Some implications of a changing world for the management of projects


By Alan Stretton, PhD

Sydney, Australia


This paper is concerned with identifying a variety of changes and/or trends which have occurred in the world at large over the past couple of decades, and with charting the implications of these changes/ trends for the management of projects.

Much of this material comes from existing publications, particularly in the project management field, so that it appears to represent relatively recent “cause-and-effect” recognitions, which it is hoped may be useful in their own right.

A second purpose of this paper is to illustrate how these types of “cause-and-effect” charts may encourage and/or help people working in project management to develop their own insights into how their particular concerns in a continuing changing world could impact on the management of their projects.


This paper has a quite a long pre-history. At the 1994 PMI Seminar/Symposium in Vancouver, the Standards Committee sponsored a working session on “Some implications of a changing world for the management of projects”. I had drafted a cause-and-effect “road map” (perhaps a misnomer for such a draft document), which was the principal document for facilitating this working session. This initial road map was developed substantially from materials already in the project management literature about trends in project management, and partly from relevant materials in the more general literature (with of course my personal interpretations of both). The fifteen participants in this working session freely critiqued this road map, and brought up many issues which had not been covered. Overall, it proved to be a stimulating session.

Over the next few years, I further developed and expanded this road map into several precedence-type charts, which incorporate issues deriving from the working session, and further contributions from the project management and wider literatures. From time to time I discussed these materials with my mature aged students in the Master of Project Management (MPM) course at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and benefited further from their input.

These efforts produced what appeared to me at the time (the late 1990s) to be potentially worthwhile contributions to the project management literature. However, for reasons which I cannot recollect, I did not elect to publish them. I have now revisited these efforts, and have done some further reading of more recent relevant publications. Although my reading was far from exhaustive, it appeared to me that there has not been quite as much written in the past decade directly on cause-and-effect matters in project management as in the previous decade.


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. This paper was originally published in the PM World Today eJournal in January 2011; it is republished here with the author’s permission.

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 120 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].