Researcher: Dr Theodoros Kalogeropoulos
Affiliation: National Technical University of Athens
Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Konstantinos Kirytopoulos
Thesis language: English
This research explores project management practice from a social point of view correlating the field of sociology with the field of project management. The research included a deep analysis of more than five hundred (500) books, papers, and theses, most of which can be seen in the list of references. Main aim of the research is to add a new direction to the "Project-As-Practice" research agenda by applying and extending the Bourdieusian Theory of Practice.
The professional daily routine of a project manager is characterized by uncertainty and complexity. Scholars have been thoroughly occupied with identifying the appropriate tools and necessary skills a practitioner can use to overcome the above-mentioned difficulties and be successful. However, there are not many sources in the literature concerning the human side of a project manager, the objective and subjective factors (like predispositions - inherited or not - personal cultivation, environment etc.) that drive their actions and generate their success. This research explores project management practice from a social point of view correlating the field of sociology with the field of project management. The research included a deep analysis of more than five hundred (500) books, papers, and theses, most of which can be seen in the list of references. Main aim of the research is to add a new direction to the "Project-As-Practice" research agenda by applying and extending the Bourdieusian Theory of Practice. Research objectives were (i) the investigation of the actuality of a project manager in action with the use of Bourdieusian lenses and (ii) the detection of common elements regarding the habitus, field and capital of successful project managers.
The research was conducted in two phases. The first phase, based on participatory research, concerned a four-month in-depth observation of the project manager that delivered successfully one of the most large-scale building construction project ever built in Greece, a project with a total budget exceeding €350 million. At this phase, the researcher shadowed the project manager at every aspect of his work, meaning meetings with the client, negotiations with sub-contractors, work-site meetings etc. In total the researcher accumulated approximately four hundred (400) hours of observation and gathered reach material for analysis. This phase was conducted at a very crucial period for the project, as it was concluded three months before the final delivery. This phase was followed by the conduction of in-depth interviews with the project manager with a scope of deeper analysis of his personality, according to the Bourdieusian Theory. The total duration of these interviews exceeded fifteen hours of recorded data, in total. The outcome of the first phase was an open-ended questionnaire which was used for the second phase of the research. The second phase of the research concerned the conduction of, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with sixteen successful and professionally acknowledged, by their peers, Greek project managers, identified through the peers' akcnoledgment snowballing technique. The outcome of this phase was recorded data of over forty hours duration, in total. Content Analysis was used for decoding the results. The decoding of the recorded data followed a three-stage procedure: (i) identification of key sentences/quotes of the interviewees (ii) Grouping of these quotes into affinities and (iii) theming these affinities to the relevant concept of the Bourdieusian Theory. Initially there was a selection of the interviewees' quotes which was then given a specific code (e.g. P.5.8) according to the numerical order of the participant and the numerical order of the quotes expressed by the specific participant. Afterwards, the labeled quotes were paired in the corresponding key sub-categories and then themed with the relevant concepts of the Bourdieusian Theory.
This thesis, engaging the already successfully applied in relevant management fields practice turn, targeted to direct the research agenda of the project management field to a new path, the one of examining the project manager from a social point of view. This approach is, to the author's best knowledge, a first attempt of converting the Project-As-Practice theory to an active example. The main innovative parts of this Thesis are (i) the examination of the project manager through a sociological profile researching common characteristics among successful practitioners in a social context and (ii) the extention of the Bourdieusian Theory onto the project management field. This research contributes to knowledge by setting, as an indication, the sociological profile of the project manager stating that there are, possibly, sociological characteristics that may have an important role for project managers in their way of achieving success. As a result, Academics could identify a new path for the development of project management curricula, a direction that initially implies that the students need to understand both the philosophical and sociological side of the field of project management thus seeing more holistically and not just in a technical context their quest for knowledge. Concerning the practitioners of the field, this research suggests that project managers should seek for personal development in terms of social and cultural capital and should not disregard their personal growth because it is inseparably connected with their professional growth. What is the innovative outcome concerning practitioners, is the holistic approach they should adopt in their daily professional struggles meaning that they should interpret their decision-making mechanisms, their collaborations and their conflicts in a social context as well.