SPONSORS

SPONSORS

Project Society in the Making

 

SERIES ARTICLE

Managing and Working in Project Society

By Rolf A. Lundin and Tim Brady

Sweden and UK

 



Writers have been heralding the coming of the project age for many years.  As long ago as the late 1950s Paul Gaddis’s book was extolling the virtues of a new type of manager – the Project Manager – whose business is to create a product – a piece of advanced-technology hardware. (Gaddis, 1959). Unlike so-called conventional managers in corporations at the time the project manager had to manage a higher proportion of professionals from the working level up through his subordinate managers. Gaddis points out that “crisis, uncertainty and suspense” are continual elements of project life.  He also says that the role of the project manager will be vital for the US to regain technological leadership.

The adhocracy movement

But while he was advocating the rise of a new type of manager, Gaddis was not forecasting a change in the nature of organisations away from monolithic enduring permanent organisations towards a more temporary form.  Indeed, the environment in which Gaddis was describing the rise of project managers was relatively stable – there was technological change but nothing like the rapid environmental changes that came to the fore in subsequent years.  It was Toffler (1970) who suggested that “(e)ach age produces a form of organization appropriate to its own tempo” (p.143). He acknowledged the existence of project groups as temporary forms by pointing out that there was nothing new about the idea of assembling a group to work towards the solution of a specific problem, then dismantling it when the task is completed. In his view however, what was new at the time of his book was the prevalence of such groups and “the frequency with which organizations must resort to such temporary arrangements.  He suggested the “seemingly permanent structures of many large organizations. . . are now heavily infiltrated with these transient cells.” (p.134). The use of the word ‘infiltrate’ by Toffler about these new forms was interesting in itself, suggesting some kind of surreptitious, almost covert activity in the face of resistance from the extant organizations. It was if the large hierarchical, bureaucratic organizations of industrial society were fighting a rear-guard action against the inevitable march of something new: adhocracy.

In describing the characteristics of what he called ‘super-industrial society’, Toffler was strongly influenced by the work of Warren Bennis who he quotes as suggesting that “(t)he key word will be ‘temporary’; there will be adaptive, rapidly changing temporary systems.” Problems will be solved by task forces composed of “relative strangers who represent a set of diverse professional skills.” (p.144). In Toffler’s vision of the brave new world, “rather than being trapped in a mindless bureaucratic machine, man will find himself liberated, a stranger in a world of kinetic organizations.” (Toffler, 1970 p.125).  In this world of adhocracy rather than permanence there would be transience – high mobility between organizations, never-ending reorganizations within them, and a constant generation and decay of temporary work groupings.  Toffler was at pains to impress on the reader that that “the rise of ad hoc organization is a direct effect of the speed-up of change in society as a whole” (p.135).

But there is not too much evidence that this world of kinetic organizations emerged quickly.  Rather, we find that there has been as gradual transition over the next 40 years or more as the traditional institutions continued to resist revolutionary change, with periodic announcements of the coming of the new age in which projects and temporary forms of organization will become dominant. If we fast-forward over 35 years from Gaddis’s book and 25 years from Toffler book we find researchers suggesting that projects and project management were becoming “the wave of the future in global business’ and that project management might replace traditional functional management as the key to competitive advantage in the 21st century” (Pinto and Kharbanda, 1995). Again, in the 1990s, we find a short book appearing with the title ‘Adhocracy’ extolling the virtues of  “the most common, sturdy, and visible ad hoc form: the project team, or task force” (Waterman, 1992; p.17). Waterman acknowledges the works of Bennis and Toffler but suggests that exactly how to create and manage these ad hoc forms was never fleshed out and applied to the real world of business. Waterman bemoans the trend of businesses employing consultants at huge expense to supply ad hoc teams to work on projects that could and probably should be handled by their own internal managers and employees. His book is filled with stories about successful implementation of ad hoc teams in a variety of settings including life insurance, computer firms, real estate developers, clothes manufacturers, sports teams, oil companies.  The message is clear.  If you want to be successful in today’s (i.e. the 1990s) environment, you need to learn how to manage adhocracy.

Waterman was one of the co-authors of the best-selling management book In Search of Excellence.  His co-author, Tom Peters, was also writing about the rise of projects in a series of ‘how-to’ books which were published at the end of the 1990s – The Project50: Fifty Ways to Transform Every “Task” into a Project That Matters! and The Professional Service Firm 50: Fifty Ways to Transform Your “Department” into a Professional Service Firm Whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation!  According to Peters, “in the new economy, all work is project work”, and he urges individuals to become project gurus and turn their functional departments into fully-fledged professional service firms.  Again, the language is interesting. He suggests that it is ‘cool’ to be seen to work in this way. According to Peters, “(t)he cool professional service firm is just that: cool talent, a portfolio of cool projects, cool clients. Period. Its only asset—literally—is brains. Its only product is projects. Its only aim is truly memorable client service.” So, shifting towards project forms of organization in which internal teams deliver services to other parts of the organization is something to be encouraged as it’s fashionable, hip and cool.

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This is article is one in a series based on the book Managing and Working in Project Society by Rolf A. Lundin, Niklas Arvidsson, Tim Brady, Eskil Ekstedt, Christophe Midler and Jörg Sydow, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.  The book won the PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award in 2016.

How to cite this article: Lundin, R. and Brady, T. (2018). Project Society in the Making, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue XII (December). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pmwj77-Dec2018-Brady-Lundin-Project-Society-in-the-Making.pdf



About the Authors


Tim Brady

University of Brighton
United Kingdom

 


Tim Brady
is Professor of Innovation in the Centre for Research in Innovation Management at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton. His current research interests include the management of complex projects and programmes and learning and capability development in project-based business. He is a leader of Theme E (Knowledge Management and Capabilities) in Project X, an initiative aiming to improve performance of UK public sector projects and was a member of the EPSRC-funded Rethinking Project Management network, and Deputy Director of the ESRC-funded CoPS Innovation Centre. His research has been published widely in academic management journals.

 


Rolf Lundin, PhD

Jönköping International Business School
Jönköping, Sweden

 

 

Rolf A Lundin is a professor (em.) of Business Administration at the Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and a Courtesy Professor-in-Residence at the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).  He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Chicago (now the Booth Business School) in Management Science.  He has been a full professor since 1978, first at the business school of the University of Umeå (in northern Sweden), where he was also the founding dean of that school.  In 2001 he was recruited to dean JIBS.  He stepped down as dean in 2007.  Since then he has been affiliated with the Media Management and Transformation Center.  He has several publications in the management of projects and temporary organization area and is currently serving on the board for the PMI Global Accreditation Center which is working with accreditation of project management educational programs around the world.  His current research focus is on the use of projects in media industries.  Rolf is active in the Swedish Project Academy. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Brady and Lundin are co-authors of Managing and Working in Project Society: Institutional Challenges of Temporary Organizations, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press and winning the 2016 PMI Book of the Year award.

To view other works by Prof Lundin, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/rolf-a-lundin/

 

 

Grass Root Involvement in a Mega Program

Managing and Working in Project Society

SERIES ARTICLE

By Tomas Blomquist, Nils Wåhlin and Rolf A. Lundin

Stockholm, Sweden

 



For several years, the European Union has annually appointed a city in Europe to be the European Capital of Culture. Lately two different cities have in fact been chosen for each year in order to promote the development in the regions of the EU member states. For 2014 the cities were Riga in Latvia and Umeå in northern Sweden. Cities apply for the title by presenting a preliminary plan for how they are to prove that they deserve the honor to be the European Capital of Culture and the plans are scrutinized by EU officials visiting the city applicants in the competition. It is not only an honor to be selected, but the cities chosen will also receive financial resources from the union in order to carry through efforts related to the title.

The two cities used different approaches to select activities to prove themselves worthy of the nomination. In Riga, the politicians in charge chose a set of activities with which Riga should demonstrate that they were devoted to culture and worthy of the selection. A top-down procedure was used, almost of a mega project type (cf. Van Marrewijk, 2015), where decisions about activities and resources were made by the city top government handing over the concrete work and the responsibilities to cultural administrators working for the city government.

The Umeå approach selected was almost the opposite, i.e. more of a bottom-up character where the initial step was to invite individuals from citizens-at-large, associations, companies, etcetera to submit suggestions for activities to prove the city worthy of the culture title. The effort received a lot of publicity with the help of local newspapers, TV programs and the like. A main idea revolves around the notion of co-creation; how to involve as many citizens as possible in different activities and projects. Co-creation became an important criterion for making choices between projects to be included in the program.

The range of various projects suggested to be potential parts of the program for the year was impressive and the question “what is culture” was debated a lot with an open mindset. To mention just one suggestion to demonstrate the open attitude: “How have birds moving south during the winter period changed their migrating behavior in terms of routes and time resulting from climate changes?” An interesting project, but it had an inherent difficulty – it was not evidently related to culture. But instead of rejecting the project it was used as a project for place-marketing. Birds normally return to the same location year after year and in that way the birds showed the way to the European Capital of Culture.

Cities in the neighborhood of Umeå were also activated in various ways promoting cultural events to take place in the year of 2014. The effort was conceived as one promoting the northern region of the country. There were also efforts to combine activities with Riga, but the outcome from the collaborative effort between the two cities was meager.

The Sami Ingredient

One of the key special reasons for Umeå winning the competition between cities was the connection to the indigenous people living in the northern parts of Norway, Finland, Russia and Sweden in an area called Sapmi. Umeå is a part of Sapmi and the Sami people is a part of the northern community as one of few indigenous people in Europe. Traditionally the life of the Sami people (who move around with the reindeers as a way of their cattle raising) is circulating around how reindeers have to be taken care of to preserve the need for nourishment. In order to follow the movement of reindeers, the Sami people are dividing the year in eight different seasons.

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This is article is one in a series based on the book Managing and Working in Project Society by Rolf A. Lundin, Niklas Arvidsson, Tim Brady, Eskil Ekstedt, Christophe Midler and Jörg Sydow, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.  The book won the PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award in 2016.

 




About the Authors



Tomas Blomquist, PhD

Umeå School of Business and Economics
Umeå, Sweden

 


Tomas Blomquist
is a professor in Business Administration at Umeå University. He is the director of research at the department and the research profile leader for the business school’s research profile on Projects, Innovation and Networks. He is currently involved in work on behavioral aspects of coaching in business incubation and inter-organizational aspects of business development around digitalization and IoT. Tomas has previously done research with mixed methods research and his work is published in several international journals including Business Horizons, Business Strategy and the Environment, Industrial Marketing Management, Harvard Business Review, and Project Management Journal and International Journal of Project Management. His latest publication in International Journal of Project Management develops a self-efficacy scale for project management. A six-item self-efficacy scale that predicts project management performance and might be used for selection and hiring of project managers.

 


Nils Wåhlin, PhD

Umeå School of Business and Economics
Umeå, Sweden

 


Nils Wåhlin
is Associate Professor in Business Administration at Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University. His research focuses on management and organization studies in general with a special interest for practices of organizing and strategizing. He is currently doing studies on European Capitals of Culture and published recently a co-authored book with the title Urban Strategies for Culture-Driven Growth. Co-creating a European Capital of Culture on Edward Elgar Publishing. He can be contacted at [email protected].



Rolf Lundin, PhD

Jönköping International Business School
Jönköping, Sweden

 


Rolf A Lundin
is a professor (em.) of Business Administration at the Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and a Courtesy Professor-in-Residence at the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).  He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Chicago (now the Booth Business School) in Management Science.  He has been a full professor since 1978, first at the business school of the University of Umeå (in northern Sweden), where he was also the founding dean of that school.  In 2001 he was recruited to dean JIBS.  He stepped down as dean in 2007.  Since then he has been affiliated with the Media Management and Transformation Center.  He has several publications in the management of projects and temporary organization area and is currently serving on the board for the PMI Global Accreditation Center which is working with accreditation of project management educational programs around the world.  His current research focus is on the use of projects in media industries.

Prof Lundin is the lead author of the monograph Managing and Working in Project Society: Institutional Challenges of Temporary Organizations, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press and winning the 2016 PMI Book of the Year award.  Rolf is active in the Swedish Project Academy. He can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Prof Lundin, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/rolf-a-lundin/

 

 

Championship or Collective Behavior

Another Look at Entrepreneurial Activities

SERIES ARTICLE

Managing and Working in Project Society

By Timothy Wilson and Rolf A. Lundin

Stockholm, Sweden

 


The emergence of a Project Society points to the need to take a closer look at what is happening in practice in the business world as it presently functions. One important statement is: “The traditional way of approaching economic activity becomes obsolete in the emergent Project Society”, (Lundin et al., 2015, 1). This general statement signals the possible need to take a close look at what has been taken for granted previously. In that regard, our understanding of successful development tends to be evolutionary.  That is, we build on concepts that have been accepted over time.  One of these has been the role of a champion in a project – the definition of which is supplied to us from Schon (1963, 84).  “Essentially, the champion must be a person willing to put himself/herself on the line for an idea of doubtful success. He or she is willing to fail. But he/she is capable of using any and every means of informal sales and pressure in order to succeed”. 1

We let the focus on the champion be in our main concern. The champion is in fact described as the one person around whom everything orbits. It is in line with the idea of the project manager as being the one in charge and with all the responsibilities, the person who receives all the praise if things go well and all the blame when things don’t. Others on the team are then described as followers to do what they are told to do.

But the world keeps changing – possibly differently in different parts of the world and so are the habits on organizing in projects. Life is not getting simpler. It is nowadays very difficult to identify project management with a single manager. Further, in practical projects, people take on informal roles in a context where formal roles also exist.

As an illustration, the Swedish Project Academy (see Lundin & Söderholm, 2012), where practitioners and researchers cooperate, every year awards the title “Project Manager of the year” in the Swedish context. From the very beginning (the academy was founded in 1994) it has in fact been very difficult to locate the one person to receive the award. In 2016 there were two award winners (see Ragnarsson & Lundin, 2017) who both worked on the same project, but had slightly different areas of responsibilities. Awarding more than one person has in fact happened quite often (even though the project has been the same). Consequently, in the academy we have had several discussions about locating and awarding “the project of the year” and not let the focus be on awarding ”the project manager of the year”. Thereby, we would recognize the collectivity of the project efforts. It would be suggested that this line of thinking would hold for Sweden and the Nordic countries, and is somewhat in line with similar findings around the world.

Now permit us to go to entrepreneurship. In the Lundin et al text (2015, 220-223) it is suggested that research on projects and entrepreneurship have followed parallel, but separate paths. Perhaps it is time to bring them back together. A recent study has been conducted in which both early-stage entrepreneurial activity (individual) and entrepreneurial employee activity (organizational, e.g., intrapreneurship) have been identified and compiled for 44 separate countries (World Economic Forum, 2015).  Sweden was included in the 44 countries studied.

Attention was given to both early-stage entrepreneurial activity (generally activity of individuals) and entrepreneurial employee activity (activity of employees within a group – commonly referred to as “intrapreneurship”).  Among developed, industrial countries Sweden was on the low end of activities of individual entrepreneurs at approximately 5 percent of the population (World Economic Forum, 2015, 7-11), whereas the U.S., for instance, was at around 11 percent. Sweden was on the high end, however, of entrepreneurial employee activity, approximately 10 percent, so in combination study suggested that the country had a combined effort of around 15 percent of entrepreneurial activity in the population.

This is our observation on Sweden’s 10 percent. In a recent case study of a Swedish platform project of an intrapreneurship type, it was determined that no one champion of the project was to be found.  Instead, “just highly motivated individuals in a group” were associated with the development of the project (Burström and Wilson, 2014, 511). That was surprising because the authoritative study on platform projects (Chai et al, 2012) identified a champion commonly in their 242 project sample. Possibly, the high motivation might in part be explained by the special character of the project and the fact that success was ascribed to the team rather to any isolated individual. In effect, this was big business; the future of the company was at stake so this project under study had a high profile for everyone and was of a personal interest for everyone in the entire group. Just as our situation with the Swedish Project Academy, the notion of a champion might not have a clear attractiveness in respondents’ thinking. Participant tended to be more collectively oriented. Heroes, culprits and champions are terms used to describe events and personalities. Not so much in Sweden. In general, Swedes tend to be cautious in their statements and in outspoken attitudes. Responsibility is shared; ergo, it was the group that did it. We did follow up on champions and championship among individuals doing research on projects in the group at Umeå. It was six for six. None of them could say that they had encountered the term in any of their studies.

That does not say of course that there are not Swedish champions. Of those who have been appointed Project Manager of the Year, there is essentially only one who could be denoted a “champion”, Björn Helander. He received the award in 2010 for starting and leading the “Save the Sea Eagle” project. In the middle of the former century, the sea eagles were close to extinct in the Baltic area. The reasons were many: the fish in the Baltic was full of poisons due to pollution, people found that sea eagles were a threat to farm animals (the rumor was even that sea eagles had killed babies) so if found eagle nests were often destroyed.

Helander had a personal interest in eagles – for one thing he had written a PhD thesis on sea eagles – so he took on the task to try to save the sea eagles from extinction. In his actions he appeared to be a “soul of fire”…

More…

Author’s footnote 1: The Schon reference refers to the champion as a male, but in an effort to make our discussion about champion gender neutral, we transformed the citation to make it more in line with present facts. In the group of “project managers of the year” several are females.

To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This series of articles is based on the theme and concepts in the book Managing and Working in Project Society by Rolf A. Lundin, Niklas Arvidsson, Tim Brady, Eskil Ekstedt, Christophe Midler and Jörg Sydow, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015. The book won the PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award in 2016.


 

About the Authors


Timothy L. Wilson, PhD

Visiting Professor
Umeå School of Business and Economics
Umeå, Sweden

 

 

Timothy L. Wilson has a PhD in Engineering (Carnegie Mellon University, 1965), a PhD in Marketing (Case-Western University, 1983) and an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences from Umeå University (2013). His experience in projects and project management comes from 15 years in fundamental materials research and high technology product development as a graduate engineer. His academic interest in projects dates from the initial IRNOP conference in Lycksele, Sweden. Tim’s research interests are in applied business topics, primarily Swedish and most recently Municipal Public Housing in Sweden.

Wilson is co-author of 21 journal articles on projects with members of Umeå’s Project Group; the most recent will appear in Business Horizons with Mattias Jacobsson “Revisiting the construction of the Empire State Building: Have we forgotten something?” He is co-editor of the monograph The Video Game Industry: Formation, Present State, and Future. Projects in that industry are really interesting and the people even more so. He may be contacted at [email protected]

 


Rolf Lundin, PhD

Jönköping International Business School
Jönköping, Sweden

 

 

 

Rolf A Lundin is a professor (em.) of Business Administration at the Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and a Courtesy Professor-in-Residence at the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE). He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Chicago (now the Booth Business School) in Management Science. He has been a full professor since 1978, first at the business school of the University of Umeå (in northern Sweden), where he was also the founding dean of that school. In 2001 he was recruited to dean JIBS. He stepped down as dean in 2007. Since then he has been affiliated with the Media Management and Transformation Center. He has several publications in the management of projects and temporary organization area and is currently serving on the board for the PMI Global Accreditation Center which is working with accreditation of project management educational programs around the world. His current research focus is on the use of projects in media industries.

He is the lead author of the monograph Managing and Working in Project Society: Institutional Challenges of Temporary Organizations, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press winning the 2016 PMI Book of the Year award.  Rolf is active in the Swedish Project Academy. He can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by Prof Lundin, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/rolf-a-lundin/

 

A Digitalization Project for a Changing Society

SERIES ARTICLE

Managing and Working in Project Society

By Mats Ragnarsson and Rolf A. Lundin, PhD

Sweden

 



Every year the Swedish Project Academy chooses “The Project Manager of the Year” as one of many ways to promote and develop project work by awarding good practices. The functions of the academy have been alluded to in a previous article in PM World Journal (Lundin & Söderholm, 2012). The award has been given every year since the project academy started in 1994. When the decision is made on the recipient to receive the award, the criteria are: exerted leadership, project results, project scope, complexity and fresh ideas. It is significant that it is project leadership rather than project management that is rewarded!

Chosen for 2016 were two persons, one female and one male: Charlotte Dingertz and Claes Johannesson who both are working for the local government of Stockholm connected to public schools. The fact that two persons received the award for the same project is in a way significant for this part of the world, where leadership is not considered to be concentrated to one person only. The project has been called ”Digitalization for Better Learning”.

The young students at school today will be working in other ways and with other things than previous generations. There will be new and fundamentally changed occupations driven by the adaptation to project society and the connections to digitalization. And the new generation is in need of modern ways of teaching.

The winners this time have been in charge of a major project (or possibly a number of projects) to increase the potential of teachers to use digital means and methods to improve their work in teaching to promote profound changes in the way students learn in preparing for future needs.

The project was started in 2013 with the purpose to improve and to utilize the inherent capacities that digitalization provides for pre-university education in the Stockholm area ranging from primary schools to secondary schools. This far, the project has been very successful in the sense that for instance the secondary schools in general have increased their competence level by 35% in the digital area (according to a measurement instrument developed within the project). This was achieved only two years after the new tool was developed.

Headmasters and teachers of 180 schools were involved (and in total 12 000 employees in the school system in Stockholm)By introducing web based tools, by working out action plans and very concrete actions, by direct communication to those involved and through more than 300 visits to school sites, good and tangible results have been reached. The tools and the procedures used have demonstrated the strength of the collegial learning for the future development of the schools. The tools are unique and have renewed the thinking related to changes of the school system. One headmaster has officially described the entire venture as “the best thing ever happening in the Stockholm school system”.

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles from members of the Swedish Project Academy is based on the theme and concepts in the book Managing and Working in Project Society by Rolf A. Lundin, Niklas Arvidsson, Tim Brady, Eskil Ekstedt, Christophe Midler and Jorg Sydow, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.  The book won the PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award in 2016. Check back next month for another article in this series.


 

About the Authors


Mats Ragnarsson

Gothenburg, Sweden

 



Mats Ragnarsson
has 30 years of experience in project management. He spent 11 years as project manager in product development for all kinds of projects, ranging from small projects to large and complex projects involving more than 350 people. The remaining 19 years have been spent as a consultant for Wenell Management, where he has worked on international assignments for SKF and AstraZeneca.  He is a coordinator for the research committee at the Swedish Project Academy, an academy that stimulates research and awards the Project Manager of the Year in Sweden.

Mats also has a history as a reserve officer in the Swedish Navy and is very interested in the ocean and boating.

Mats is author of the books:

Leading in Uncertain and Complex Projects – Supporting structures for self-management (Mats Ragnarsson and Lars Marmgren) and

Organizing Projects – From a mechanical to an organic perspective (Mats Ragnarsson and Lars Marmgren)

 

 
Rolf Lundin, PhD

Jönköping International Business School

Jönköping, Sweden

 

 

Rolf A Lundin is a professor (em.) of Business Administration at the Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and a Courtesy Professor-in-Residence at the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).  He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Chicago (now the Booth Business School) in Management Science.  He has been a full professor since 1978, first at the business school of the University of Umeå (in northern Sweden), where he was also the founding dean of that school.  In 2001 he was recruited to dean JIBS.  He stepped down as dean in 2007.  Since then he has been affiliated with the Media Management and Transformation Center.  He has several publications in the management of projects and temporary organization area and is currently serving on the board for the PMI Global Accreditation Center which is working with accreditation of project management educational programs around the world.  His current research focus is on the use of projects in media industries.

He is the lead author of the monograph Managing and Working in Project Society: Institutional Challenges of Temporary Organizations, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press winning the 2016 PMI Book of the Year award.  Rolf is active in the Swedish Project Academy. He can be contacted at [email protected]

 

Project Networks – More than Managing Projects

SERIES ARTICLE

Managing and Working in Project Society

By Jörg Sydow and Rolf A. Lundin

Germany and Sweden

 


The emerging Project Society comprises a wide variety of projects and other forms of temporary organizations as illustrated and exemplified in the book “Managing and Working in Project Society” (Lundin et al., 2015). Projects are used for research and development efforts, marketing and advertising campaigns, content production for television and the Internet, designing and constructing building as well as machinery and defense. In the book mentioned, the point is made that it is more appropriate and useful to discuss the contexts of projects rather than restricting oneself to define what a project is and to recommend project management techniques and practices in any generic way. For, there is an urgent need to adapt managing a project in situ to make it in line with the social, spatial and temporal contexts since the circum­stances (often changing at the same time) are crucial for the management outcome. Three groups of contexts are depicted in that book: Project-Based Organizations (PBOs), Project-Supported Organizations (PSOs) and Project Networks (PNWs).

One might think of project management in a PBO context as fairly stable in the sense that a formal order with a hierarchy has been established and routines been developed making projects in that context (look) more efficient. One more recent example illustrating the organizational focus on developing and diffusing project knowledge and routines is the project management office (PMO). But seen over a long time, the different projects, even within an organization, either a PBO or a PSO, change. Hence, it comes as no surprise that an important task of a PMO is to organize learning across projects in organizations. To take construction projects as an example, there is now a need for construction companies, typically conceived as PBOs, to attend to the multitude of new construction materials, noise reduction, energy saving measures and the like and at the same time to adopt organizing practices developed in other fields of practice (e.g. IT services). And obviously that multitude of changes has effects on how to manage not only the organization but the project in the contexts of a PBO or PSO.

The immediate contexts of PBOs and PSOs, i.e, organizations, are quite well understood with regard to managerial implications for project management (e.g. handling schedules and resources for each project, setting up a PMO, designing career systems for project managers, etc.). These contexts are traditional and have been well known for a very long time in line with the historical development of the project management field (cf. Wenell et al., 2017). However, this is much less the case for PNWs which are more dynamic, changing and diverse. What is more, managing PNWs can only to a limited extent rely on organizational contexts and techniques and practices known from organizations. Not only for that reason, managing projects in interorganizational networks requires understanding the context beyond the boundaries of a single organization. Hence, managing PNWs asks for managerial attention, capabilities and knowledge regarding interorganizational collaborations, how to initiate, maintain, deepen or end them around and with the help of projects (Lundin et al., 2015; Sydow et al., 2016).

What is more, PNWs may include not only collaborating organizations but also individuals (self-employed or self-activated) making them often more ephemeral than collaboration within organizations. In consequence, managing PNWs usually needs institutional support from the wider field. For instance, PNWs in the film and television industry, which is even more than the construction industry characterized by many self-employed or micro businesses, rely for their functioning on institutionalized events and specialized service providers, many of them PBOs themselves. Examples for the former are film festivals and award ceremonies; examples for the latter film studios and hirer of technical equipment. These brokering institutions – field events as well as service providers – are in the case of the film and television industry quite intentionally used to create, maintain or deepen relationships; relationships which are essential in PNW not only for advertising unused capacities and acquiring new projects but also for nurturing the pool of (potential) collaborators – organizations as well as self-employed entre­preneurs – and to exchange and store professional knowledge, not least about technological changes or regarding the management of PNWs.

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This series of articles is based on the theme and concepts in the book Managing and Working in Project Society by Rolf A. Lundin, Niklas Arvidsson, Tim Brady, Eskil Ekstedt, Christophe Midler and Jörg Sydow, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015. The book won the PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award in 2016.

 


 

About the Authors


Dr. Jörg Sydow

Freie Universität Berlin
Berlin, Germany

 


Dr. Jörg Sydow
is a Professor of Management at the School of Business & Economics at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and a Visiting Professor at Strathclyde Business School, Glas­gow. Moreover, he is the director of the Research Unit “Organized Creativity”, sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), a founding co-editor of two leading German journals, Management­forschung and Industrielle Beziehungen – The German Journal of Industrial Relations, and a member of the editorial review boards of Organization Studies, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Manage­ment Studies, and The Scandinavian Journal of Management. For more information visit: http://www.wiwiss.fu-berlin.de/en/fachbereich/bwl/management/sydow/index.html

 


Rolf Lundin, PhD

Jönköping International Business School
Jönköping, Sweden

 

 

Rolf A Lundin is a professor (em.) of Business Administration at the Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) and a Courtesy Professor-in-Residence at the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE). He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Chicago (now the Booth Business School) in Management Science. He has been a full professor since 1978, first at the business school of the University of Umeå (in northern Sweden), where he was also the founding dean of that school. In 2001 he was recruited to dean JIBS. He stepped down as dean in 2007. Since then he has been affiliated with the Media Management and Transformation Center. He has several publications in the management of projects and temporary organization area and is currently serving on the board for the PMI Global Accreditation Center which is working with accreditation of project management educational programs around the world. His current research focus is on the use of projects in media industries.

He is the lead author of the monograph Managing and Working in Project Society: Institutional Challenges of Temporary Organizations, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press winning the 2016 PMI Book of the Year award.  Rolf is active in the Swedish Project Academy. He can be contacted at [email protected].