Project Management and Sustainable Development Principles

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Sustainable Development has become a buzzword, with everyone from CEO's to legislators calling for the adoption of its principles. And while there are many terms for it — "Corporate Social Responsibility", "Corporate Sustainability", "Corporate Citizenship", fundamental questions remain.

Is Sustainable Development just a PR exercise for organizations trying to demonstrate a commitment to something other than a financial bottom line, or can it bring real lasting value? And if it is of value, how can Sustainable Development, which is fundamentally focused on the long-term, bring value to projects, which are by definition, temporary?

In 2010, an interdisciplinary team of project management and sustainability practitioners and researchers from the University of Vienna, supported by a research grant from Project Management Institute, set out to answer these questions. Before their multi-year journey was through, they would find themselves working around the world: debriefing project teams at Siemens and OMV Petrom Wind Farms in Brazil and Romania, working alongside executives planning to build a hospital in Austria and collaborating with researchers and practitioners at academic conferences in Europe and the United States.

Their conclusion: Sustainable Development is a new management paradigm, one whose principles can be operationalized and used to improve how practitioners of all levels manage the complexity and dynamics of organizations, projects and programs.

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