Where do Project Managers Rank in the Pecking Order?
One of the hypotheses tested in this research was the idea that a Profession is not a black or white, yes or no situation, but one of relativity. To test this theory, three constructs were developed, each one designed to produce an interval scale, and if possible, to create a true ratio scale. To start with, the study included some 21 occupational specialties normally and customarily licensed by the top one-third of OECD countries. The focus was on those countries ranked by Transparency International as being "clean". The reason for this selection is that, in the developing nations, licensing is often used as a means of extracting "economic rents" (a form of legalized extortion in exchange for restraint of trade).
The three survey questions asked respondents to:
- Rank order the 21 licensed occupations from 1, (most professional) to 21 (least professional)
- Compare the 21 licensed occupations against a known zero point: A fresh university graduate with no experience; and
- Make a pair-wise comparison between 9 of the 21 occupations
The purpose of using the pair-wise comparisons was to transform the data in such a way that would eliminate the tendency of respondents to favor their own occupation above those of other occupations. Applying Thurstone's Law of Comparative Judgment to the pair-wise comparison data produced a result that eliminated this bias. Figure 7 shows the results of the three questions compared side by side, and the consistency is readily obvious.
Figure 7: Project Management "Pecking Order" Compared
Taking the data from all three questions, and adjusting them based on the data from the pair-wise comparisons by applying Thurstone's Law as note, we can see ± 400 respondents were consistent in ranking project management higher than electricians, software engineers and telecom engineers, but lower than an MBA or registered professional civil engineer. So taken in context, while project management has evidently some status, at least amongst project managers, it clearly has a way to go before any claim to being a profession can be seriously entertained.
The importance of this research is that having established a benchmark, future surveys can be conducted that should show if project management is getting more or less recognized as a profession over time.
4. Thurstone's Law of Comparative Judgment- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_comparative_judgment