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Perceptions of Project Management in Traditionally Non-PM Industry Sectors

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


Those interested in contributing to the special issue should contact the editor of the International Journal of Projects in Business, Professor Derek H.T. Walker on [email protected] . Original contributions should be between 5,000 and 6,000 words in length –excluding references, appendices and tables/figures. Papers will be double blind reviewed. The closing date for submissions is 7th January 2009. 

The discipline of project management (PM) had its origins in major quasi-civil infrastructure projects such as: the pyramids; roads, aqueducts and ports; and ancient monuments e.g. Stone Henge, the Acropolis, Angkor Wat and numerous examples that can be found in the Americas (such as in the Sacred Valley of Peru or in the Yucatan). PM emerged as a recognisable discipline distinct from logistics and operational research with PM tools being developed in World War II as well as during the space race (Morris and Hough, 1993; Morris, 1994).

About 20 years ago the term ‘accidental project manager’ was coined independently by both Bob Graham at the Wharton Business School and Dave Frame at George Washington University Frame in 1988 before Graham’s (1992) paper was published. This term refers to people who seem to stumble into a PM role. These people conduct their activities to deliver projects with differing levels of application of a systematic and/or rigorous approach to link design with execution and to deliver a benefit within a limited period. Such people may be unaware that they are fumbling and stumbling to achieve their objectives.

More formalised approaches and underlying assumptions have evolved that has become known as Project Management and several global bodies have been formed to advance the disciple of PM. The two dominant global groups are the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA). Both bodies have developed what they refer to as a PM body of knowledge (BMBOK) and these have tended to restrain and define the PM profession (Whitty, 2005; Morris, Crawford, Hodgson, Shepherd and Thomas, 2006; Whitty, 2006). There are many interesting questions being asked about where the PM profession is going but importantly what is actually like to be a project manager—that is, what is the lived experience of PM (Hodgson, 2002; Hodgson and Cicmil, 2006b;2006a;2008). Examples of chaos and highly complex situations have been recorded as characterising PM roles (Green, 2006; Maylor, Brady, Cooke-Davies and Hodgson, 2006; Winter, Andersen, Elvin and Levene, 2006; Lindgren and Packendorff, 2007; Hartman, 2008). This leads to interesting questions about how PM is valued and appreciated as well as how it is dopted in various settings.

The PMI for example has a PMBOK that comprises 9 knowledge areas that operate over the project phases of project initiation and design, delivery (executing and monitoring/evaluation) and close out (hand over and feedback of lessons learned),  (PMI, 2004). This PMBOK is highly value laden with an underlying assumption that PM is a rational discipline based on system theory with its underpinning being based upon an input-process-output behaviour model. The PMI include as their core PMBOK knowledge areas:

  1. Project integration management;
  2. Project scope management; 
  3. Project time management;
  4. Project cost (and by inference resource) management; 
  5. Project quality management;
  6. Project human resource management;
  7. Project communication management; 
  8. Project risk management; and 
  9. Project procurement management.

These areas of the PMBOK have been seen to constrain the dominant view of PM as being a rational, manageable and formulaic route to delivering value (Whitty, 2005; Whitty and Schulz, 2007). It can also be argued as constraining the valid ways in which projects are effectively managed. Being effective can be seen as delivering expected value that the project was established to generate. This raises some very interesting questions relating to how different applications of PM work is applied in various settings such as those listed below.

Zwikael (in Zwikael and Globerson, 2006; and 2008) has undertaken an investigation into common PM processes and their adoption across industry groups as well as countries. Seventten PM processes that were realted to top management support that were identified by Zwikael (2008) are illustrated below. Zwikael’s (2008) findings suggest that different PM processes are valued differently by both national and industry group categories. His work indicates that it is worth considering studying the way that different disciplines value PM processes in various settings in which projects are delivered.

  1. Appropriate project manager assignment
  2. Communication between the project manager and the organization
  3. Existence of interactive inter-departmental project groups
  4. Existence of project procedures
  5. Existence of project success measures
  6. Extent of use of standard project management software
  7. Involvement of the project manager during initiation stage
  8. On going project management training programs
  9. Organizational projects quality management
  10. Organizational projects resource planning
  11. Organizational projects risk management
  12. Project office involvement
  13. Project-based organization
  14. Refreshing project procedures
  15. Supportive project organizational structure
  16. Use of new project tools and techniques
  17. Use of organizational projects data warehouse

The main question that the journal’s special issue seeks to explore is what is it like to be a project manager operating outside those cultures associated with a rational and highly systemised way of seeing projects (such as that dominated by construction, engineering, IT, defence industry) and where the PM ‘job’ is viewed as involving a simple input>process>output situation. 

If we look at projects outside this paradigm then to what extent are the 9 PMI core knowledge areas relevant and if any of these knowledge areas are not relevant, then what areas are? Also, if a PMI area is not relevant what is its equivalent? and how does the subject group deal with those areas identified by the PMBOK?  Another interesting question relates to the extent to which practitioners see their role as a PM one. These are some but not all interesting questions worthy of investigation.

We are interested in receiving submissions of papers to be published in the IJMPiB journal in the first instance and to be considered for publication in a book that will highlight by chapter various industry or business sectors that can be seen as using PM principles and processes (even if the persons involved in managing projects are unaware of this). We plan to select papers from the special issues and invite authors to further develop these into book chapters in a 12-15 chapter book on PM diversity that will outline a range of industry/business settings in which PM processes have been (formally or informally) applied. Some of these fields that we identify (but are not limited to) include:


Table 1 - Indicative areas of interest where PM is being adopted

  1. Film, TV and/or Multi-media production
  1. Sports events
  1. Artistic entertainment events (exhibitions, concerts, installations, fashion shows, theme tours or perhaps highly specialised gastronomic experiences)
  1. Business transformation including business process re-engineering, supply chain management initiatives, mergers and acquisitions and diffusion of innovation;
  1. Medical procedures that are often complex or involve long term processes that can be seen as involving a ‘recovery project’ – Cancer diagnosis and management is one salutary example;
  1. Historical events i.e. archaeological investigations or reconstruction simulations;
  1. New product development;
  1. Research;
  1. Cultural change projects are highly relevant these days with change programs as being part of information technology/systems integration projects;
  1. Delivery of social policy programs;
  1. Military campaigns or exercises;
  1. Security/police campaigns;
  1. Delivery of aid and disaster relief programs; and
  1. Other processes that deliver a change from current status to a future different one that delivers some kind of benefit requiring an approach that is phased over time.


We are looking for examples of the ‘lived experience’ of PM as it may be currently not recognised as PM such as occurs in for example in government where policy is translated into delivery of service or in commerce where product design results in not only a ‘widget’ but a new service or way of doing things. PM is an exciting area that encompasses many other academic endeavours.   

The purpose of this call for papers is to source one or possibly two special issues in late 2009 and early 2010 that may also lay the groundwork for a PM text that highlights the richness and potential for the PM discipline to not only export its (evolving) view of how projects may be defined and understood but also to expand the PM notion of projects and to accommodate the ‘perceived realities’ of other settings in which project objectives are realised.


Papers may be quantitative in methodological approach, reporting upon processes, tools and approaches adopted in the chosen sector in Table 1 to illustrate and help readers understand how these approaches relate to the traditional PM processes, tools and approaches adopted by for example engineering/construction or IT. Qualitative studies are highly attractive for this issue in which case studies are reported upon that provide rich and specific insights that will help readers to understand the prevailing culture and view of PM in the segment’s context. This view may be supportive or critical of the traditional understanding of existing PM approaches. We are interested in what these examples will tell us about the status of PM. For examples, Sauer, Liu and Johnston (2001)  report that in the Australian construction industry project managers are viewed as ‘kings’ and that this is the main pathway to high level executive career positions as well as an attractive destination career prospect whereas in IT being a PM was seen as very much a transitory career position. Thus impression of status and the value of PM within a particular sector may have numerous implications for PM practice and what PM practitioners may learn from these other areas. The ‘lived’ experience of those undertaking a role that the PM discipline perceives to be a project manager role is also sought so that not only will the reader better understand what PM processes, tools and techniques are used in that sector and the culture relating to the status and awareness of the potential value of PM in that sector but also reader will gain insights into how a project manager may feel in that situation and environment. This has implications for the way that PM practitioners will address stakeholders in these contexts.




Graham, R. J. (1992). A survival Guide for the Accidental Project manager. Annual project Management Institute Symposium, Drexel Hill, PA,  Project Management Institute: 355-361.

Green, S. (2006). The management of projects in the construction industry: context, discourse and self-identity. Making Projects Critical. Hodgson D. and S. Cicmil. Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave MacMillan: 232-251.

Hartman, F. (2008). “Preparing the mind for dynamic management.” International Journal of Project Management.  26 (3): 258-267

Hodgson, D. and Cicmil, S. (2006a). Are projects real? The PMBOK and the legitimation of project management knowledge. Making Projects Critical. Hodgson D. and S. Cicmil. Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave MacMillan: 29-50.

Hodgson, D. and Cicmil, S. (2006b) Making Projects Critical, Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave MacMillan.

Hodgson, D. and Cicmil, S. (2008). “The other side of projects: the case for critical project studies ” International Journal of Managing Projects in Business.  1 (1): 142-152

Hodgson, D. E. (2002). “DISCIPLINING THE PROFESSIONAL: THE CASE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT.” Journal of Management Studies.  39 (6): 803-821

Lindgren, M. and Packendorff, J. (2007). “Performing arts and the art of performing - On co-construction of project work and professional identities in theatres.” International Journal of Project Management.  25 (4): 354-364

Maylor, H.,  Brady, T.,  Cooke-Davies, T. and Hodgson, D. (2006). “From projectification to programmification.” International Journal of Project Management.  24 (8): 663-674

Morris, P. W. G. (1994) The Management of Projects A New Model, London, Thomas Telford.

Morris, P. W. G.,  Crawford, L.,  Hodgson, D.,  Shepherd, M. M. and Thomas, J. (2006). “Exploring the role of formal bodies of knowledge in defining a profession - The case of project management.” International Journal of Project Management.  24 (8): 710-721

Morris, P. W. G. and Hough, G. H. (1993) The Anatomy of Major Projects - A Study of the Reality of Project Management, London, Wiley.

PMI (2004) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Sylva, NC, USA, Project Management Institute.
Sauer, C.,  Liu, L. and Johnston, K. (2001). “Where Project Managers are Kings.” Project Management Journal.  Vol. 32 (4): 39-49

Whitty, S. J. (2005). “A memetic paradigm of project management.” International Journal of Project Management.  23 (8): 575-583

Whitty, S. J. (2006). 20th IPMA World Congress: Reflections of a Concerned Australian Delegate: 2.

Whitty, S. J. and Schulz, M. F. (2007). “The impact of Puritan ideology on aspects of project management.” International Journal of Project Management.  25 (1): 10-20

Winter, M.,  Andersen, E. S.,  Elvin, R. and Levene, R. (2006). “Focusing on business projects as an area for future research: An exploratory discussion of four different perspectives.” International Journal of Project Management.  24 (8): 699-709

Zwikael, O. (2008). “Top management involvement in project management – exclusive support practices for different project scenarios.” International Journal of Managing Projects in Business.  1 (3): forthcoming

Zwikael, O. and Globerson, S. (2006). “From Critical Success Factors to Critical Success Processes.” International Journal of Production Research.  44 (17): 3433-3449