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The Role of Project Managers as Improvement Agents In Project-Based Organizations
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering.
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. Vol. 50, no 3, p. 376-390
Keywords [en]
Project-based organization, Improvement, Project manager, Role, Behavior, Long-term
National Category
Business Administration Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology & Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-71038DOI: 10.1177/8756972819832784ISI: 000469387700010Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85064268230OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-71038DiVA, id: diva2:1252112
Note

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

Available from: 2018-09-30 Created: 2018-09-30 Last updated: 2019-06-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards systematic improvement work in project-based organizations: An efficiency and effectiveness perspective
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

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