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.
For example, Blake suggested a normative
distinction between minor change (alpha) projects and major change (beta) projects,
and Wheelwright and Clark 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
and Steele offered other typologies.
In a recent research effort, Shenhar
and Shenhar and Dvir 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 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
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.
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.