The original version of this paper was presented at the Project Management Institute's 28th Annual Seminar & Symposium, Chicago, Illinois, September 29, 1997. It was subsequently updated and reproduced on this web site in November 2000.

Republished here April 2023.

Introduction | We are Not Alone | What Basis? | Models | Concept Mapping
PMKS Theme | Objectives | Assumptions | Exclusion | Starting Point | Conclusions
Appendix A | Appendix B


This discourse was originally aired back in November 2000. Its purpose was to seek a structured arrangement that would provide the basis for a more systematic discussion of project management issues. It saw the possibility of project management practice becoming a serious professional discipline. That was over 20 years ago.

Today, we can look back and ask ourselves how well have we done in attempting these lofty goals?

This article makes no attempt at answering this question — it leaves it to individual readers to decide. However, that original paper of November 2000 is repeated here to help readers answer that question for themselves. In fact it provided a Simple Concept Map, a (new) Project Goal, a set of Objectives for Structuring a Project Management Knowledge Structure, Assumptions, and a containment border (Criteria for Exclusion). In the paper the author expressed the hope that it would "engender considerable discussion and progress on the vital issues of scope, storage and efficient retrieval of project management knowledge."

So, the issue now is: was that achieved? Or have we gone off on a different track? Here is the article again for readers to decide for themselves.


This paper is a "discussion" paper rather than a "solution" paper and describes the possibilities for a structured arrangement of the elements of a body of knowledge for project management. The purpose of such a structured arrangement would be to provide the basis for a more systematic discussion of project management issues. Such issues include the impact on project management practice as a professional discipline in various parts of the world and on different types of project by virtue of the diversity of their cultural norms and values.

Clearly, any proposed knowledge structure must be responsive to the working realities of project management practitioners. So, to capture the types of issues involved, and to do it in an organized way, we needed a checklist as a reference baseline. This checklist must not only cover "theoretical or generic" project management but also the various practical areas of project management application (APMA).

Only then can a systematic development be conducted and assembled into a logical grouping of elements. These elements of knowledge will initially be represented by a list of discrete project management terms which can then be assembled into a proposed structure. We will refer to this as a "Project Management Knowledge Structure" (PMKS), and the terms it contains we can refer to as Project Management Knowledge Descriptors (PMKDs).


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