Aaron J. Shenhar, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA, and R. Max Wideman.

A paper presented to the PICMET'97 conference "Innovation in Technology Management: The Key to Global Leadership", Portland, Oregon, USA, July 1997 (Updated for web 2002). Presented here as the third in a series linking project type through management style to project success.

Published here February 2002.

Abstract | Introduction | Purpose | Background
Product | Work | Matrix | Style | Conclusion


Historically, projects are differentiated according to the industry to which they belong, e.g. construction, various types of services, resource industries, manufacturing, and so on. Each tends to be seen as different, if only because each develops its own industry terminology and communication across industries becomes difficult and misleading. On other occasions projects are differentiated by size or by organizational structure or by the functional relationships involved.

Several project typologies have been suggested to address the differences among projects. Traditionally, such typologies were based on the classical distinction between radical and incremental innovation[1]. For example, Blake[2] suggested a normative distinction between minor change (alpha) projects and major change (beta) projects, and Wheelwright and Clark[3] have mapped projects according to the degree of change they introduce within the company═s product portfolio. Their typology includes derivative, platform, breakthrough, and Research & Development Projects. Pearson[4] and Steele[5] offered other typologies.

In a recent research effort, Shenhar[6] and Shenhar and Dvir[7] have proposed a matrix consisting of four project categories based on levels of Technological Uncertainty, set against three levels of Project Management Scope based on level of project management complexity. This arrangement is briefly summarized in a 1996 Shenhar and Wideman paper[8] and is illustrated in Figure 1. This matrix is invaluable in alerting management to the relative risks of different levels of technology in the project and the intensity of project management required.

Looking further, however, one needs to break the project into different work packages to identify specific styles of work on different project components.

Figure 1: Proposed Project Typology
Figure 1: Proposed Project Typology
Purpose of Paper  Purpose of Paper

1. Zaltman, G. D, R. L. Duncan, and J. Holbek, Innovations and Organizations, John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, 1973.
2. Blake, S. B., Managing for Responsive Research and Development. Freeman and Co. San Francisco, CA, 1978.
3. Wheelwright S. C., and K. B. Clark, Revolutionizing Product Development. The Free Press, New York, NY, 1992.
4. Pearson A. W., Innovation Strategy, Technovation 10, 3, pp. 185-192, 1990.
5. Steele, L. W., Innovation in Big Businesses, Elsevier Publishing Co. New York, NY, 1975.
6. Shenhar, A. J., From Low- to High-tech Project Management, R&D Management 23, 3, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp. 199-214, 1993.
7. Shenhar, A. J., & Dov Dvir, Toward a Typology Theory of Project Management, Research Policy, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1996.
8. Shenhar, A. J., & R. M. Wideman, Project Management: From Genesis to Content to Classification, paper presented at Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), Washington, DC, May 1996.
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