Part I (on History and Foundations) starts with a chapter on PM history written by Peter Morris, a true veteran in the field. Even though
the initial sentence of the chapter is “Project management is a social
construct”, its emphasis is on the instrumental and normative aspects
of PM, covering a time period from the dawn of civilization to the first
decade of the current century. Neighboring areas like supply chain
and concurrent engineering are also alluded to towards the end, giving the impression that the author thinks of the traditional development
as path-dependent. As a possible consequence of this, the section on
“academic research” covers only half a page.
The second chapter is written by another of the editors, Jonas Söderlund, who represents another type of contributions to the field. That
chapter is about theoretical foundations and is subtitled “Suggestions
for a pluralistic understanding”. That pluralism is evident not only in the
story about the seven “schools of PM research” that Söderlund named
in a previous publication, but also in a multitude of other dimensions.
The focus is still on the project as an entity. Interestingly enough, the
final part is labeled “fragmentation with progress”, nurturing the idea
that it is becoming increasingly difficult to grasp the entire development
of the research field.
The third chapter contains an analysis of what has appeared in the three
established journals in the field (all three are connected to an association ; the three authors, Turner, Pinto and Bredillet cover one journal
each, and they also happen to be editors of those three journals : International Journal of Project Management, Project Management Journal and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management). The years
1987, 1997 and 2007 were covered when issues were available. The
data consist of three dimensions that have been followed consistently,
namely : topics, methodologies and citation patterns. The main finding
is that diversity has been increasing over the years in several ways. The
contents of the journals have not changed dramatically, however.
The final chapter in part I covers professionalism in PM. It is written
by Hodgson and Muzio and examines the professional ambitions of
project managers by comparing them with various other expert groups.
One interesting thing with PM is that the ambitions and the accreditation to be accepted as a certified project manager have an international
component supporting the notion that the field is generic in nature and
that it is not necessarily culturally dependent qualifications that count.
Part II, which is about industry and context, starts out with a chapter
on Project Business – a concept nurtured and fostered mainly by a
group of researchers predominantly from Finland (the principal author
is Artto). The logic is that project business covers four cases emanating from a number of projects (one or several) and a number of firms
(one or several), which leaves us with a chart of four fields. In that way,
management concerns in the project area are contextualized and this
provides different frameworks for research.
The next chapter (by Bresnen and Marshall) is about partnerships and
projects. An institutional theory approach has been applied to emergent practices within the construction industry in the UK. The industry
is well known for its traditionally adversarial approach between the parties involved, but there is now a shift towards partnering. This leads to
tensions and contradictory behaviors and emerging practices, similar
to the way in which coopetition in the marketing area leads to emergent
The seventh chapter contains a contextual view of temporary organizations. Grabher and Ibert discuss project ecologies as a conceptual
framework for project-based learning. They look at the team level, the
firm level, the epistemic collective and personal networks in relation
to cumulative and disruptive learning. These two ways of learning are
driven by opposing logics when it comes to creating and storing knowledge.
Part III (on strategy and decision-making) sets out with a chapter about
the P-form corporation (P = project-based), contrasting it with the M-form. The main focus of the chapter (written by Söderlund and Tell) is
on challenges facing the P-form. The main challenges described are
(not unexpectedly) on decomposition, temporary decentralization, time
orientation and reintegration ; in other words, they are in line with the
demands that a project inclination puts on the corporation housing the
Chapter 9 has been written by Loch and Kavadias on “Implementing
Strategy through Projects” and is relatively long. In the chapter an alternative view of PM is put forward in relation to strategy – either strategy
shaping or execution. The approach used is very similar to a traditional
PM model from the first wave, but the chapter also contains empirical
The chapter on “Program Management” takes another step away
from examining a particular project and towards dealing with a group
of projects. Three authors (with Pellegrinelli as principal author) argue
the case for program management research and publication since
programs are actually in place when projects are being run. In particular, the authors point to research opportunities related to organization
theory, organizational change, strategic management, leadership and
“Projects and Innovation” is the title of chapter 11, and the similar sub-title, “Innovation and Projects”, indicates that the authors, Brady and
Hobday feel that those two words are of signal importance. The authors describe five generations of innovation models and discuss the
links between them and project work. This is used as a background
for innovation in Complex Product Systems (CoPS). CoPS industries
are ones in which customers’ needs cannot be specified in advance.
These kinds of systems constitute an under-researched area according to the authors. Merely viewing them as temporary organizations is
Part IV (entitled Governance and Control) includes chapter 12, in which
Mueller writes on project governance. The chapter begins by covering
general governance issues, since the view of the authors is that project
governance is a subset of a more general governance theme. Thus,
the chapter starts out with general concerns based on transaction-cost economics and agency theory. The limitations of governance are
also discussed before the focus is put on project governance. The text
touches upon issues like PM offices and portfolio management and
concludes with a research agenda for the future.
Chapter 13, by Flyvberg is about major (or mega) projects. The title
chosen submits the major contents of the chapter : “Over Budget, Over
Time, Over and Over Again”. Thus, the chapter treats underperformance and its causes. The author points to optimism bias and to politics, which are factors at work when projects are to be approved, and
this paves the way for future disappointments. Towards the end of the
chapter some of the pessimism apparent in the title is dissipated by
referring to improved incentive schemes, accountability via competition
and market control.
The classical issues of managing risks and uncertainty on projects are
alluded to in chapter 14, by Winch and Maytorena. The authors give an
overview of risk research covering several classics and primarily cognitive approaches to risk. They do settle for a subjectivist position on
risk as compared to an objectivist or pseudo-objectivist one. The final
contention is that “projects are fundamentally about states of mind”.
They – the projects - come true with the help of faith.
In chapter 15, Whyte and Levitt scrutinize “Information Management
and the Management of Projects”. The authors pursue the idea that
information management has been underused historically in PM. The
development in the dynamic industries of today means that the necessary connections to information-management activities are growing or
should grow. When it comes to routine project work, information management definitely has a role and that is also true for the informal mechanisms and the need for real-time interaction. There is a new mode of
information management on projects !
Part V, labeled “Contracting and Relationships”, begins with a chapter
by Cova and Salle entitled “Shaping Projects, Building Networks”. The
main contents of the chapter center on “external” project marketing and
the front-end definition stage of a project. From this perspective, project-shaping via network building is important since projects are born
out of social processes.
“Innovating the Practice of Normative Control in Project Management
Contractual Relations” is the lengthy title of chapter 17, by Clegg and
two co-authors (Bjoerkeng and Pitsis). The thesis of the chapter is that
relations rather than formal contracts are important. That contention is
supported by an Australian case study of an alliance where unanimity
is practiced. That kind of scheme makes decisions very powerful once
they are made. The argument is also that this helps innovation since
innovation is in need of variation and variation is unlikely to occur if a
traditional design-and-construct contract is used.
A seemingly similar theme is raised by Gil, Pinto and Smyth in chapter
18, which bears the title “Trust in Relational Contracting and as a Critical Organizational Attribute”. The chapter builds empirically on the T5
project (involving the design and construction of Terminal 5 at London’s
Heathrow Airport) and the British Airports Authority. The case demonstrates that it is not an easy task to design a relational contract (even
though transaction costs might be saved) and that such a contract is
not conflict-free. It also illustrates the perceived difference between
confidence creation and trust creation.
The final part (VI) on “Organizing and Learning” begins with a chapter
by Lindkvist : “Knowledge Integration in Product Development Projects”.
There are essentially two ways of achieving knowledge integration, either by similarity (or the thoughts of community of practice) within the
group or by complementarity, where “who knows what” is open and
available information. A contingency approach is applied using a four-field table, with degree of novelty along one axis (conceived as exploitation or exploration) and type of complexity (analyzable and systemic)
along the other. The field is discussed via two case studies, one about
telecommunications and the other about pharmaceuticals.
Chapter 20, by Hoegl, Muethel and Gemuenden is about leadership
and teamwork in dispersed projects. There is definitely a need for virtual project teams when specialized knowledge is involved. The chapter is primarily about leadership in diverse teams, and also points to
the need for team members to be able to act as an additional source of
leadership. Shared leadership is in fact promoted in the chapter.
“Projects-as-Practice” is the title of the last chapter in the book, authored by Hällgren and Söderholm. The projects-as-practice approach
centers on what is done in projects in terms of actions and actors. It
is therefore very descriptive, and applies the notion that it is more important to study things as they are done than to spend all available
energy on how they should be done. The way to understand practice is
described in a power plant case. The chapter ends with a discussion of
the various merits offered by the approach.