Management Organizing Function and Activities


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

Article 3 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 noted in the two previous articles of this series, this lead quotation reflects the widely acknowledged importance of general management skills in the management of projects. The coverage of general management skills in the project management literature is somewhat uneven. Some aspects are quite well covered, others less so.

This series of articles is primarily concerned with presenting a broad coverage of traditional/ classical materials on general management, which hopefully may fill in some of the gaps in current coverage in the project management literature, and help project managers either directly, or by pointing to sources for more detailed coverage of particular general management materials.

Another aim of this series is to look in a little more detail at various ways in which the functions and component activities of general management are relevant to the management of projects. I have tended to focus on materials that I have found to be most relevant and/or useful in over sixty years’ experience in both general management and project management

The first article of the series (Stretton 2015g) proposed a general management knowledge framework, as summarized on the right. The second article (Stretton 2015h) developed the “basic” general management function of planning, and its component activities, and discussed their relevance to the management of projects. This third article discusses the function of management organizing, and its component activities, developing organization structure, management delegation, and establishing relationships.


Definitions and components of management organizing

Management Organizing: the work a manager performs to arrange and relate the work to be done so that it may be performed most effectively by people.       (Allen 1964:163)

Allen identifies three primary component activities of management organizing:

  • Developing Organization Structure: The work a manager does to identify and group the work to be performed.
  • Management Delegation: The work a manager performs to entrust responsibility and authority to others, and to establish accountability for results.
  • Establishing Relationships: The work a manager performs to create the conditions necessary for mutually cooperative efforts of people.


One of the key differences between organizations in the general management context and projects is that the former is generally concerned with permanent organizations, whilst projects are temporary organizations. The latter are a particular interest of the Scandinavian School of project management (Morris 2013:69).

However, most, if not all, permanent organizations undertake projects. In this context we distinguish between two types of such permanent organizations. I follow Cooke-Davies 2002 in describing these as production-based organizations and project-based organizations, and borrow from Archibald et al 2012 (who use different descriptors) in defining them:


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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/.