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Special issue: “When agile becomes fragile in project-based organizing: the ways towards robustness"

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Managing Projects in Business


Special issue on "When agile becomes fragile in project-based organizing: the ways towards robustness"

Call for papers: International Journal for Managing Projects in Business

Special issue editors: Miia Martinsuo, Hans Georg Gemünden and Martina Huemann

EURAM 2011 conference topic was "Management Culture in the 21st Century" that called attention particularly to the modern, dynamic and flexible management cultures associated with project-based organizing. On the one hand a very dynamic, entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented culture recognizes projects as ventures, as explorations, as vanguard activities that help high-velocity organizations in becoming dynamic and flexible – "agile". On the other hand there are strong trends to standardize project-related processes, develop well-regulated governance structures, and certified practices and, as such, control the dynamics. The project organizing track at the EURAM 2011 conference inspired us to think about the paradoxality in project-based organizing: the threat of "agile" becoming rigid or "fragile".

Project-based management may create a variety of problems, paradoxes, rigidities and fragilities in firms that pursue dynamics in their capabilities and continued success. For example, by establishing flexible structures through increased outsourcing, offshoring and contracting with suppliers in their projects, companies may accidentally lose some of their core resources and competences to external firms. Or, by streamlining their project portfolios to deliver rapid benefits through their projects, the companies may neglect the slower-developing, longer-term benefits and more radical opportunities. Also, cross-functional project teams may over the longer term establish themselves to become highly rigid and isolated units that fail to communicate sufficiently with project sponsors and stakeholders. Furthermore, using temporary workforce in projects may solve momentary fluctuations in the need for capacity and skills, but the poor management of such resources may endanger the expected benefits. Although project-based organizing is expected to promote agility in organizations' business and operations, agility may eventually become a threat or hindrance to the longer term success of the firm, i.e. a "fragility". How should this paradox be solved? What are the ways to incorporate robustness in capabilities, including the strategies, processes, practices and human resources of project-based organizations?

Therefore, we call papers to a special journal issue on " When agile becomes fragile in project-based organizing: the ways towards robustness ". We are interested in papers discussing the fragility paradox and developing solutions on how to balance robustness and agility in project-based organizations. Both conceptual and empirical papers, and both quantitative and qualitative empirical studies are welcome. You may develop a former conference paper or other unpublished work and submit it to this special issue. The work should be original and not earlier published elsewhere. We particularly hope to see rigorous, case-based analyses on the real-life paradoxes stemming from the pursuit of dynamics that may result in fragilities in the capability-base of companies, and the ways to solve them. Single project studies, multi-project studies, micro-level studies, and broader studies of project-based organizations are included. The possible topics include but are not limited to:

standardizing project management, and the ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

leadership and work of project teams, and the ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

multi-project organizing (portfolios, programs and project offices), and ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

interplay between multiple companies in projects (e.g. project networks), and the ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

the business landscape constituted by multiple firms and projects, and ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

temporary workforce, project management personnel and their career paths, and ways to avoid and solve related fragilities

Submitting the paper to the special issue

Please communicate your intent to submit a paper to [email protected] by 5 September, 2011. Prepare your paper following the journal guidelines, and submit the paper through Emerald’s manuscript system (following the journal’s style guide), using EURAM2011 as the special issue code by 30 September, 2011. This short submission time means that you can use work-in-progress or a paper you have presented at a conference as a starting point. The articles will be reviewed in line with the journal’s policy. The special issue is expected to appear during the year 2012.

Special issue editors

Miia Martinsuo, Tampere University of Technology (Finland), [email protected]

Hans Georg Gemünden, Technische Universität Berlin (Germany), [email protected]  

Martina Huemann, WU-Vienna University of Economics and Business (Austria), [email protected]  

Journal information

For author guidelines and online submission procedure, please visit the official web site of the journal:  








: Emerald Group Publishing : Professor Derek Walker, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia : The Journal is indexed and abstracted in INSPEC database

August, 2011