Research Summaries

Benefit from abstracts and articles that transfer valuable information from academic research into brief and concise formats for busy project, program, and portfolio managers. Be on the leading edge of theory and practice. Challenge your thinking and that of your organization.

Featured Research Summaries


Extending Project Practices for the Future of the Profession in the Face of Climate Change and Other Grand Challenges

Based on research by Drs. Vedran Zerjav and Efrosyni Konstantinou

This research had two main goals: 1) to deepen the understanding of P3M’s role and relevance in implementing the climate change goals agenda and 2) to explore, better understand, and prioritize the challenges that climate change poses for the scholarship, discipline, and practices of P3M.


How Tolerance of Ambiguity Impacts Project Management: Developing the Ability to Manage Uncertainty

Based on research by Anna Wiewiora and Peter O’Connor

In today’s fast-paced and often fungible workplace, ambiguity is the new normal. Tolerance of Ambiguity (TOA), or the tendency to perceive ambiguous situations as desirable, is now therefore recognized as a highly desirable trait for project managers (PMs). When PMs see uncertainty as an opportunity rather than a threat, they are more likely to utilize creativity and make better decisions.

Transformation in Progress: Examining the Impact of Digital Information on Project Delivery

Based on research by Jennifer Whyte
From computers to mobile phones, computing technology connects project managers to information and real-time updates 24/7. This study articulates, for the first time, the transformative power of pervasive digital information on project delivery models.

Taking Agile to Scale: Lessons from a Multiteam Development Program

Based on research by Torgeir Dingsøyr, Nils Brede Moe, Eva Amdahl Seim
Agile development approaches embrace change by moving decision authority to the team level, making the team responsible for rough long-term plans and detailed short-term plans. This study explores the evolving impact of agile practices on large-scale software development programs with an emphasis on multiteam coordination.


Becoming Boundaryless: The Changing Career Landscape for Project Managers

Based on research by Prof. Dr. Martina Huemann, Prof. Dr. Anne Keegan, and Dr. Claudia Ringhofer
These days, fewer employees are maintaining linear careers within one organization. Due to globalization and advancements in technology, the opportunities for career development are much more diverse across organizations and sectors. Therefore, professionals’ careers are increasingly mobile and dynamic—including those of project managers.


The Nature of Risk in Complex Projects

Based on research by Terry Williams
Risk analysis for complex projects presents difficulties. Looking simply at the risks does not reveal the causal chains responsible for management actions, the motivations of project actors, the socio-political project complexities and intra-connectedness feedback. Common practice based upon decomposition-type methods is often shown to point to the wrong risks. The paper presents a complexity structure for identifying this “systemicity” and drawing lessons about key risks. It also shows how to analyze the systemic nature of risk, and how using risk maps can help the contractor and client understand the ramifications of their actions.


Exploring the Role of Project Management in the Development of the Academic Agile Software Discourse

Based on research by Thomas G. Lechler and Siwen Yang
This article explores and reveals the role of Project Management research in the Agile discourse. The researchers analyzed 827 articles identifying central topics over two time periods (2001-2007 and 2008-2014). The results reveal the evolution of the academic Agile discussion over time.

Influence of Communication on Client Satisfaction in Information System Projects

Based on research by Phil Diegmann, Dirk Basten and Oleg Pankratz
Traditionally, the success or failure of information system (IS) projects is measured by observing the adherence to budget and schedule as well as conformance with requirements. This article highlights the role of client-vendor communication (CVC) as a success factor in relation to project performance and client satisfaction in IS projects. The research shows that process and product performance positively influence the confirmation of expectations, and CVC wields an important influence on client satisfaction.


Organizational Enablers for Project Governance

Based on research by Ralf Müller, Jongting Shao and Sophia Pemsel
Interest in the governance of projects has grown rapidly in recent years. This research presents evidence on best practices and enablers for project governance, governance for groups of projects, and governance mentality, including how these practices and enablers evolve over time. The outcomes of the research provide practical knowledge for practitioners dealing with the intricacies of project and portfolio governance.

Rethink! Project Stakeholder Management

Based on research by Martina Huemann, Pernille Eskerod, and Claudia Ringhofer
Many projects fail because stakeholders’ expectations and interests are not sufficiently steered and managed. This research analyzes stakeholder management from two perspectives: In a “management of stakeholders” approach, a project needs stakeholder contributions to fulfill its purpose. In contrast, the “management for stakeholders” approach is based on the understanding that all stakeholders are valuable regardless of their help or harm potential. Research results show that a combination of both approaches ensures greater flexibility regarding project stakeholder management.

Project Innovation: Evidence-Informed, Open, Effectual, and Subjective

Based on research by Anne Sigismund Huff
This research presents new theoretical bases for innovative project management in complex and uncertain environments. It claims that knowledge bases drawn from the past can impede innovation in highly uncertain situations and theories from entrepreneurship provide potentially more viable approaches. Although theories in this area challenge the causal assumptions that support theory and practice in project management, the article outlines four entrepreneurial models for project management that may be useful in intrinsically uncertain settings.

Breakthrough R&D Stakeholders: The Challenges of Legitimacy in Highly Uncertain Projects

Based on research by Sophie Hooge and Cédric Dalmasso
This research explains the management of internal stakeholders in the context of breakthrough1 R&D projects. The results, based on a longitudinal study of a global car manufacturer over a period of six years, highlights the importance of stakeholders in the roles of technological experts, innovation design strategists, and internal collaboration strategists. These stakeholders play a major part in involving the individuals needed for the project’s progress. Moreover, the research shows that perception of their legitimacy by other actors constitutes a fundamental success factor.

A Typology Framework for Virtual Teams

Based on research by Padhraic Ludden and Ann Ledwith
This research investigates the existence of patterns of virtual project teams and their impact. It identifies team typologies and their relationships, as well as the impact that identified types of teams have on the performance of virtual project teams.

The Practice of Project Management in Product Development

Based on research by Antoinette Jetter and Fatima Albar
This research investigates (1) how existing project management frameworks complement product development practice; (2) how product development projects are managed with standard vs. project-adapted management practices; and, (3) what challenges arise in the context of project adaption. Distinct streams of literature on product innovation, organizational ambidexterity1 and project management are reviewed. The research is based on small and medium technology companies that manage incremental and highly innovative product development projects within the same R&D organization. It identifies company-specific and project-specific adaptations of standard new product development and project management practices.

The Metaphysical Questions Every Project Practitioner Should Ask

Based on research by Lavagnon A. Ika and Christophe N. Bredillet
This article contends that project practitioners become so familiar with the word “project” that they think about it more in terms of how they use it than in terms of what it really is. This article seeks to contribute a subtler understanding of project management practice and hopes to inspire project practitioners to understand how their metaphysical stance influences their project management style. In particular, a thing-based stance leads to a planned project management style, and a process-based stance leads to an emergent management style. Both styles can be combined.

Expertise Coordination in Information Systems Development Problems

Based on research by Jack S. Hsu, Yu Wen Hung,  Sheng-Pao Shih, and Hsu, Hul-Mel
This article tackles the problem of coordination in information systems development (ISD) projects. The increasing growth in the number and complexity of ISD projects mandates a deeper look into the coordination of the variety of expertise involved in such projects. Three different forms of coordination have been used in the past: willingness, ability, and behavior. The research has found that willingness and ability are antecedents of coordination behavior and that coordination behavior fully mediates different forms of project success.

Stakeholder Dynamics During the Project Front-End: The Case of Nuclear Waste Repository Projects

Based on research by Kirsi Aaltonen, Jaakko Kujala and Laura Havela
This study examines stakeholder dynamics during the project front-end stage using two case studies related to nuclear waste repository projects in Finland and the US. The study explains how stakeholder dynamics are influenced by the interaction of stakeholders’ behaviors, stakeholder management activities, and the project’s contextual conditions. The research proposes a new conceptual framework called the “stakeholder salience-position matrix” that has practical benefits.