Published Research

Since 1997, PMI has sponsored academic research projects. This knowledge enables stakeholders to make informed decisions and assess industry trends and challenges. It supports professional development, fosters a community that values continuous learning and innovation, and contributes to the overall advancement of knowledge and excellence within industry and the project management profession.

Explore published and ongoing research projects using the links below.

Current Research Projects

Featured Published Research

Current Research Projects

We have a wide range of current PMI research studies covering many key project management topics which may be of interest to you and your organization.  The text below provides more information around each study, who they are led by, what they seek to achieve and how you get involved or contact the research lead for further information.

Ongoing Sponsored Studies

Organization’s role in developing the next generation of project professionals

This research led by the University of Melbourne in collaboration with RMIT University will shed light on how project-based organizations (PBOs) can facilitate the early career work readiness of project professionals particularly around decision making, critical thinking and building confidence.  The research will highlight proven activities and exercises for organizations that can be practically applied across all business sectors. The researchers are looking for project management employers and early career project managers to take part in the research. For more information or if you are interested in participating, please contact Dr. Jessica Borg or Associate Professor Christina Scott-Young

Influence without authority: Understanding how PMs use their Social Capital to transform their ideas into intrapreneurial activities 

Gasemagha and Kowang (2021) argued that PMs' interpersonal skills are the antecedents for the success of organizational projects. This study led by Ariel University (Israel) seeks to understand the level of social capital required to be used by project professionals in order to promote intrapreneurial behaviors (e.g. innovative projects within a firm).  In the study, we hope to discover whether project professionals use social capital differently depending on their activities and the organizations in which they work, and whether gender influences social capital usage patterns. Additionally, we will observe gender differences in social capital use in promoting intrapreneurship.  For more information or to take part please contact Dr. Galit Klein.

Moving towards gender equality in construction project organizations

This study, led by the University of the West of Scotland and Politecnico di Milano, investigates the effectiveness of gender equality interventions applied by Project Based Organizations (PBOs). Despite several years of developing interventions to promote gender equality in PBOs, there are mixed results. The knowledge of “which interventions work and which don't” (and, more importantly, why an intervention is working or not) is mostly anecdotal and scattered among a few papers across different disciplines. The research aims to provide clear guidelines and strategies for PBOs to move toward gender equality. Please contact Dr Sara Hajikazemi and Professor Giorgio Locatelli.

Improving Project Portfolio Management: A Study of Sustainability Integration Barriers and Drivers in Extractive Organizations

By exploring the factors that support or deter sustainability integration in project portfolio management (PPM), this study led by Edith Cowan University (Australia) could assist organizations identifying the root causes of failed attempts at sustainability and establish governance frameworks and policies for integration.  For more information or to get involved please contact Dr. Masoud Aghajani.

Diversity and project performance

The present academic literature is inconclusive about the effects of diversity on project performance.  This research from TU Delft (Netherlands) will identify means to assess the diversity and its origin developing practices and tools to aid at maximizing and harnessing diversity in project performance.  For further details please contact Professor Dr. Hans Bakker.

Influence of gender equality on organizational performance in project organizations: Is employee engagement the key?

The underrepresentation of women within project organizations persists across leadership, management, and non-management positions worldwide. Increasing women’s participation in project industries stands as a potential catalyst for enhancing corporate performance and addressing impending skill shortages. This research aims to provide empirical rationale to strengthen the business case for diversity in project organizations.  It also aims to shed light on the impact that gender equality initiatives and gender diversity have on employee engagement. Improved employee engagement can lead to improved organizational performance. The insights from this research will assist project leaders and HR professionals in justifying the resources required to support gender-based equality and diversity initiatives in their organizations. This research project is led by the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. For more information, please contact Dr. Marzena Baker

How will the new talents change project management in a data-rich era? Examining how the project management profession can thrive (or be threatened)

This research aims to help project management practitioners navigate the opportunities and challenges of the data-rich era in which we live.  It focuses on talent management and on understanding how new talent entering the profession will transform project management by 2030.  The research outcomes will provide tangible actions for attracting, developing and retaining talent in the face of the changing workplace in the data-rich era. This project is led by University College London (UCL) in collaboration with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and Nanjing University. For further details please contact Dr. Eleni Papadonikolaki.

Understanding the nature of project management capabilities in Social Enterprises 

Despite widespread interest in the importance of social enterprises there remains a research gap and a lack of guidance around the application project management of these organizations.  This study will seek to enhance our understanding of project management capabilities within social enterprise organizations and projects and the contribution of project professionals in delivering societal benefit. Please contact Dr Jennifer Jewer for more information.

Ongoing Thesis Research
Digital Twin and Ai-based Project control

This doctoral thesis study aims to enhance the project control process by providing more accurate estimates of the project’s cost and duration by combining a Project Management Digital Twin (PMDT) to collect d and Artificial Intelligence (AI) end-to-end pipeline.  This should provide more accurate, precise and timely information to project professionals and seeks to create an open-source application that can be made available for practitioners to use as an analysis and simulation environment and for developers and researchers to contribute.  For further information contact Filippo Ottaviani.

Navigating complexity to build resilience in international development projects

Poor response to complexity and lack of resilience negatively impacts project performance in the international development project ecosystem, despite funder pressure for increased value for money. Therefore, this study seeks to provide a conceptual and practical framework for the application of resilience building approaches enabling these projects to deal with complexity induced disruptions. For more information, please contact Sanele Nhlabatsi.

Effects of product intangibility and contract choice on project scope change requests

This study aims to extend the understanding of how the product’s characteristics impact the customer’s perception of the cost of rework associated with implementing scope change requests (SCRs) in contractual projects.  It will also examine how the contract type impacts the customer’s propensity for requirements instability.  To take part or find out more contact Shobit Mathur. 

2024

Innovation Champions in Infrastructure Megaprojects in the United Kingdom

By Natalya Sergeeva

Innovation is increasingly recognized as an integral part of major British infrastructure megaprojects—from Heathrow Terminal 5, via the Olympic Park and Crossrail toward Thames Tideway Tunnel and High Speed Two (HS2). The management of innovation in megaprojects is increasingly recognized as an important area for successful delivery and impact on policy making and the economy. Megaprojects tend to launch innovation strategies, which identify, develop, and implement innovative ideas from every corner of organizations. Innovation managers and their teams of champions are responsible for constructing and implementing an innovation strategy and promoting innovation to wider audiences. Innovation leadership is at the heart of project organizing however, innovation agency in temporary organizations is an underexplored area of research. Better understanding of the nature and role of innovation champions and agents, and other related informal roles, and their motivations to innovate, has direct implications for megaproject performance. This report discusses a network of innovation champions within infrastructure megaprojects in the United Kingdom.

Audiences: Project-Based Organizations (PBOs), Policy Makers, Project leaders and Individuals with an interest in innovation and leadership.

 

2023

Improving Anticorruption Codes of Conduct in Project-Based Organizations

By Tristano Sainati, Armando Castro, Giorgio Locatelli, Jacqueline Glass and Giacomo Dei

This report introduces an anticorruption toolkit aimed at project-based organizations (PBOs) to effectively implement and monitor anticorruption measures. Developed through empirical research on the codes of conduct (CoCs) of leading construction companies worldwide and the effectiveness of anticorruption measures. The primary objective of this toolkit is to foster awareness and commitment to anticorruption within organizations. It assists in identifying weaknesses in monitoring, reporting, and enforcing anticorruption measures and provides resources to strengthen these areas. In addition, the toolkit supports organizations in evaluating their existing anticorruption policies, developing new ones, and implementing them effectively. It also offers guidance on detecting and preventing corruption as well as responding to corruption allegations. The toolkit further emphasizes the importance of creating an anticorruption culture and engaging stakeholders in these efforts. Importantly, the toolkit aligns with the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in its principles and terminology.

Audiences: Project-Based Organizations (PBOs), Policy Makers, Individuals with an interest in anti-corruption/ethics/professional conduct and Construction

Additional resources

Webinar: https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/853926/anti-corruption-for-projects--practical-insights-and-solutions-from-the-construction-industry


The Future of Project Work: What Motivates Young Professionals to Pursue a Project Career and What Motivates Them to Persist?

By Martina Huemann and Ruth Christine Lechler

This research project aimed to identify what motivates young project professionals to work in projects drawing on self-determination theory, a theory that focuses on motivation.  This study is based around four large, project-oriented, German-speaking organizations from different industries. The findings show that organizations can motivate young project professionals by providing a transparent career path that enables personal growth and development and demonstrates how projects act as motivators for those young project professionals. Our results also show how projects meet the specific career expectations of young project professionals. We outline a model of young project professional motivation, which is comprised of autonomy, competence, relatedness, and purpose.

Audiences: Young project professionals, Project based organizations and PMI as the world’s leading professional body for the project profession.

Additional resources

Webinar: https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/841254/why-i-like-to-work-on-projects---motivation-of-generation-y

2022

Maximizing Organizational Resilience Under Institutional Complexity in Interorganizational Projects

By Linzhuo Wang, Fangwei Zhu, and Ralf Müller

Contemporary large-scale projects are challenging, with external and internal complexities that create uncertainty. In addition, multiple external stakeholders' perspectives, motivations, and project goals further complicate possible project outcomes. This empirical study uses mix-methods research to uncover how to improve organizational resilience by arguing for the design of governance systems of collaborative relationships. This research adds to the literature by broadening the understanding of resiliency in a dynamic stakeholder environment. Furthermore, this pragmatic approach offers a theoretical framework for the most complex large-scale projects.

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusiveness in the Field of Project Management: Theoretical Relationships and Managerial Tool

By Paul Gardiner, Rami Alkhudary, and Marie Druon

This is a systematic literature review (SLR) to understand the impact of equality, diversity, and inclusiveness (EDI) on performance and creativity in he workplace within project-based organizations (PBOs). The report finds that most EDI research in the literature concerns the construction (37%) and information technology (41%) sectors and uses quantitative methodological techniques (55%). Overall, the findings support the proposition that PBOs can improve team and project performance by increasing equality, promoting diversity, and maintaining a healthy balance of inclusiveness in the workplace.

Practice-Based Study of Project Portfolio Management and Strategic Alignment in the Construction Sector

By Shankar Sankaran, PhD, PMP; Stewart Clegg, PhD, DPhil, DLitt; Catherine Killen, PhD; Jeffrey Scales, PhD; Hedley Smyth, PhD; and Wu Yanga

Although the construction sector is strongly project based and represents a major segment of the global economy (13% of GDP US$10 trillion in 2018 projected o US$14 trillion by 2025), little is known about whether and how PPM can provide benefits in this important sector. We investigated approaches to strategic alignment and PPM through inquiring into project-based practices of organizations in the construction sector. Our aim was to improve understanding of how construction contracting firms manage and align their project portfolio with an overall strategy.

Governance of Interorganizational Project Networks

By Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP

This project suggests a shift in perspective in the study of interorganizational networks from the temporary organization, that is, a project, to a semipermanent network of organizations and their joint projects.

Digitalization as a Game Changer 

By Christof Kier, MSc and Martina Huemann, PhD

This research work aims to discuss contemporary project stakeholder engagement and examines how digitalization shapes and affects the field.


2021

Knowing When to Embrace Ambiguity and When to Fear It

By Anna Wiewiora and Peter O'Connor
This report explores how project managers experience and deal with ambiguous situations in their projects.

Training Manual for Managing Complexities and Ambiguities in Projects

By Anna Wiewiora and Peter O'Connor

This is a practical manual that provides tools, recommendations, and actionable strategies to assist project managers (PMs) in dealing with complexities and ambiguities in their projects.

Extending Project Practices for the Future of the Profession

By Vedran Zerjav, PhD and Efrosyni Konstantinou, PhD
This report addresses the question of how project, program, and portfolio management (P3M) can be utilized and extended to deal with the climate crisis and other grand societal challenges.

Project Management as a Dynamic Collaborative Social Practice—Collaborative Innovation Revisited

By Roula Michaelides and Elena Antonacopoulou
This report presents the findings of a two-and-a-half year research project designed to address a critical priority in project management practice—how to cope with the simultaneity of multiple forms of complexity.

2020

Reinventing Megaproject Delivery Models: The Rise of the Capable Client—The Supply Chain Architect

By Juliano Denicol, PhD
This research improves the understanding of the formation and evolution of megaproject client organizations, illustrating how the emerging temporary organizations design the supply chain architecture and the dynamics of the associated inter-organizational relationships.

Dynamics of New Business Creation
The Contribution of Project Management

By Prof. Dr. Alexander Kock, Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Gemünden, and Carsten Kaufmann
The aim of this research project was to explore how innovative firms create new growth paths, and how project management practices can contribute. In addressing this question, we wanted to use a new unit of analysis: sequences of projects, in which two or more consecutive projects build on one another.

Digital Transformations of Traditional PBOs and Modern PNWs: Changing Management Practices in Project Society (Final Report)

By Timo Braun, Eskil Ekstedt, Rolf A. Lundin, and Jörg Sydow
Digitalization is a phenomenon occurring across sectors and nations, affecting technical processes, organizational forms, and managerial practices. Project management, which is often used as an agent for change, plays a significant role in driving and implementing digital transformation. In today's project society, several distinct forms of project organizing are common. Among them are: (1) project-based organizations (PBOs), which are common in traditional sectors like construction, and (2) project networks (PNWs), the most favorable form of project organizing in modern service and creative industries.

2019

A Systematic Literature Review: The Front End of Projects

by Terry Williams, Hang Vo, Andrew Edkins, and Knut Samset
This report describes the results of a detailed, comprehensive, systematic literature survey on the front end of a project, commissioned by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is the result of a collaborative project conducted by academics from University College London, UK, the University of Hull, UK, and the NUST Concept Research Program based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The Management of Benefits

by Monique Aubry, PhD; Viviane Sergi, PhD; and Sanaa El Boukri, Doctoral Student
Questions pertaining to performance are crucial in any organizational context. Moreover, in the current economic climate marked by instability, performance, in general, has been attracting the attention of a number of scholars. Projects are no exception in this trend and their impact on organizational performance has been of major interest in management research.

Building Project Management Capabilities with Knowledge Networks

by Chivonne Algeo, PhD; Henry Linger, PhD; Katrina Pugh, MS/MBA; and Zaheeruddin Asif, PhD
This final report presents the findings of our research project, led by the Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Chivonne Algeo, and the other investigators, Associate Professor Henry Linger (Monash University) and Katrina Pugh (Columbia University), with invaluable assistance from Dr. Zaheer Asif

Careers@Projects

by Prof. Dr. Martina Huemann; Prof. Dr. Anne Keegan; and Dr. Claudia Ringhofer
Career research highlights a number of important shifts in the last two decades. The most important has been the shift from organization-bounded to boundaryless careers (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). Authors highlight the importance of career patterns involving "moves across the boundaries of separate employers" (p. 6), the idea that everyone has a career, and the importance of subjective perceptions and personal discovery as key career concepts (Ellig & Thatchenkery, 2001). There has also been growing interest in novel career patterns and dynamic and temporal aspects of careers for all employees challenging a focus on organization-bounded aspects of career development for higher level employees in vertically integrated organizations.

Judgment and Decision Making in Managing IT Project Risk

by Professor Mark Keil and Assistant Prof Jong Seok Lee
In this research project, we focused on one of the core issues associated with information technology (IT) project management, namely the tendency to inadequately manage the risks associated with such projects.

Governance of Innovation in Portfolios, Programs, and Projects

by Michael Knapp, PhD; Catherine P. Killen, PhD; Chris Stevens, PhD; and Shankar Sankaran, PhD, PMP
The importance of governance in portfolios, programs, and projects is reflected in part by the development of standards for governance, as well as by the increasing attention being paid to governance in management/academic literature and in practice.

2018

Multilevel Learning in the Project-Based Context

By Anna Wiewiora, Artemis Chang, and Michelle Smidt
Project learning is a vital prerequisite for innovation as it directly contributes to project and organizational capability development. As more organizations become project-based, there is an emergent need to understand how these organizations can overcome challenges of disruptive learning cycles caused by project temporality and employee mobility.

Balancing Person-Centric and Team-Centric Leadership in Projects

By Professor Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP; Professor Nathalie Drouin, PhD; Professor Shankar Sankaran, PhD, MEng, PMP
This white paper explores person-centric and team-centric approaches to leadership in managing projects, and extends current research work on leadership by broadening the scope from person-centric to person-and-team-centric leadership.

Innovative Change and Productive Resistance in Interorganizational Projects

By Alfons van Marrewijk & Leonore van den Ende Vrije (Universiteit Amsterdam Department of Organization Sciences)
This white paper presents research on change and resistance in an interorganizational project (IOP) in the utility sector. Interorganizational change is a multilevel and multi-actor process of which resistance is an integral part.

2017

Ambidexterity through Project Portfolio Management: Resolving Paradoxes in Organizations

By Yacoub Petro, PhD, CEng, PMP
Organizational ambidexterity is the ability of an organization to simultaneously explore the market and the surrounding environment, and exploit one’s own knowledge base and resources to improve performance and drive through sustainability. Due to ambidexterity’s importance in achieving simultaneous capabilities to efficiently manage today’s business challenges and at the same time to have the competency to cope with future business challenges and changes, as well as the role that organizational ambidexterity plays in improving business development, marketing activities, and project delivery, I opted to commission a research project, which was funded by PMI, to understand ambidexterity in greater detail—what drives it and what could influence it.

Agile Approaches on Large Projects in Large Organizations

By Brian Hobbs and Yvan Petit
Agile methods have taken software development by storm, but have been primarily applied to projects in what is referred to as the “agile sweet spot”, which consists of small collocated teams working on small, non-critical, green field, in-house software projects with stable architectures and simple governance rules. The use of agile methods on large projects in large organizations is a relatively new phenomenon for which clear guidance is not available.

MegaProject Organization and Performance: The Myth and Political Reality

By Nuno Gil; Colm Lundrigan; Jeffrey K. Pinto; and Phanish Puranam
This report summarizes the insights of a three-year study on “megaprojects” – the project-based organizations purposely formed to develop capital-intensive, large-scale infrastructure systems. Our aim was to further our understanding of what form of organizing work a megaproject is and investigate the extent to which we could trace empirical regularities in the performance of megaprojects back to their organizational structure. Our central claim is that megaprojects are a meta-organization—a network of legally independent actors collaborating under an identifiable system-level goal. As with any meta-organization, megaprojects are guided by a “systems architect”, a designated leader who steers the organization in pursuit of a higher-order goal. In the case of megaprojects, the systems architect is the project promoter, the actor who had the grand idea and provides leadership. The promoter can be a solo actor, such as a public agency, a government, a private firm, or a coalition of actors.

2016

The Practice of Project Management in Product Development: Insights from the Literature and Cases in High-Tech

By Antonie Jetter
The investigation is focused on a context that organizes all work in projects and has high levels of innovation: product development. The inquiry is focused on small and medium technology companies with manufactured products that manage incremental and highly innovative development projects within the same R&D organization. In these settings, projects fall into three categories (Cooper, 2011): (1) fundamental technology or platform efforts that are not yet focused at a product launch, but spawn multiple future new product projects; (2) maintenance projects for already-launched products, such as extensions, modifications, improvements, and cost reductions; and (3) so-called new product projects. The latter are “major, bold and innovative product developments” (Cooper, 2011, p. 289) aimed at the launch of differentiated products with compelling value propositions. Because of the breadth of projects, the studied R&D organizations provide an ideal setting to study the practice of adapting project management approaches to varying degrees of innovation. The study itself is inductive in nature. After a review of the pertinent literature, this paper presents three consecutive studies that cumulatively lead to the results. Each study informed the questions and analysis of the subsequent study. In total, 17 individuals from 12 different companies were interviewed. Interview results were analyzed by the authors, first for each study and then across studies.

Expert Judgment in Project Management: Narrowing the Theory-Practice Gap

By Paul Szwed
Expert judgment is a major source of information that can provide vital input to project managers, who must ensure that projects are completed successfully, on time, and on budget. Too often, however, companies lack detailed processes for finding and consulting with experts—making it hard to match the required know-how with the project at hand. In Expert Judgment in Project Management: Narrowing the Theory-Practice Gap, Paul S. Szwed provides research that will help project managers become more adept at using expert judgment effectively. The author explores the use of expertise in several sectors, including engineering, environmental management, medicine, political science, and space exploration. He then looks at the informal state of expert judgment and its underutilization in the management of projects. Szwed’s critical recommendations can help project managers improve the way they select, train, and work with experts to increase the odds of any project’s success.

Organizational Enablers for Project Governance

By Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP; Jingting Shao, PhD, MSc; and Sofia Pemsel, PhD, MSc
While corporate culture plays a significant role in the success of any corporation, governance and “governmentality” not only determine how business should be conducted, but also define the policies and procedures organizations follow to achieve business functions and goals. In their book, Organizational Enablers for Project Governance, Ralf Müller, Jingting Shao, and Sofia Pemsel examine the interaction of governance and governmentality in various types of companies and demonstrate how these factors drive business success and influence project work, efficiency, and profitability.

A Typology Framework for Virtual Teams

Based on research by Ann Ledwith, PhD, MBA, Ceng; and Padhraic Ludden Ind. Eng., MPM, PMP
This report aims to contribute to our understanding of virtual teams and project management by surveying the project management population to see if it is possible, using physical and soft attributes of virtual teams (defined from the academic literature), to empirically identify virtual project team typologies. Unlike previous research that has tended to focus on specific aspects or topics of virtual teams, this research provides a broad view of virtual project teams. Additionally, this study was conducted globally, across multiple companies and industry sectors, gathering information from practicing project managers.

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