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Sundqvist, Erik
Publications (10 of 10) Show all publications
Sundqvist, E. (2019). The Role of Project Managers as Improvement Agents In Project-Based Organizations. Project Management Journal, 50(3), 376-390
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Role of Project Managers as Improvement Agents In Project-Based Organizations
2019 (English)In: Project Management Journal, ISSN 8756-9728, E-ISSN 1938-9507, Vol. 50, no 3, p. 376-390Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We propose that the project manager is implicitly expected to participate in and contribute to continuous improvement in Project-Based Organizations.This paper explores how the project management literature treats the project manager in relation to improving overall PBO performance. The results, supported by case study insights, indicate implicit expectations of the project manager to contribute to organization-level PBO improvement. We argue that, if organization-level improvement should be part of project management practice in PBOs, as promoted in project management literature, the role of improvement agent needs to be formalized for the project manager.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2019
Keywords
Project-based organization, Improvement, Project manager, Role, Behavior, Long-term
National Category
Business Administration Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-71038 (URN)10.1177/8756972819832784 (DOI)000469387700010 ()2-s2.0-85064268230 (Scopus ID)
Note

Validerad;2019;Nivå 2;2019-06-20 (johcin)

Available from: 2018-09-30 Created: 2018-09-30 Last updated: 2019-06-20Bibliographically approved
Backlund, F. & Sundqvist, E. (2018). Continuous improvement: challenges for the project-based organization. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 5(7), 1306-1320
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuous improvement: challenges for the project-based organization
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, ISSN 0265-671X, E-ISSN 1758-6682, Vol. 5, no 7, p. 1306-1320Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

There are limited studies of Continuous improvement from the perspective of a project-based organization (PBO). Hence, this article explores challenges that PBOs may encounter when applying Continuous improvement.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory and qualitative approach has been used, involving six management teams in six different project-based organizations, using focus groups interviews as data collecting method.

Findings

A high degree of autonomy among project managers seems to limit a collective approach to project management in PBOs. As a consequence the overall PBO performance becomes subordinate to the individual project performance – an approach opposite to that of Continuous improvement. Further, the management teams themselves seem to uphold a project focus, also complicating improvement initiatives from a PBO perspective.

Research limitations/implications

The management teams have been the unit of analysis, where the PBOs mainly conduct projects in an engineering and construction context, and are located in the same country and region. This approach enables the thorough study of a phenomenon, while preconditions for generalization are limited. However, the findings could be used by researchers as a basis for more in-depth studies of specific challenges, and for making surveys to obtain generalization of results.

Practical implications

The results can induce awareness and understanding of different challenges if applying Continuous improvement in a PBO, hence a starting point for finding ways to overcome these challenges.

Originality/value

The article contributes to an increased understanding of challenges that PBOs may encounter when applying Continuous improvement, confirming and presenting additional findings compared to previous studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-69659 (URN)10.1108/IJQRM-12-2016-0229 (DOI)2-s2.0-85050088335 (Scopus ID)
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-07-26 (inah)

Available from: 2018-06-19 Created: 2018-06-19 Last updated: 2018-09-30Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E. (2018). Towards systematic improvement work in project-based organizations: An efficiency and effectiveness perspective. (Doctoral dissertation). Luleå: Luleå University of Technology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards systematic improvement work in project-based organizations: An efficiency and effectiveness perspective
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Systematiskt förbättringsarbete i projektbaserade organisationer : Med utgångspunkt I inre och yttre effektivitet
Abstract [en]

Project-based organizations (PBOs) have adopted projects as a primary tool for carrying out most of their operations. By doing so, the PBO operates mainly on two organizational levels, the project level and the organizational level. For these organizations, improving project management (PM) performance is central for the survival of the organization, since PM is considered both a strategic competence and a source of competitive advantage for delivering customer value. For PBOs, prioritizing efficiency has often been described as a short-term focus meeting time and budget targets. The need to shift focus toward value creation in PM is suggested to be of importance to succeed in delivering value to customers. Project performance, and the separate but interlinked concept of project success, can be described using the two concepts of efficiency—doing things right—and effectiveness—doing the right things. However, although commonly used within the field of quality management, the application of these two concepts in the PM literature and practice has proven to be unclear which has implications on organizational improvement.

It is through the two concepts, efficiency and effectiveness, that systematic improvement work in PBOs can be understood. This thesis addresses the need for influences from other research fields, by approaching improvement work in PBOs from a quality management perspective. More specifically, the purpose is to advance our understanding of how PBOs can work systematically toward improvements, from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. This is done by exploring challenges related to improvement work in a PBO operating as a subsidiary to the Swedish minerals group LKAB. In order to do this case study research has been used, including a combination of data collection methods: including semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and document analysis. Case study findings have continually been compared to theory in order to reach conclusions.

The findings indicate that an organizational-level improvement process is missing, and that PBOs need to link such a process to project-level processes, in order to work toward improvements. Applying an efficiency and effectiveness perspective further clarifies the division of practice and responsibility between PBO and the client. Further, it is suggested that the role of the project manager as an improvement agent in PBOs should be formalized and clarified, in order to support learning and organizational-level improvement. Finally, the need to clarify and manage what constitutes value and value creation among stakeholders in projects is emphasized, in order to support both efficiency and effectiveness in project work.

The thesis contributes to the literature by discussing the prerequisites for PBOs to work toward improvements, and by approaching project management from a quality management perspective. From a managerial perspective the thesis emphasizes the importance of clarifying responsibilities regarding project value creation, as current practice seem to promote a separation of responsibility, in which the PBO is responsible for aspects of efficiency, and the customer is responsible for aspects of effectiveness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2018. p. 110
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords
Project Management, Project-based organization, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Improvement
National Category
Business Administration Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-71040 (URN)978-91-7790-216-4 (ISBN)978-91-7790-217-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-11-27, A109, Luleå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-10-01 Created: 2018-09-30 Last updated: 2018-11-21Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E., Backlund, F. & de Bruin, J. (2017). Lean in project-based organizations. In: : . Paper presented at 24th EurOMA conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1-5 July 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lean in project-based organizations
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Literature on the application of Lean in project-based organizations (PBOs) is scarce. This paper presents findings from two case studies of early efforts to implement Lean in subsidiary PBOs. By focusing on Lean principles we provide insight into how PBO operations are, and potentially could be, aligned with Lean thinking. The findings suggest a fit on an overall level, but that principles need to be aligned with PM methods and tools to allow for flexibility.

Keywords
Lean, Project Management, Project-based organizations
National Category
Business Administration Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-70382 (URN)
Conference
24th EurOMA conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1-5 July 2017
Available from: 2018-08-14 Created: 2018-08-14 Last updated: 2019-09-13Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E. (2015). Exploring a project-based organization through the eyes of continuous improvement and learning (ed.). (Licentiate dissertation). Paper presented at . Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring a project-based organization through the eyes of continuous improvement and learning
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The concepts of continuous improvement (CI) and learning are advocated in project management (PM) literature and standards, as suitable concepts to adopt when managing projects. CI can be described as philosophy in which all members of an organization work together to achieve sustained and incremental improvements.Learning can in turn be divided into the learning organization, focusing oncharacteristics that allow an organization to learn, and organizational learning,focusing on how learning is achieved in an organizational context. How big of a part projects play in organizations can differ, from scarce occurrence to being the dominant way of working. Organizations that solely carry out projects can bedescribed as project-based organizations (PBOs). This study explores the concepts of CI and learning in the context of a project-based organization. The reason for doing this is that little information has been found on how CI and learning should be achieved and sustained in a PM context, although being described as important concepts in PM.A longitudinal exploratory case study was performed, at the Projects department at Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB, in order to understand how the concepts of CI and learning could be applied in a PBO. Several data collection methods have been applied in order to achieve triangulation. A qualitative approach was used in order to understand the specific characteristics associated with operating as a PBO, and thus affecting if and how CI and learning could be applied. The research process, whichdescribes the case study in chronological order, and display findings as they emerged, is given a fair amount of room in the thesis, in order to allow the reader to both scrutinize the study, and reach conclusions of her own.The findings indicate that no aspects of operating as a PBO counteract the potential of achieving CI and learning, but that awareness has to be raised regarding the challenges that come with it. CI is described as attractive due to a low-cost approach, and low entry barriers. This description is however based on applying CI in repetitive task environments (e.g. manufacturing industry), not the non-repetitive task environment that characterizes operating as a PBO. If CI is to be achieved in a PBO it is likely that both the PBO and the concept of CI has to be adjusted to one another, to a much greater extent than is described in the CI literature. The current approaches to learning in PBOs seem to be based on a hard approach, trying to capture and disseminate learning throughout the organization. However, this study indicates that this way of working falls short, and suggests that a softer approach might be needed in order to achieve organizational learning in PBOs

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2015
Series
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology and Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-18588 (URN)954beb0c-2137-405f-aaad-ab2a44f82154 (Local ID)978-91-7583-332-3 (ISBN)978-91-7583-333-0 (ISBN)954beb0c-2137-405f-aaad-ab2a44f82154 (Archive number)954beb0c-2137-405f-aaad-ab2a44f82154 (OAI)
Note
Godkänd; 2015; 20150415 (erisun); Nedanstående person kommer att hålla licentiatseminarium för avläggande av teknologie licentiatexamen. Namn: Erik Sundqvist Ämne: Kvalitetsteknik/Quality Technology & Management Uppsats: Exploring a Project-Based Organization Through the Eyes of Continuous Improvement and Learning Examinator: Professor Bjarne Bergquist, Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik och samhälle Avdelning: Industriell Ekonomi, Luleå tekniska universitet Diskutant: Docent Mattias Jacobsson, Handelshögskolan vid Umeå Universitet Tid: Måndag 8 juni 2015 kl 13.00 Plats: A109, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2017-11-24Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E. & Chronéer, D. (2015). Exploring the complexity surrounding barriers of learning. In: : . Paper presented at 23rd Nordic Academy of Management Conference, Copenhagen, 12-14 August 2015.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the complexity surrounding barriers of learning
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Learning is seen as important both within and between projects so that the whole organization can benefits from the lessons learned, and achieve competitive success. Also, projects are seen as suitable organizational units for stimulating learning and creating knowledge. However, organizations have difficulties in dissemination, and applications of lessons learned fail to deliver the intended results. Therefore the purpose of this paper is to explore the complexity surrounding barriers of learning in a project environment, and to present suggestions of how to overcome them in practice. That is, to give examples of means that can support learning in a project environment. Findings are based on a literature review, and findings from a longitudinal case study within a project@based organization. 

We argue, in accordance with Duffield and Whitty (2015) that there is a need of a new paradigm for organizational learning in the project management field that conceptualises and articulates how projects are interlinked and generate value to a higher order learning purpose. Especially in project@based organizations (PBOs) where the main part of business is conducted in project form. This paper aims to explore the complexity surrounding barriers of learning, which exist between different levels of learning in organizations, but also in relation to different approaches to learning, e.g. hard focusing on control and quantitative measurement or soft focusing on social processes and qualitative aspects. 

The tentative results, based on a case study, show that even though learning is brought up on the agenda and discussed as important in the PBO, learning is often marginalized, and treated as a separate activity. Also, results from a literature review reveals that the view of learning can be described from different perspectives and approaches, either scientific/hard with a focus on capturing and storing learning, or social/soft with a focus on disseminating and unleashing learning. The first could be regarded as rigid, while the latter could be seen as vague. We adopt a push/pull analogy of learning in project environments, suggesting the increased need to foster a pull approach, in which a demand for learning is facilitated, and hence supporting value creation.

Keywords
Project management, Learning
National Category
Economics and Business Reliability and Maintenance Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management; Information systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-70380 (URN)
Conference
23rd Nordic Academy of Management Conference, Copenhagen, 12-14 August 2015
Available from: 2018-08-14 Created: 2018-08-14 Last updated: 2019-09-11Bibliographically approved
Backlund, F., Chronéer, D. & Sundqvist, E. (2015). Maturity assessment: towards continuous improvements for project-based organisations? (ed.). International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, 8(2), 256-278
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Maturity assessment: towards continuous improvements for project-based organisations?
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 8, no 2, p. 256-278Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

PurposeThe aim of this study is to contribute to the empirical research on project management maturity assessments, specifically based on a maturity model. Design/methodology/approachThe empirical data is based on a case study including in-depth interviews with a semi-structured approach, followed by a focus group interview. A survey was distributed within a project-based organisation and to client and stakeholder representatives, and then analysed. The organisation in the case study is a project department within a Swedish mining company. FindingsCareful considerations are needed when choosing a project management maturity model (PM3) as the model structure can influence the assessment’s focus. It is also important to include both internal and external project stakeholders in the assessment to achieve an efficiency and effectiveness perspective when analysing PM capabilities. Valid information from an assessment is crucial, therefore, clear communication from management is important in order to motivate the participants in the assessment. Research limitations/implicationsImproved understanding for implementing and applying a PM3 contributes to the increased knowledge of drivers, enablers and obstacles when assessing PM maturity, which also creates a basis for further research initiatives. Practical implicationsAn increased knowledge of drivers, enablers and obstacles should be valuable for practitioners introducing and applying a PM3.Originality/valueThis case study gives an in-depth insight into the implementation of a PM3 within a project-based organisation. Through conducting a literature review, it was found that this type of empirical research is rare

National Category
Reliability and Maintenance Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management; Information systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-10970 (URN)10.1108/IJMPB-05-2014-0047 (DOI)000355671500004 ()2-s2.0-84958537481 (Scopus ID)9de7d88e-0ac2-4a5d-b8c5-237ec3c1e771 (Local ID)9de7d88e-0ac2-4a5d-b8c5-237ec3c1e771 (Archive number)9de7d88e-0ac2-4a5d-b8c5-237ec3c1e771 (OAI)
Note

Validerad; 2015; Nivå 1; 20150302 (andbra)

Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2019-11-22Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E. & Backlund, F. (2014). Continuous improvement in project-based organizations?: A management perspective (ed.). Paper presented at QMOD conference on Quality and Service Sciences : 03/09/2014 - 05/09/2014. Paper presented at QMOD conference on Quality and Service Sciences : 03/09/2014 - 05/09/2014.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuous improvement in project-based organizations?: A management perspective
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology and Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-30904 (URN)4e52b24d-3868-4685-be6f-94eadd8a69c2 (Local ID)4e52b24d-3868-4685-be6f-94eadd8a69c2 (Archive number)4e52b24d-3868-4685-be6f-94eadd8a69c2 (OAI)
Conference
QMOD conference on Quality and Service Sciences : 03/09/2014 - 05/09/2014
Note
Godkänd; 2014; 20141128 (erisun)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2019-11-22Bibliographically approved
Backlund, F., Chroneer, D. & Sundqvist, E. (2014). Project Management Maturity Models – A Critical Review: A Case Study within Swedish Engineering and Construction Organizations (ed.). Paper presented at IPMA World Congress : Finding Balance and Moving Forward 30/09/2013 - 03/10/2013. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 119, 837-846
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Project Management Maturity Models – A Critical Review: A Case Study within Swedish Engineering and Construction Organizations
2014 (English)In: Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, ISSN 1877-0428, E-ISSN 1877-0428, Vol. 119, p. 837-846Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Different kinds of project management maturity models (PM3s) exist today, most of them inspired by the capability maturity model (CMM) developed in the beginning of the 90ies, originally intended to measure capability in software development projects. Research indicates that organizations with higher project management (PM) maturity levels are expected to be successful in terms of project effectiveness and efficiency, and thus have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Though, despite several PM3s developed during a time period of over 20 years, knowledge about how PM3s are a*pplied in organizations is sparse within the PM literature. This paper explores how major engineering and construction companies view PM maturity and PM3s in order to develop and improve their PM practices. These kinds of organizations are mainly project-intensive, objective oriented,and have the capabilities to perform overall business development initiatives, i.e. suitable for applying PM3s.The contribution of PM3s to organizational improvement and development is somewhat unclear. Therefore, a literature review highlights different aspects regarding PM3s, specifically their purpose, strengths, and weaknesses. To what extent PM3s are used, interviews have been conducted with seven respondents within different project intensive organizations, in their roles as project managers or in charge of PM development. How a PM3 can beintroduced and applied is explored via an in-depth case study at the major mining company in Sweden, LKAB. However, tentative results show that the application of PM3s in Swedish engineering and construction organizations are limited, indicating that further research is needed

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management; Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-29519 (URN)10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.094 (DOI)30694d94-1ef6-4cfb-9f33-87fb25d23bc3 (Local ID)30694d94-1ef6-4cfb-9f33-87fb25d23bc3 (Archive number)30694d94-1ef6-4cfb-9f33-87fb25d23bc3 (OAI)
Conference
IPMA World Congress : Finding Balance and Moving Forward 30/09/2013 - 03/10/2013
Note

Godkänd; 2014; 20140407 (andbra); Konferensartikel i tidskrift

Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2018-09-03Bibliographically approved
Sundqvist, E., Backlund, F. & Chronéer, D. (2014). What is Project Efficiency and Effectiveness? (ed.). Paper presented at IPMA World Congress : Finding Balance and Moving Forward 30/09/2013 - 03/10/2013. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 119, 278-287
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is Project Efficiency and Effectiveness?
2014 (English)In: Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, ISSN 1877-0428, E-ISSN 1877-0428, Vol. 119, p. 278-287Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The concepts of efficiency and effectiveness are commonly used when evaluating different processes. As project management can be described by different kinds of processes, the aim with this research is to explore the concepts within project management through the lens of quality management. Since project-based organisations are often struggling with the balance between time, cost and quality, they are interested in doing this as efficient and effective as possible. However, there are a wide variety of views on efficiency and effectiveness among professionals and research scholars, which makes it difficult to apply these concepts in project-based settings.The study is based on a literature review and includes interviews with project office managers from Swedish construction and engineering companies. Findings from the study indicate that the terms efficiency and effectiveness are used without clear definitions, where measurements are executed and results interpreted in various ways. Clarifying the interpretation of project efficiency and effectiveness would help and support project- based organisations in their improvement work. Clarity implies improved preconditions to measure efficiency and effectiveness, and the possibility to develop indicators that can be used to help guide the organization in the desired direction. A clearer view on project efficiency and effectiveness can also be a basis for internal improvements in terms of time, cost and quality, as well as external improvements in terms of customer satisfaction.

National Category
Reliability and Maintenance Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Quality Technology and Management; Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-31291 (URN)10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.032 (DOI)56f479a8-5974-4c81-8a4e-7513bc4fdef6 (Local ID)56f479a8-5974-4c81-8a4e-7513bc4fdef6 (Archive number)56f479a8-5974-4c81-8a4e-7513bc4fdef6 (OAI)
Conference
IPMA World Congress : Finding Balance and Moving Forward 30/09/2013 - 03/10/2013
Note
Godkänd; 2014; 20140407 (andbra); Konferensartikel i tidskriftAvailable from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2019-11-22Bibliographically approved
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