Published here June 2003.

Introduction | Why are First Principles/Theories Needed? 
First Principles vs. Theories | What Subjects Should Theory Cover? 
Interpretation and Reflections | Metaphysical Issues | Overall Conclusions

What Subjects Should Theory of Project Management Cover?

The first principles (FP) in the Wideman paper seem to cover the following:

  • Relationship between Customer and Supplier (FP 1)
  • Assessing success, i.e. performance measurement (FP 2)
  • Characteristics of plans (FP 3)
  • Planning (FP 4)
  • Execution and control (FP 5)
  • Responsibility for sponsor decision-making (FP 6)
  • Organizing for cultural environment (FP 7).

In addition, the paper contains following statements with theoretical dimensions:

  • Decomposability of projects (in Introduction)
  • Assumptions about cultural ambience (under title "First Principles of Project management)
  • Projects needing a margin of surplus
  • Recognition that every project "evolves" through its life cycle
  • Belief that the ultimate goal of a project should be satisfaction with the product on part of the customer

Five of the seven first principles more or less overlap with the theories of project management as defined in our paper. Correspondence with "planning", "execution" and "control" is clear. We cover the relationship between customer and supplier under "execution", but maybe focus more on the task level. Assessing success, through satisfaction, we cover under "project theories". And, we cover organizing for cultural environment under "planning". The remaining two first principles deal with issues of planning and organization of decision-making in the case of re-planning.

Looked at another way, Wideman's first principles do not explicitly cover the theories of project, even if there are implicit statements on this, giving one to understand that

  1. Projects consist of decomposable substance (transformation is the only such decomposable substance we know)
  2. Projects are about satisfying the customer (to us, this is the value-generation view)
  3. Because the world is uncertain, projects need a margin of surplus (this, need for slack capacity or duration, can be explained by the flow view on projects).


Positively enough, there is a considerable degree of unanimity between us regarding the scope of fundamentals or theories of project management. And Wideman's principles pinpoint new areas to be covered by future theories of project management, for example regarding the relation between the sponsor of the project and the project team. However, Wideman's principles should explicitly cover the nature of projects.

First Principles vs. Theories  First Principles vs. Theories

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