Notes on general management, project management and professionalism


By Alan Stretton 

Sydney, Australia


In a recent paper in this journal (Stretton 2013g) I identified two quite different interpretations of how the nouns ‘profession’ and ‘professional’ are understood and used.

I described one of these two interpretations as a ‘specific’ interpretation of ‘profession’ (following an indicator in the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary). The essence of this interpretation was that it involved specialised study/ education/ training and/or advanced knowledge in relevant professional domains.

The ‘generalist’ understanding (again following the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary) was that ‘profession’ embraces any avocation, or occupation, as a means of earning a living.

This note is concerned with the ‘specific’ interpretation of ‘profession’ as it applies in the project management context, and with some issues which may be relevant to this.


In another recent paper in this journal entitled “A specialist-generalist perspective of project management” (Stretton 2013j), I made the point that a good deal of the knowledge associated with project management can be represented as knowledge of basic ‘generalist’ (i.e. general) management, and supporting disciplines, being applied in the ‘specialist’ project context.

For quite some time, project management institutions have been increasingly active in promoting the objective of having the project management avocation designated as a profession in its own right. If the assertion in the preceding paragraph is valid, then we can ask an interesting question.

If project management were to be designated as a profession in its own right, should not general management, which is a major component of project management, be also designated a profession?

We now look at the question of general management being represented as a profession in its ‘specific’ interpretation. 


To read entire paper (click here)

About the Author 

alan-stretton-bioflag-australiaAlan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management

and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)

Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia) 

Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 140 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].