Student: Matthew Clarke
Affiliation: University of South Australia
Thesis written in English
Project management today as an established discipline, yet to some it is still emergent. The Project Management Institute espouses project management as a one-size-fits-all approach and a stand-alone discipline, but industry and organisational influences affect its application. If project management is a comprehensive approach, then the extent that industry and organisational influences affect its application is unclear.
The aim of this study was to establish the extent that project management is generic, transferable, and a stand-alone discipline. Commencing with a literature review, that summarised, evaluated, and compared current debates, five specific objectives were determined. These objectives assisted in establishing an appropriate research strategy in order to explore the factors that influence the application of project management and the need for further research.
The research strategy was inductive in orientation, the design utilised mixed-methods, and the research complied with an approved ethics protocol. The qualitative method used a semi-structured interview that provided flexibility and access to a targeted audience. In contrast, the quantitative research method used a web-survey that provided a general overview and access to a broader audience. Both of these research methods captured the necessary raw data from relevant respondents across different industries. The raw data were then analysed using thematic and statistical techniques.
The findings of the research identify that many factors influence and impact on project management and that largely fragmentation existed across all industries. These factors included the non-existence of a recognised framework, the competitive nature of organisations within industries, the perceived necessity of coupling it with a technical degree qualification, and that a traditional thinking paradigm existed that affected employment and development. The results suggest that project management is not generic, transferable or a stand-alone discipline. This was industry and organisation dependent, and reflective of their paradigms.
Further research on the influences of organisations and industries on project management, particularly organisational environments and maturity, might demonstrate that a generalised approach is not always achievable or required. The fact that organisations today are especially accountable to shareholders and other financial pressures affects the necessity for and the application of project management. Project management bodies need to understand these organisational issues and support them in order to remain relevant into the future. However, organisations also need to reflect on and address how effective and forward thinking their approaches are in adapting to internal and external aspects of their competitive environment and how project benefits can most effectively be realised in support of strategic initiatives and financial drivers.