Published here May 2013.

PART 1 | Search for Basic Project Management Research
Project and Management Dissected | Another Perspective
Technology Management versus Project Management 
A Particularly Helpful Reference | A Useful Postscript | Summary


In support of the need for the suggested research above, we recently came across this statement:[30]

"As we saw it, one explanation for why Dominant Project Management does not work especially well on most Construction Projects is that the underlying Ideology is intentionally designed for mass appeal: to work for 'most projects most of the time,' (2) across any number of disparate Project Types and different industries. These generalities of principle and recommended practices render Dominant Project Management, as a coherent system, far too non-specific to support the intense operational demands of the typical construction project."

Note: "Dominant Project Management" refers to the classic views expressed by established project management associations.

If what the author says is true, and we believe it to apply to many areas of project management application, then this confirms our view that we need to do work to make "Dominant Project Management" much less "non-specific" to projects in most domains. Indeed, we might even end up with a pared down PMBOK Guide that is of actual practical use.

To this end, perhaps:

  1. The editor of PMI's PMJ (or any other institution for that matter) could put out a call for a PMJ research paper that would take a closer look at the fundamentals of "project" and "project management". This would be with a view to proposing a generic or universal theory, or theories, that would be distinctive and useful, that conjoins the two, and from which we may deduce one or more guiding principles for the better management of projects.
  2. Similarly, perhaps the PMJ editor would invite a research paper that would examine and support (or refute) the distinction between the "Project management processes" (in our view, the managing of the project) and the "product-oriented processes" (in our view, the managing of the technology) as described in the PMBOK Guide, Fifth Edition, 2013, p47. And if supported, then map the practical boundary between the two in some typical projects as the two streams march forward in lockstep.

Simple, or simplistic, as these two suggestions may sound, we believe that the results would go a long way towards responding to the opening thoughts in the Hodgson and Cicmil book, namely:

  1. Is there a universal explanation of what projects are and how projects evolve?
  2. What is the meaning behind the concepts in use, that is, the terms such as "project", "project management" and "project success"?
  3. What are the implications of the "mainstream" definitions of "project" and "project management" for the nature of knowledge and the intellectual foundations of studies of project-based organising, work and management?

Indeed, we believe that these are essential and long overdue steps towards solidifying a common basis for a sound project management discipline, and the improvement of project performance generally. At least this would be valuable for the majority of small to medium sized projects that would not then be confounded by the sometimes excessive and unnecessary complexity of institutionalized "standard" approaches.

R. Max Wideman,

A Useful Postscript  A Useful Postscript

30. Woolf, Murray B., CPM Mechanics: The Critical Path Method of Modeling Project Execution Strategy, ICS-Publications,, accessed 8/26/12, p4

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