Interview with Lin Shaopei


PM Talents Are Nutrition of Economic Growth

Interview with Prof Lin Shaopei

Institute of Engineering Management

Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China


Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan

Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)

Journalist’s Introduction

Lin Shaopei is a professor of the Institute of Engineering Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. For his extraordinary contribution to PM profession, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of PMI (China) in 2012, the Excellent Service Award of ICE in 2015 and the Service Achievement Award of PMI GAC in 2016. He has published nine books and more than 200 papers in Chinese and international journals, conferences covering a variety of disciplines, including AI, engineering, economics, system engineering, computational mechanics, computer application, and fuzzy mathematics applications, etc.

Having been in this profession for over three decades, Professor Lin Shaopei takes PM promotion and talent cultivation as his obligation. Though he majored in Science engineering in college, he changed his career to project management to “follow the tide” in 1980s. In his eyes, life itself is about identifying trends and adapting yourself to the tendencies. It turned out that he made a successful career transformation as he has become a distinguished figure in project management.

As a journalist, I’m impressed by Professor Lin Shaopei’s enthusiasm for this profession and professional spirit. Though in his eighties, he is still active in devoting himself to studying project management in VUCA era. During the interview, he was busy with an exchange visit in Israel but he delivered what he had promised so that the interview article can be published on time, to which I owe my sincere gratitude. In my eyes, Professor Lin Shaopei is a gentleman with universal love as he puts prosperity of the country and the profession before his own fame and interests. It’s the honor of our PM community to have such dedicated promoters as Professor Lin Shaopei.


PMR:      You’ve noted that prosperity of a nation depends on economic growth and the growth of economy depends on projects. Would you please elaborate on this view?

Lin Shaopei (Shaopei):           The project is the economic cell of society. Without best practices and successful projects, there will be no economic prosperity of a nation. In other words, if you want the cells of your body to be stronger, you need to have nutrition and physical exercise. For a country, if you want the projects to be successful, you really need PM talents and favorite social environment. Here, PM talents are similar to nutrition and favorite environment such as government policies, soundness of legislation system as well as prosperous market potentiality etc., is like physical exercise for growing the cells.

PMR:      Under the One Belt and Road Initiative, more Chinese enterprises will “go out”. In terms of risk management, would you please offer them some tips? What are the major causes for overseas project failure?

Shaopei:          During my five years’ theoretical and practical site visit’s investigation (2010-1014) in the Sino-UK joint research project on the overseas construction and investment behavior of Chinese enterprises, I have had a deep understanding about this problem and concluded that besides the conventional political, economic, legislative, cultural, technical and management risks, the failure of Chinese enterprises are caused by their decision makers who have stepped into the “Decision Traps”. There are nine decision traps, namely:

  1. Trap of mis-understanding(by fickleness and extreme
  2. Trap of lost control (by chaos in thinking philosophy)
  3. Trap in mis-direction (by blind judgment)
  4. 4. Trap in lack of investigation (by great determination under less information)
  5. Trap in mis-judgment (by experientialism and dogmatism)
  6. Trap in moral insufficiency (by swindle and failure in good faith)
  7. 7. Trap in learning insufficiency (less leadership by lack of diligence)
  8. Trap in irresponsibility (by less professional ethics)

Moreover, the implicit risks are more severe than the explicit risks mentioned above. The problem lies in its implicitness, severity and difficulty in removal. The implicit risks can be moved only if the “soft power” of the enterprises and its staffs would be approached to the international market standard. The “soft power’ is not only to be represented by the military and economic potentialities, but more importantly by the market behavior of enterprises as well as the personal qualification of its staffs.

PMR:      As you have emphasized, in practice we should combine western project management knowledge with China’s actual situation. Would you like to explain more on this topic?


To read entire interview, click here


Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/


About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China


Yu Yanjuan
, Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review Magazine and website. In the past, she has worked as a journalist and editor for China Manned Space Agency website and Student English Times. She once worked part-time as English teacher in training centers. For work contact, she can be reached via email [email protected] or Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuan-yu-76b280151/.