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Article
Publication date: 8 April 2020

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…

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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

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2021

Kun Wang, Yongjian Ke, Tingting Liu and Shankar Sankaran

The purpose of this paper is to present evidence to the heated debate “whether Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model should be introduced into the hospitals” and, if so…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present evidence to the heated debate “whether Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model should be introduced into the hospitals” and, if so, how to promote the social sustainability of such PPP projects.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper has established an analytical framework to analyse the social sustainability of PPP projects. Using content analysis method, a single case study was carried out on the Northern Beaches Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

Findings

The results show that there are many problems related to social sustainability in the project, due to which employees and patients were exposed to most of them. Some recommendations are provided, including to strengthen the supervision of the project, provide sufficient information, establish communication channels and stakeholder participation, improve hospital policies and procedures, and strengthen government support.

Practical implications

This paper can provide guidance for the stakeholders in a partnership, including the public and private sectors, to analyse the social sustainability implications, and then plan and implement hospital PPP projects to achieve social sustainability goals. Meanwhile, it can also provide important reference for the employees, patients, local community and society to assess social sustainability issues, and provide relevant inputs to inform decision-makers in the development, delivery and management of hospital projects.

Originality/value

The research will contribute to knowledge of social sustainability of hospital PPP projects. The proposed analytical framework can be used to analyse and assess the social sustainability of such projects from the perspective of stakeholders.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 2 July 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…

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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: 3 August 2018

John Rodney Turner, Laurence Lecoeuvre, Shankar Sankaran and Michael Er

The purpose of this paper is to identify the marketing practices adopted by contractors in project-based industries to win new business and maintain relationships with…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the marketing practices adopted by contractors in project-based industries to win new business and maintain relationships with existing clients.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors interviewed eight such contractors, and used activity theory as a lens to analyze the results. The authors investigated project marketing activities at four stages of the project contract life cycle, and against four enablers of collaboration.

Findings

The authors have identified that the service-dominant logic pervades project marketing. Through the project contract life cycle the marketing activity starts with a strategic focus, becomes tactical, then operational and returns to strategic. Project marketing involves executive managers, marketing, client or account managers and project managers. Project managers have a key responsibility for project marketing. The four enablers of collaboration, relationships, communication, going-with and trust, support each other and the entire project marketing activity.

Research limitations/implications

As a contribution to theory, the authors have identified the practices adopted by contractors in project-based industries to market their competencies to clients to win new work and maintain relationships with existing clients. The authors have identified practices throughout the contract life cycle, and practices to develop collaboration. The next step will be to explain these practices in terms of traditional marketing theory.

Practical implications

The results provide guidelines to contractors in project-based industries who wish to improve their marketing activity to achieve sustainable performance. Industry may also find it useful to train or coach their project managers to be conscious of their marketing role.

Originality/value

Previous work has been conceptual in nature and has speculated on the nature of the project marketing performed by contractors to win new projects, and set it against marketing done by the project. This research has empirically investigated the actual marketing practices adopted by project contracting organizations, shown how it varies through the project life cycle and shown how responsibility passes from senior management to the account team and then to project managers. It has also investigated the application of the four enablers of collaboration: relationships, communication, going-with and trust.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 21 January 2021

Per Svejvig, Shankar Sankaran and Erik Lindhult

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263

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 12 November 2020

Shankar Sankaran, Ralf Müller and Nathalie Drouin

The purpose of this article is to investigate collaboration in project management research. Although the literature shows an increase in collaboration between scientists…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to investigate collaboration in project management research. Although the literature shows an increase in collaboration between scientists and social scientists for various reasons, it is unclear how and why such collaboration takes place in project management research. The literature does show that co-authorship of articles published in project management journals is on the rise due to increased collaboration between researchers in developed countries and emerging economies as well as developing countries. However, no detailed study has been conducted to investigate how such collaboration occurs in practice in project management research. This article addresses this gap.

Design/methodology/approach

We use a multi-method approach (action research as a meta-methodology and surveys) using qualitative data to reflect on a successful collaborative externally funded research project. At the end of the study, a survey was used to investigate how collaboration occurred among the 26 researchers involved, who were spread over nine countries to collect data on a sponsored research project led by the authors who were the principal investigators. We also compare our findings from the original project with findings from a second survey of a purposeful sample of ten project management researchers who have conducted or are conducting collaborative research in order to validate our findings.

Findings

Through this study, we were able to compare the reasons for increased collaboration in scientific research reported in the literature with what we learnt from our own experience in collaborating on a large-scale project across geographical boundaries and cultures around the world. We were also able to get some insights on enablers and barriers to collaboration from peers who have collaborated on project management research from the second survey. We found that, although some of the reasons explained in the literature were confirmed in our study (e.g. the reputation of lead researchers), some other reasons (e.g. the prestige of institutions) were not that important. The conclusions section of this article provides a more detailed comparison. We also found that using a project management approach would deliver better outcomes. The literature on scientific collaboration was divided on the value of a project management approach and preferred a combination of firmness and flexibility. We found that using action research as a meta-methodology to reflect on our research gave us further insights into why we did what we did at certain critical points in our research that moved us forward.

Research limitations/implications

Our study used two surveys with a limited number of researchers to compare what was found in the literature on reasons for collaboration in scientific research and how research outcomes were measured using citation rates. Conducting interviews or focused groups could have provided more nuanced findings. However, our findings did show that collaboration is beneficial to both experienced and early career researchers and helps them to publish in higher-ranked journals resulting in better visibility for the research. This is an interesting observation and merits further investigation. Theoretical implications: Findings from this research contribute to the broad literature on collaborative research in science and social science with a focus on practice-based fields such as project management where collaboration between academics and practitioners is becoming important.

Practical implications

The study provides some insights into the reasons for processes used and benefits from collaboration in project management research. Our findings have also been validated with our peers. Thus, this study will be useful for setting up and managing collaborative research in project management.

Social implications

Effective collaboration in research can provide social value through mentoring of early career researchers.

Originality/value

This is the first detailed study of collaborative research in project management. It also proposes an action research model that can be used to retrospectively analyse long-term research projects to reflect upon and improve.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 5 March 2018

Shankar Sankaran

The purpose of this paper is to glean leadership lessons of megaproject managers through the life stories of four purposefully selected managers from two contemporary and…

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1416

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to glean leadership lessons of megaproject managers through the life stories of four purposefully selected managers from two contemporary and two landmark megaprojects.

Design/methodology/approach

A narrative inquiry approach applying thematic analysis is used to capture lessons learnt from these stories with a focus on leading megaprojects. Narrative analysis has been used in organization studies and this paper is an attempt to use it in project management research.

Findings

Common strategies used by all four megaproject managers to be successful include: selecting the right people and building their capability; building trust with stakeholders; dealing with institutional power and politics effectively; and having the courage to innovate. There were also some differences in the approaches used by these managers due the times in which these projects were implemented.

Research limitations/implications

The use of narrative inquiry is new to project management literature. As the life stories were not presented in the same way it was difficult to analyze them in the same manner, and further data had to be collected. This could have been avoided if it were feasible to collect narratives directly from the megaproject managers. This is being planned in future research emerging from this paper.

Practical implications

This study helps megaproject managers to exhibit leadership attributes that would be required to execute such large complex projects that have wide implications for the society, economy and the environment.

Social implications

Megaprojects are often considered major displacements that cause social and geophysical issues that affect the environment. Lessons learnt from these stories could be useful to avoid such issues. The stories analyzed showed the human side of the megaproject managers toward people related, health and societal issues.

Originality/value

Narrative inquiry is new to project management literature. In the past, project management literature has focused on extracting lessons learnt from historical and classical projects, but lessons from life stories of project managers have not been used for the same purpose.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 5 March 2018

Alexandra Pitsis, Stewart Clegg, Daphne Freeder, Shankar Sankaran and Stephen Burdon

The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview from the literature on how best to define megaprojects in contemporary contexts. There is a need for a definition…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview from the literature on how best to define megaprojects in contemporary contexts. There is a need for a definition that encompasses a complex matrix of characteristics, inclusive of positive and negative aspects, which are not necessarily industry or sector specific. Whilst megaprojects have often been described and defined in terms of cost, they are more accurately delineated by their convolutions. Intricacies arise from political intrigues surrounding funding of such projects and managing and governing complex social and organizational relations. Points for future research are also identified.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis of international megaproject literature over the past five years combined with seminal works was undertaken, drawing on the broad literature of project and program management combined with elements of organizational theory. Whilst some examples are cited, in-depth case analysis has not been covered.

Findings

Albeit that the scale of some megaprojects is comparable to national GDPs, seven more characteristics beyond size have been identified, which distinguish megaprojects from large projects. These include: reach; duration; risks and uncertainties; widely disparate actors; areas of controversy such as dispute resolution; and legal and regulatory issues.

Research limitations/implications

The paper takes a broad overview and whilst some examples are cited, in-depth case analysis has not been covered. The overview does however provide a good synopsis of the future research areas that warrant exploration.

Practical implications

The paper identifies a range of analytical areas for major future research including further exploration of institutional analysis. Areas for further analysis include stakeholder issues; collaboration and understanding between technical and business personnel and reforming notions of procurement and contractual arrangements.

Social implications

Rigorous stakeholder engagement is critical for success in megaprojects, and collaborative learnings need to be exchanged. The longer term social and economic impacts need to be viewed as an imperative rather than a hindrance to the planning and execution of megaprojects and complexity rather than cost more aptly defines megaprojects.

Originality/value

The paper moves the definition of megaprojects to beyond measurement on the basis of cost to complexity and social and economic variables.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Professor Shankar Sankaran and Professor Nilgun Okay and Professor Gerhard Chroust

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192

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 30 September 2013

Kelly Shaw, Colleen M. Cartwright, Shankar Sankaran, Jacqueline Kelly, Bob Dick, Alan Davies and Jocelyn Craig

– The purpose of this paper is to identify the domains of performance needed by leaders in aged and community care not-for-profit organisations.

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906

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the domains of performance needed by leaders in aged and community care not-for-profit organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with senior managers employed by faith-based aged and community care not-for-profit organisations, academics in ageing and business fields and senior government employees from aged services departments and agencies in Australia. Results were content transcribed and analysed thematically in order to identify the major themes that emerged.

Findings

A total of 37 people participated in the study. The domains of performance identified by participants as required of leaders in aged and community care were: professionalism; collaboration and teamwork; judgement and decision making; communication; scholarship and teaching; management; advocacy; and leadership. The performance requirements that were identified for leaders in aged and community care not-for-profit organisations were broader than just leadership per se.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study suggest that the aged and community care not-for-profit sector has specific requirements for the performance of its leaders. Leadership is one of a number of performance attributes desirable in leaders in this sector.

Practical implications

The aged and community care not-for-profit sector has distinctive needs and specific requirements of its leaders.

Originality/value

It is recommended that a broad range of performance attributes are taken into account by aged and community care not-for-profit organisations when recruiting and training staff in leadership positions.

Details

Leadership in Health Services, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1879

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