Sustainable innovations in project management to enhance project success


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Currently, organisations perform many of their activities as projects. Despite the projectification of businesses, a significant number of projects fail. For example, in the construction industry, only 32% of the projects meet their predefined objectives, 44% of projects fail in terms of schedule or budget overruns, and 24% prematurely terminate before completion (Shahroz et al., 2021). The information technology (IT) sector also suffers from high rates of project failure. Johnson (2020) reports that 16.2% of IT projects are successful, while 31.1% are prematurely cancelled, and 52.7% fail to achieve their schedule and cost objectives by an average of 189% cost overruns.  

Project-based organisations have appreciated that their survival and competitiveness depend on speeding up innovation and knowledge sharing. For example, the construction industry enjoys lower levels of innovation and knowledge sharing than other industries (Sergeeva & Duryan, 2021). Higher levels of innovation can be realised through supportive organisational culture and leadership style because these factors are strongly linked to employees' individual and collective behaviour (Zheng et al., 2019). Given the tremendous need for change in the usual way of performing activities, innovations play a significant role in the effective and efficient implementation of changes (Vrchota & Řehoř, 2019). The shorter life cycle of products, and the need to deliver new products and services faster than normal forces organisations and nations to boost their productivity and achieve and maintain competitive advantage through instigating incremental and radical innovations. While many innovations focus on short-term needs, sustainable innovations go beyond that by addressing the long-term expectations of stakeholders and the public by incorporating inclusiveness and all dimensions of sustainability (Seifert et al., 2023).  

Projects bring about beneficial change intended to deliver value to organisations based on understanding the cost of that benefit. Generally, the beneficial change is based on the strategic direction the organisation has agreed upon. Mature project management processes assume that governance is used by the organisation and the project to manage the integration of both and to monitor the project's performance (Sergeeva & Ali, 2020). The emergence of sustainable project management and the innovations needed to support it (Chofreh et al., 2019; Eskerod & Huemann, 2013) along with the inclusion of sustainability in the Project Management Institute’s global project management body of knowledge (Project Management Institute, 2021) calls for more attention to improve project success. Sustainable innovations or sustainability-oriented innovations aim at changing current philosophy, values, products, processes, and organisational practices to enhance their capability to collectively create and realise sustainable outcomes, i.e., social, environmental, and economic value (Adams et al., 2016; Calza et al., 2023; Kneipp et al., 2021). It is prudent that sustainable innovations demand significant changes in the business model (Kneipp et al., 2021) to initiate, plan, and deliver projects to realise sustainable benefits and deliver sustainable values to end-users and sponsors, managers, and the public, among other stakeholders. As organisations must innovate to maintain competitiveness, projects become more agile and flexible (Ju et al., 2020; Sanz-Llopis & Ostermann, 2020) to keep pace with disruptive and transformational business models (Hutter et al., 2023). Nonetheless, organisations encounter major challenges in implementing innovation due to substantial uncertainties of innovation management over the project lifecycle and a complex network of stakeholders with distinctive and more likely conflicting views on innovation (AlHarmoodi & Dulaimi, 2022).  

Organisational resources from people, equipment, and knowledge are made available together with funds to support the successful delivery of the project's outputs (Sáenz et al., 2012). In recent years, project management has shifted from a technocratic mechanism for creating deliverables to establishing a responsive temporary organisation that requires innovation to meet the expectations of internal and external stakeholders (Urbinati et al., 2020). There is also a recognition that projects are essential for economic growth, but this creates a paradox where Earth's finite resources will eventually be unable to support continued growth (Brones et al., 2020). Consequently, sustainability, social enterprise, and broader concepts of social responsibility will need to be adapted and solutions developed to address the sustainability paradox. Sustainable innovations through corporate decisions are one way in which management can respond. Sustainable innovations in project management help project managers, organisations, sponsors, and practitioners understand how to tackle challenges before getting barriers to their success. Therefore, there is a need for further research to demonstrate what forms of innovation can take place in the projects of different sectors, what the implications of those innovations are on the project, organisation, industry and the overall economy, and what approaches can be employed to evaluate the benefits of innovations. 


List of topic areas

Traditional management practices might not be practical and/or effective during turbulent times like during and post crises such as COVID-19. This special edition aims to present research into how projects and sustainable innovations can combine to help organisations and their managers navigate the challenges ahead. Research from different perspectives around sustainable innovation and project management using a variety of methodologies is encouraged. As this is an emerging area of global interest, the aim will be to collate research of interest to researchers, organisations, applied practice, and teaching to unravel the role of innovations in enhancing project success. Potential topics for the theoretical, empirical, and review papers submitted to this special issue may include, but are not limited to:  

  • Sustainable innovations and project success 
  • Sustainable innovations and agile project management 
  • Eco-innovations in projects for project success 
  • Corporate social responsibility in projects through innovations 
  • Project analytics for sustainable innovations 
  • Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) for sustainable innovations in project management 
  • Drivers and challenges of sustainable innovations in projects 
  • Measuring the effectiveness of sustainable innovations in projects  
  • Project governance and sustainable innovations 
  • Sustainable innovations for benefits realisation 
  • Sustainable innovations for project procurement 
  • Sustainable innovations for configuration and change management in projects 
  • Sustainable innovations and project risk management 
  • Sustainable innovations and project quality management 
  • Sustainable innovations and project stakeholder management 
  • Sustainable innovations and agile project management 
  • Sustainable innovations and systems thinking in projects 
  • Sustainable innovations in projects during and post-crisis 


Guest Editors 

Dr. Reza Kiani Mavi (Managing Guest Editor) 
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia 
[email protected] 

Mr. Richard Hughes 
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia 
[email protected] 

Dr. Ross Yates 
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia 
[email protected]

Dr. Masoud Aghajani 
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia 
[email protected] 


Submissions Information 

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available by clicking the button below.

Submit your paper here!

Author guidelines must be strictly followed.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.  
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal. 


Key Deadlines 

Opening date for manuscript submissions: 1 January 2024 
Closing date for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2024 
For additional information or queries about this special issue contact the Guest Editors.   



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