Management of Creative Projects

Challenges and Paradoxes


By Alina Kozarkiewicz and Agnieszka Kabalska

AGH University of Science and Technology

Cracow, Poland



Nowadays, the importance of creativity for social and economic development, including the development of individuals, organizations as well as sectors or regions, is taken for granted. So called creative industries (e.g. media, advertisement, video-games), seem to play more and more important role in the development of the economy (Banks at al., 2002; Seidel, 2011). What is to be underlined, all these creative industries are project-oriented as projects are the main way of carrying on the activities of enterprises (Simon, 2006; DeFillipi et al., 2007). Moreover, in traditional project-oriented industries, such as construction or IT, the growing expectations as to the novelty and originality of products and management processes seem to increase the interests in creativity of employees and teams (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2014).

The aim of this paper is to discuss the significance of the creativity in contemporary project management and to indicate the challenges and paradoxes rising from creative ideas and actions. On the basis of literature review the main attributes of creative projects will be demonstrated. In the next part, the most important pressures, challenges and paradoxes of creative project will be presented and discussed.

Key words: project management, creativity, paradoxes

JEL code: M10


Although the creativity of an individual or an organization has started to attract attention of the scientists in the beginning of the twentieth century, it seems to be accurate to underline that recently in the management research this interest has been developed into are markable phenomenon. Inquiries on creativity, typical for philosophy or psychology, have become the domain of the researchers in the field of management, and consequently, in a vast number of papers, creativity is demonstrated and analyzed as a source of the growth and success of contemporary enterprises, a key for improving the work environment, and as the basis of R&D and innovativeness (Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Amabile, 1996; Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2014). Moreover, it is noted that creative sectors, such as fashion, advertising, media or computer games, influence in more and more important way the economy of many countries (Banks et al., 2002; Seidel, 2011; Florida, 2005). Their share in the gross domestic product of many European countries grows constantly, resulting in the efforts of many governments to offer the conditions supporting the development of such industries. However, it should be emphasized that a huge diversity in the scope of research on creativity could be observed ‒ the levels of concern include individual and organizational creativity, the creative projects and teams, as well as creative classes, cities, regions or sectors.

Unquestionably, project management does not remain indifferent to the matter of creativity: its significance, sources or paradoxes (Kozarkiewicz, 2016). A project ‒ by its definition ‒ consists in creating the unique product or service. Thus, it results in the lack of the routine and repetitiveness, but in the search of new, original ideas instead. The creative sectors are project-oriented, they carry out their activities through projects. What is equally important, in traditional project industries, such as construction industry, more and more expectations appear in relation to the originality and the innovation, both with the reference to applied technologies or offered products, as well as management processes. It might be stated, consequently, that the management of creative projects constitutes nowadays a meaningful and current research topic.

This article should be regarded as a voice in the discussion described above. The aim of this paper is to make a contribution to the knowledge on creative project by exploiting simultaneously pressures, challenges and paradoxes related to the peculiarity of managing such projects. The paper is structured as follows. After a brief introduction, in the first part of the paper, the characteristics of creative projects are delineated concisely. Thereafter, on the basis of existing literature, the results of the analysis of diverse contingencies, especially the pressures for managers, are demonstrated. These pressures, for example new technological solutions or customers’ expectations, might be considered as the drivers of creativity. Some other pressures, for example the expectations as to the financial effectiveness of the project, however, could also form barriers for creativity in projects. In the next section of the paper, the analysis of creative projects is focused around the concept of the paradox. The research investigates the primary categories of paradoxes of creative projects resulting from the ambiguous expectations towards the product, the management process, or the team composition. As research reveals, in creative projects paradoxes concerning exacting choices between art and business, product functionality or design, schedule or innovation, raise a substantial question not only for the practice of project management, but also for the scientific research focused on description and understanding the phenomenon of creativity.

What should be outlined in the introduction to this paper, the diversity of creative projects frames the complexity of issues connected with managing of such projects. Thus, the description and discussion require some simplifications, synthesis or even brachylogy. In this paper, the systematizing assumption was made deliberately‒seven most important pressures, challenges and paradoxes were identified.

Creative projects and their categories

Indisputably, when defining the concept of creative project it would be impossible to omit even short discussion about the understanding of the term ‘creativity’ and delineating the contexts of some definitions…


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.
This paper was originally presented at the 6th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2017. It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers

About the Authors

Alina Kozarkiewicz

Cracow, POLAND


Alina Kozarkiewicz
awarded her master in management and doctoral degree in management from the AGH-University of Science and Technology, the Faculty of Management in Cracow, Poland. Next, in the year 2013 she awarded her habilitation (post-doctoral degree required in Polish academic system) from the University of Economics in Katowice. Since her graduation she has been working for the AGH-University of Science and Technology in Cracow holding the positions of teaching assistant, assistant professor and, at present, associate professor. She has been co-operating with numerous Polish universities, e.g. Warsaw School of Economics, University of Economics in Katowice, and Medical University in Warsaw. She visited and co-operated with many European universities, e.g. Umea University in Sweden, Dundee University in the UK or Arcada University in Helsinki, as well as University of Maryland, the USA. Her main interests include project management, innovation management and strategic management. She is an author or co-author of six books on project management and project management accounting (all in Polish) and of over hundred scientific papers. She presented her work at numerous conferences in Poland and abroad. Alina Kozarkiewicz can be contacted at akozarki@zarz.agh.edu.pl


Agnieszka Kabalska

Cracow, POLAND



Agnieszka Kabalska
is a PhD candidate with a specialization in strategic management at AGH Faculty of Management. She has gained her M.Sc. in mining geology at AGH Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection. Her scientific interests are focused on value configuration in business models, especially in Polish health resort enterprises. In parallel with scientific work, Agnieszka is professionally involved in the creation and implementation of industrial projects, which are primarily focused on cooperation between the academic and business environment – primarily on creating and implementing innovative ideas and technological solutions for business practice. She also works on market research projects for companies from various industries. Agnieszka is an author and co-author of scientific papers about the subject matter of business models and project management (strategic and creative projects). Agnieszka can be contacted at kabalska@agh.edu.pl