A general management framework, and its relevance to managing the project life cycle



Series on general management functions and activities, and their relevance to the management of projects

Article 1 of 7

By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia



General management provides the foundation for building project management skills and is often essential for the project manager. On any given project, skill in any number of general management areas may be required. General management literature documents these skills, and their application is fundamentally the same on a project.                 (PMI 2004:15)

As is indicated in this lead quotation, the importance of general management in the management of projects is widely acknowledged. However, its treatment in the project management literature is uneven. Key bodies of knowledge and competency standards of project management differ in their coverage of general management, as do books and other relevant publications. Overall, some aspects of general management are quite well covered, but others not so well.

It is also implied in the lead quotation that project managers can access the general management literature to fill in gaps in their knowledge and skills in this domain. However, this is easier said than done. The general management literature is voluminous, and it is not necessarily easy to quickly access the materials sought.

This suggested to me that it might be useful to present an overview of basic general management materials, which may help project managers directly, and/or help guide them towards more detailed relevant materials. However, it would be an enormous task – and well beyond my current capabilities – to cover all general management materials. I have therefore made a conscious choice to focus on traditional/ classical management materials as they developed up to around the mid-1980s. Although there have been many developments in management literature and practice since then, the framework I have chosen for presenting these materials is still widely quoted today, and its materials still underlie much current management practice.

This article first presents a figure illustrating the evolution of historical general management theories, and then establishes the traditional/ classical management framework used in this series of seven articles. This comprises “basic” management functions and their component activities, plus a group of “technical” management functions and activities. This article then shows how the “basic” management functions can be applied to the management of the phases of a project life cycle.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles on general management principles applied to project management is by Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon), Life Fellow of AIPM (Australia), a pioneer in the field of professional project management and one of the most widely recognized voices in the practice of program and project management.   Long retired, Alan is still accepting some of the most challenging research and writing assignments; he is a frequent contributor to the PM World Journal. See his author profile below.


About the Author


pmwj36-Jul2015-Stretton-PHOTOAlan 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 150 professional articles and papers. Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.