities, it has become imperative to identify the relevant management competencies of project managers. The purpose of this paper is to address the problem of cost, time and scope in engineering infrastructure projects due to their complexities through management competencies.

Design/methodology/approach

In the first phase of the study, 32 experts were interviewed through semi-structured pre-tested questionnaire. In this phase, essential elements of complexities were identified initially. This was followed by finding required dimensions of competencies to counter these complexities and to acquire improved performance. In the final stage, required levels of competencies for specific elements of complexity were identified. In the second phase, 85 “project managers” were also approached to get feedback about their recently completed public sector engineering infrastructure projects in Pakistan.

Findings

The study identified additional dimensions, i.e. honesty, enthusiasm and dedication, in the case of competencies and adverse law and order situation, political instability, land issues, energy crisis and weak authorization of project managers in the case of complexities. Leadership, management skill, communication skill, effectiveness and result orientation were identified as top quality traits required. The study concluded that there is a significant impact of management competencies and complexities on project performance.

Originality/value

The study contributes to a better understanding of how to improve performance in complex engineering infrastructure projects through adopting management competencies. It also empirically illustrates the relations among project management competencies, complexities and project performance. Although the research is grounded on public sector infrastructure projects, its findings may also be helpful for practices in project management of other sectors.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 26 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

Wise Mainga

The purpose of this paper is to use survey data to rank the relative importance of perceived factors that inhibit the transfer of knowledge across projects and examine the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use survey data to rank the relative importance of perceived factors that inhibit the transfer of knowledge across projects and examine the statistical relationship between various “higher order” dimensions of project management competencies and project efficiency among a sample of project-based firms (PBFs).

Design/methodology/approach

The research philosophical approach adopted was post-positivism, a half-way house between positivism and phenomenological approaches. The author used a largely structured survey questionnaire with an inclusion of few open-ended items. The survey data collected were largely based on the “perceptions” of mostly experienced project management practitioners, whose perspectives on project processes and performance are likely to be more dependable. Because of budget limitations, a total of 260 questionnaires were mailed to randomly selected PBFs (with an enclosed self-addressed and stamped return envelope). Of the 260 questionnaires sent to PBFs, 58 questionnaires were returned, representing a return rate of just over 22 percent.

Findings

Results indicate that “high time pressures towards the end of the project,” “too much focus on short-term project deliverables,” and “fear of negative sanctions when disclosing project mistakes” were three top-ranked factors that inhibited knowledge transfer across projects. Some “higher order” project management competencies like “dynamic competencies” have relatively a greater impact on predicting project efficiency. Dynamic competencies will only continue to increase in importance as today’s project environments are characterized as continuously evolving, turbulent, and complex and require the need to be effective in dealing with various uncertainties. Once included in the regression equation, the “ownership variable” dominates all other explanatory variables in predicting project efficiency among a sample of PBFs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), most likely driven by the project management competencies of multinational corporations (MNCs). However, the project efficiency of state-owned PBFs did not differ significantly from that of “international firms that were not MNCs.” Specific conditions may have led to such an outcome. The author shows that enhancing project efficiency requires the reinforcement of multiple but specific factors.

Research limitations/implications

As the study was largely conducted on a limited budget and time frame, the author was not able to employ a multi-method approach. The inclusion of a few case studies would have facilitated triangulation of the current findings. In addition, the study captures “perceptions” and practical experiences of project management practitioners. Future studies could possibly develop what may be seen as “objective” measures of project learning and project management competencies. A larger survey supported by a larger budget would be one option in which some of the findings could be tested across PBFs located in different sectors and countries.

Practical implications

The author argues that the creation of a client-led “no-blame culture” within PBFs can ensure the development of a “safe” environment in which project team members can acknowledge project mistakes without the fear or danger(s) that may come with such admission. This may require changes in project organizational culture that reduces power distance, lowers sensitivity to hierarchal power relations, enhances team building efforts, and fosters a “learning climate” that tolerates “trial and error” experimentation. It may also require strengthening clients’ specific capabilities. Such change may require time and patience but could take advantage of “positive” aspects of participatory practices, personal relationships, and consensus decision-making approach that is prevalent in the UAE culture. One managerial implication points to the need to tailor scarce resources in building up multi-dimensional “higher order” competencies like “dynamic competencies” that have a relatively higher significant impact on enhancing project efficiency. Linking MNCs with local PBFs as collaborative mega project delivery partners may lead to enhancing project management competencies of the latter, conditional on their absorptive capacity.

Originality/value

The contribution of the paper is in providing survey-based empirical evidence that goes beyond case studies to highlight the importance of enhancing “higher order” project management competencies, such as “dynamic competencies,” that have a stronger predictive power of project efficiency in PBFs. The study also ranks the relative importance of various factors that inhibit the transfer of new knowledge across projects. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that has demonstrated the statistical relationship between “higher order” project management competencies and project efficiency. Project efficiency is a multi-faceted construct. Its strengthening is determined by a configuration of multiple but specific factors. A more “nuanced” understanding of the relationship between project management competencies and project efficiency in a particular context may be required.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

Carley Blixt and Konstantinos Kirytopoulos

Public sector projects still fail to meet delivery expectations, and the lack of significant project management experience in the Australian public service (APS) has been…

Abstract

Purpose

Public sector projects still fail to meet delivery expectations, and the lack of significant project management experience in the Australian public service (APS) has been identified as a contributing factor. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of competencies required for delivering public sector projects, as well as challenges faced by the project managers when operating in a public context.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative semi-structured interviews were used to enlighten the social and operating construct in APS. In parallel, a quantitative survey was used to determine the relative importance of various competencies to effective project delivery.

Findings

The research concludes that communication, accountability, business alignment, scope and deliverables, change, and project and program orientation are the most important competencies in APS project delivery. Furthermore, there is evidence that the operating environment acts as a barrier to successful project delivery, noting that it does not let project management practice deploy its full potential for increased effectiveness and efficiency.

Practical implications

The research findings noted that the specific needs, values and functions of project management in the APS are not well defined, and therefore there were limited criteria against which public sector project management competencies could be designed and measured.

Originality/value

This empirical research contributes to the open dialogue of improving efficiency in project management within the APS context. The findings point to the conflict between the operational nature of APS agencies and their project activities, and how they struggle to define themselves as project organizations rather than lack of appreciation to individual competencies.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 30 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article

Riaz Ahmed, Simon P. Philbin and Farooq-e-Azam Cheema

Over the last few decades, a large number of research studies have been carried out on project manager's leadership competencies. However, systematic literature reviews…

Abstract

Purpose

Over the last few decades, a large number of research studies have been carried out on project manager's leadership competencies. However, systematic literature reviews are still scarce in the project management literature. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to conduct a systematic literature review on project manager's leadership competencies based on published empirical research studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed a systematic literature review (SLR) methodology to synthesize research in a rigorous manner and a total of 1,780 articles were identified in the first step and a final sample of 60 research studies were synthesized.

Findings

Synthesis of the findings in this SLR on project manager's leadership competencies revealed: (a) there is a lack of categorization or ranking of leadership competencies; (b) 20 research studies (46%) were conducted with sample sizes of less than 100; (c) only a few research studies (<10%) used interview data for analysis; and (d) none of the research studies reported adoption of a triangulation method.

Research limitations/implications

This study synthesized clusters of leadership competencies and prioritized project manager's leadership competencies as “high priority”, “moderate priority” and “low priority”. We recommend a sample size between 200 and 300 to produce sophisticated results and enhance the credibility, generalizability and validity of clusters and priorities of project manager's leadership competencies through future research.

Originality/value

Future research studies are suggested to consider systematic literature review combined with face-to-face and group interview in addition to employing triangulation methods. Besides highlighting implications for practitioners, this SLR has advanced the understanding of how to conduct systematic literature reviews in a robust manner.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

Martina Elizabeth Murphy and Maja-Marija Nahod

Building information modelling (BIM) literature reveals a growing interest in the development of a competency-based approach to manage the long-term goals of BIM…

Abstract

Purpose

Building information modelling (BIM) literature reveals a growing interest in the development of a competency-based approach to manage the long-term goals of BIM implementation in infrastructure projects. One long-term goal is mitigation of environmental impacts (EIs). It is proposed that by integrating environmental systems within the BIM model, the technology can act as an early warning indicator to assist stakeholders identify and evaluate EIs before they become critical to delivery. The purpose of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of BIM in identifying EIs on infrastructure projects and investigate the correlation between stakeholder competency and evaluation of EIs.

Design/methodology/approach

In all, 71 informants that have relevant experience in infrastructure projects were investigated using a two-stage methodology comprising a questionnaire to determine the BIM indicators used to identify EIs and the stakeholder competencies required to assess and evaluate EIs and Behavioural Event Interviews (BEIs) to validate the competencies identified.

Findings

The findings showed that risk assessments are the most critical early warning indicator in identifying EIs specifically when implemented within the cost management process. The key stakeholder competencies required to successfully evaluate EIs were identified as project organisation and building equitable relationships. BEIs showed these stakeholders to also have high levels of behavioural and contextual awareness. This suggests that, contrary to perceived perception, successful management of EIs is more dependent on collaborative working than the acquisition of technical skills. Findings also indicated that Croatian BIM stakeholders are less experienced than UK BIM stakeholders in project implementation and delivery and that less experienced BIM stakeholders require more emphasis on technical knowledge whilst the importance of “soft skills” is more apparent in experienced stakeholders, notably amongst the UK participants.

Originality/value

The implications for infrastructure projects show that effective management of EIs can be achieved through alignment of the BIM model with the cost management plan implemented by stakeholders working collaboratively. Hence, the strategic focus for AEC companies working on infrastructure projects should be the development of staff interpersonal competencies rather than solely on project goals and/or an over-emphasis on technical skills.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

Sina Moradi, Kalle Kähkönen and Kirsi Aaltonen

The success of projects clearly relies on project management personnel and particularly on project managers. Their performance and capacities are based on the achieved…

Abstract

Purpose

The success of projects clearly relies on project management personnel and particularly on project managers. Their performance and capacities are based on the achieved competencies. The purpose of this paper is to address possible discrepancies between the views arising from the research results and standards of practice related to project managers’ competencies.

Design/methodology/approach

For reaching the aim of the study, a comprehensive literature review, covering previous studies and related standards of practice was conducted, and analyses of competencies in the studies and standards of practice containing the rank of competencies based on frequency of appearance were developed.

Findings

The findings are proposing four discrepancies between the results of previous studies and standards of practice: commonly existing/missing competencies; uneven priority of some competencies in the view of researchers vs standards of practice; uneven degree of consensus on the importance of competencies; and research results are more context-oriented than the standards of practice. In addition, 98 project managers’ competencies were identified, from which 68 were qualified as weighty ones. Moreover, a categorization of project managers’ weighty competencies was developed. Finally, a list of competencies of relevance for different project types and their targets is presented.

Originality/value

The findings of this study provide a contribution with respect of present knowledge over project managers’ competencies by recognizing certain discrepancies between research results and standards of practice. Another contribution of the study is the comprehensive list of competencies together with considerations of their relevance in different project contexts and in different project types.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

Jeferson Carvalho Alvarenga, Robson Rosa Branco, André Luis Azevedo Guedes, Carlos Alberto Pereira Soares and Wainer da Silveira e Silva

The past few decades have produced a number of investigations into the correlation between project managers’ competencies and project success. As a result, competencies

Abstract

Purpose

The past few decades have produced a number of investigations into the correlation between project managers’ competencies and project success. As a result, competencies lists have become extensive “shopping lists.” The purpose of this paper is to define the most important competencies to project success and investigate their correlations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors surveyed project managers on the importance of 28 project manager competencies to project success. Data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate procedures.

Findings

Data show that communication, commitment and leadership appear as the three most relevant aspects. Multivariate analysis identified seven groups of competencies: leadership, self-management, interpersonal, communication, technical, productivity and managerial.

Practical implications

The results confirm a growing trend toward soft skills and reinforce the need for an update on project management education to fill the gap between theory and practice.

Originality/value

Project manager competencies lists have become too extensive, and the field is in constant change; therefore, this study updates the discussion and downsizes the number of competencies to fewer, more relevant items.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article

Ganesh A. Devkar and Satyanarayana N. Kalidindi

The weak competencies in urban local bodies (ULBs) for implementing public private partnership (PPP) projects are recognized as a major hurdle in uptake of the PPP model…

Abstract

Purpose

The weak competencies in urban local bodies (ULBs) for implementing public private partnership (PPP) projects are recognized as a major hurdle in uptake of the PPP model in India. Competency‐based management provides a systematic solution for addressing the competency gap in ULBs, which comprises four components: competency identification, competency assessment, competency development and competency monitoring. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the development of a PPP competencies assessment (PCA) tool for assessment of competencies in ULBs for implementing urban PPP projects.

Design/methodology/approach

The analytical hierarchy process (AHP) was used for modeling of competencies involved in urban PPP projects. The application of the PCA tool was showcased with a case study of PPP projects in the municipal solid waste management (MSW) sector.

Findings

The PCA tool is effective in assessment of competencies in ULBs. The outputs obtained from the PCA tool provided detailed information on competency profile of the ULB, competency gap and aggregate measure of PPP competencies index.

Originality/value

The study contributes towards the growing body of knowledge on competency development in ULBs for implementing urban PPP projects. The results would also help policy makers to formulate approaches to overcome the competency gap in ULBs.

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Article

Mona N. Shah and Anand Prakash

The purpose of this paper is to develop a model for generic competencies based on lifecycle orientation of projects to support infrastructure managers (IMs) in India.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a model for generic competencies based on lifecycle orientation of projects to support infrastructure managers (IMs) in India.

Design/methodology/approach

This study has reviewed literature on competency theories and their advancement of knowledge in management, construction and engineering projects. This study has applied exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to structure generic competencies founded on infrastructure practices in India. Further this study has applied confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to test for confirmation on emerged dimensionality of the competence construct for IMs in India.

Findings

Using data collected from 175 usable questionnaires of managers serving in infrastructure firms in India for EFA followed by CFA, six generic competencies have been established in the domains of strategic, analytical, personal, managerial, professional and leadership dimensions significantly impacting competent performance.

Research limitations/implications

This study has applied plausibility sampling and it presents only generic competencies for executives working in the infrastructure sector alone.

Practical implications

Due to the growth in number of executives to be employed in infrastructure firms in India, academic institutions in this subcontinent have gained momentum in offering programmes covering the field of infrastructure management. These institutions are believed to be covering domains of strategic, analytical, personal, managerial, professional and leadership dimensions for assuring competent performance of IMs in India.

Social implications

Attention to these generic competencies can help IMs to contribute towards better performance, academic institutions to design curriculum, recruiters to acquire talent and executives to advance professionally.

Originality/value

Extant academic studies relating to generic competencies are available mostly in project and construction domains. There is a paucity of such academic studies in the domain of infrastructure.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article

Sherein H. Abou- Warda

– This study aims to explore the relation between barriers and project sustainability by adding competencies in the mediating role.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the relation between barriers and project sustainability by adding competencies in the mediating role.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a mediation model including project sustainability as the dependent variable, sustainability barriers as the independent variable and project managers' sustainability competencies as the mediator variable. Data were gathered from project managers, executive teams, and experts/advisors, working in Egyptian higher education enhancement projects (HEEPs) using self-administered questionnaires; the total number collected was 159, representing a response rate of 93.5 percent. Correlations and multiple regression analysis were employed to analyze the mediation impact of project manager's sustainability competencies.

Findings

The results indicate that sustainability competencies mediate the relation between barriers to sustainability and project sustainability. Sustainability competencies facilitate project achievements, and the sustainability and future expansion of these achievements. The analysis suggests that “continuous competencies” are extremely important, more so than “self-competencies”.

Research limitations/implications

This study was undertaken at the level of the projects management unit in the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, which manages the HEEPs.

Practical implications

The analysis helps to understand the complex and nuanced nature of the projects; these are distinguished when the author considers the different practices.

Originality/value

This study offers two principal contributions: first, a guideline for the development, measurement, and application of an uncommon concept of project sustainability; second, a concept of project managers' sustainability competencies and barriers to sustainability.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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