Balancing Person-Centric and Team-Centric Leadership in Projects


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May 2018

Professor Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP

BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

Professor Nathalie Drouin, PhD

ESG UQAM and Executive Director of KHEOPS, Canada

Professor Shankar Sankaran, PhD, MEng, PMP

School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney

1. Introduction

We would like to thank the Sponsored Research Program (SRP) of the Project Management Institute (PMI) for sponsoring this research on balancing of person-centric and team-centric leadership in projects. It is only through their generous support for research such as this that we are able to contribute to future developments and directions at PMI. The entire project team thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative and open working relationship in terms of trust, communication, and partnership between the team and the PMI SRP members, and more specifically with Professor Henry Linger, PMI liaison for this research project. Moreover, we are grateful for all the support we received from the participating organizations.

This final report presents the findings that were developed by our international team, led by the principal investigators: Professor Ralf Müller (BI Norwegian Business School), Professor Nathalie Drouin (ESG UQAM and executive director, KHEOPS), and Professor Shankar Sankaran (University of Technology Sydney). Other associate investigators from nine regions of the world also contributed to the study. Hence, we had teams of up to five researchers each in Australia, Canada, China, India, Lithuania, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

Leadership has been explored for years, and leadership studies tend to be based on either the traditional perspective that assumes a person-centered, or vertical leadership, that “stems from an appointed or formal leader of a team,” or a team-centered, horizontal leadership perspective that views leadership as “a group process in which leadership is distributed among, and stems from, team members” (Pearce & Sims, 2002, p. 172). Few studies have explored the combination of both leadership approaches in projects (Müller, Vaagaasar, Nikolova, Sankaran, & Drouin, 2015) or the interaction between vertical and shared leadership (Hsu, Li, & Sun, 2017). The present research does this by introducing the concept of balanced leadership to the world of project management research. It describes a form of leadership characterized by dynamic transition of leadership authority between project managers as vertical leaders and team member(s) as temporary horizontal leaders. Consequently, the study extends current research work on leadership by broadening the scope from person-centric to person-and-team-centric leadership. This new understanding of leadership allows project managers to leverage benefits stemming from having the best possible person leading the project at any point in time during the life of the project.

This final report has sections parts. Each section plays a key role to guide the reader through the journey of understanding and appreciating the work conducted by the researchers. The next section presents the research questions and objectives; Section 3 summarizes the most relevant literature reviewed and describes the conceptual framework developed to carry out this research; Section 4 explains the methods used; Section 5 summarizes the primary results and includes the discussion of the findings; Section 6 presents some practical applications of the findings; and Section 7 explains the conclusions from this research project.

2. Research Questions and Objectives

Recent years have shown a growing diversity of perspectives toward leadership in projects. The traditional person-centered, or vertical leadership approaches (e.g., Turner & Müller, 2006) are increasingly being supplemented by team-centered, horizontal, or shared leadership approaches (e.g., Lindgren & Packendorff, 2009). Within this duality of perspectives, related studies in the context of project management tend to polarize toward one side of the spectrum, rather than integrate the two perspectives into a holistic understanding of leadership in projects. In this research, we address this gap by asking three research questions (RQs).

First, we explore the relationship between the two perspectives across different dimensions. So we ask:

RQ1: What is the relationship and balance between person-centered and team-centered leadership in projects of different type, size, and national culture?

The existing literature indicates a variety of situations where either one of these approaches can be more successful, such as person-centered leadership in emergency situations (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002) and team-centered leadership in change management projects (Pearce & Sims, 2002). Little research is reported on their combined impact on organizational or project success, or the particular balance of leadership approaches in successful projects. Therefore, we ask:

RQ2: What is the individual and combined impact of person-centered and team-centered leadership on projects of different type, size, and national culture?

The conditions for balancing person-centered and team-centered leadership in different contexts is also yet unknown. Hence, we ask:

RQ3: What are the context factors that moderate or mediate the individual or combined impact of person-centered and team-centered leadership on project success?

The objectives of the study are to:

img  Identify the nature and balance of person-centered and team-centered leadership in projects to allow project managers to consciously apply these approaches in leadership situations;

img  Quantify the impact of the two leadership approaches, both individually and combined, on project success, in order to identify the relative importance of leadership for project success; and

img  Provide a framework of “suggested practices" of balanced mixes of person-centered and team-centered leadership in defined situations, thus identifying the contextual variables that make project success conducive for particular combinations of the two leadership approaches.

3. Literature Review and Conceptual Framework

The study is embedded in the currently ongoing discussion of whether leadership in projects predominantly stems from the project manager's personality and style, or if it emerges from the interaction of the team members as the project unfolds. This discourse developed through two streams. The first one is person-centric and addresses the project manager as a leader—for example, in PMI-funded studies such as those by Amason et al. (2007), who showed that transformational leadership style correlates positively with project success, despite the findings by Keegan and Den Hartog (2004) that transactional leadership is the preferred style among project managers. Other PMI studies investigated project manager personality and showed that project managers' emotional intelligence influences their leadership style and correlates strongly with project success (Turner & Müller, 2006). Hence, successful project managers show a strong people orientation, in both leadership style and personality.

The other stream assesses the interaction between team members and the leadership arising from this—thus, team-centered leadership. The work by Packendorff and colleagues (e.g., Crevani, Lindgren, & Packendorff, 2010) on project teams, as well as research in general management, shows that in particular circumstances, such as high complexity and nonurgency of a task, team-centered leadership can have a higher contribution to success than leadership by the formally appointed leader (Cox, Pearce, & Perry, 2003).

At the crossroads of these streams lies project reality—that is, both leadership streams are present in projects and alternate over the course of the project life cycle. Hence, we propose that a project's chances for success are maximized when leadership authority dynamically shifts, at any given time, to the person who is best suited to lead through the issue at hand. We call this balanced leadership, as leadership authority balances between the project manager as vertical (formally appointed) leader, and a team member as horizontal leader.

However, leadership by a team member must be enabled and controlled by the project manager (O'Toole, Galbraith, & Lawler, 2003). When the project manager allows for leadership by a team member, a coordinating mechanism, named the socio-cognitive space, emerges in order to synchronize the work between the project manager and team members through a shared understanding of (1) empowerment: who is empowered to be a leader (Sharma & Kirkman, 2015), (2) self-management: the empowered leader's qualification for the role (Manz, 1986), and (3) shared mental models: team members' particular skill sets and their availability for the project (Johnson, Lee, Khalil, & Huang, 2007). The specific combination of these three elements allows the team and the project manager to identify who is and who can be the best possible leader at any point in time during the project (Müller, Vaagaasar, Nikolova, Sankaran, & Drouin, 2015).

4. Methods

The study was carried out in four steps. A systematic literature review of vertical and horizontal leadership was undertaken to identify categories of situational contingencies of horizontal and vertical leadership. This set the scene for a sequential qualitative and quantitative mixed-methods study (Cameron & Sankaran, 2013). Prior to the qualitative phase of the study, a pilot test was carried out with three cases each in China and Australia to identify the nature, scope, and situational contingency of the balance between person-centric and team-centric leadership in projects. This test helped develop a case study protocol to ensure data compatibility across cases in the subsequent qualitative phase of the study and to ensure the reliability and validity of the case study approach (Yin, 2009).

The underlying philosophical stance adopted for this research was critical realism in the sense of Bhaskar and colleagues (e.g., Archer, Bhaskar, Collier, Lawson, & Norrie, 1998; Bhaskar, 1975). The three levels underlying critical realism (mechanisms, which give rise to events, which give rise to experiences) are especially suitable for mixed-methods studies because they integrate the objectivity of quantitative studies (i.e., mechanisms and events level) with the subjectivity of qualitative studies (i.e., events and experience level).

Nine teams engaged in the study and performed interviews. After 166 interviews across 33 case studies, a theory framework for balanced leadership was developed using Archer's (1995) realist social theory and its morphogenic cycle. This was followed by individual studies for each of the five elements of this framework: nomination; identification; selection; horizontal leadership and governance; and transition.

The studies were carried out in nine different countries (Australia, Canada, China, India, Lithuania, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands) with a total of 249 interviews in 54 case studies. It was carried out in multiple sectors and in organizations of varied sizes, from small (<50 employees) to large (>250 employees). The case study design followed Yin's (2009) multiple case design with replication logic.

Subsequent to these qualitative studies, a model was developed to quantitatively investigate the relationships among vertical leadership, horizontal leadership, socio-cognitive space, and project success. A web-based questionnaire was developed to test, validate, and expand on hypotheses that were developed from the prior studies using a partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) approach (Hair, Hult, Ringle, & Sarstedt, 2014). Snowball sampling elicited 174 responses from around the world. The resulting model showed the impact of horizontal leadership on project success, and how this impact is mediated by elements of the socio-cognitive space.

The results of the qualitative and quantitative studies informed the subsequent theory-building process, which followed Alvesson and Kärreman's (2007) mystery contruction technique. This allowed us to answer the three research questions and achieve the aims set for the study.

5. Results and Discussion of Findings

The analysis of the first 166 interviews allowed us to identify the generic patterns of the process between vertical and horizontal leadership (further on referred to as balanced leadership [BLS]). Five events were identified that constitute the contents of BLS, together with an overall macro-process, which is complemented by microprocesses in each of the five events. This allowed the development of a theoretical framework (see Müller et al., 2018a), which guided further, more detailed studies on each of these events. The following description integrates all these studies. The upper part of Figure 1 shows this framework by outlining the sequence and iterative nature of BLS events, which are nomination, identification, selection, horizontal leadership (HLS) and governance, and transition. The lower part shows the specific tasks executed by the vertical and horizontal leader in each event.


Figure 1: Balanced leadership events and their content

Nomination: The nomination of resources to join the project team is the first event that can occur in the morphogenic cycle. This could happen in multiple ways at different points in time as project members join and leave a project. Depending on the context of the project, project managers may exert their influence on the choice of members to work on a project. In this case, the project manager may be able to identify a horizontal leader early in the project, based on their evaluation of the team member's skills and ability, based on past knowledge of the member. The project manager is thus able to choose members with the potential to be horizontal leaders, which influences the “nomination.” (For more details, see Sankaran, Vaagaasar, & Bekker, In press.)

Identification (of possible horizontal leaders): This is the identification of potential horizontal leaders for existing or anticipated situations in the project. The goal is to match situational requirements with project team members' capabilities to carry out leadership tasks when appropriate. This could happen in three different ways: (1) Team members proactively look for opportunities or situations under which they can fulfill the role of a horizontal leader and indicate this to the project manager; (2) project managers identify team members based on their past performance, personality, and motivation; or (3) project managers establish a relationship and level of trust with each team member as a starting point for identification. Subtle interactions between the project manager and the horizontal leader characterize the event and influence the decision by the project manager to empower a potential horizontal leader (see Müller, Zhu, Sun, Wang, & Yu, 2018).

Selection (of horizontal leaders): Here, the project manager uses empowerment to select one or several team member(s) on a task basis as horizontal leader(s). This takes place through a process of aligning the situation and the candidate's capabilities (which could include reasons such as being a substitute for the project manager or as career development), and scoping the leadership task for the candidate, followed by announcing it to the extent needed (see Yu, Vaagaasar, Müller, Wang, & Zhu, submitted for publication).

Horizontal leadership and its governance: This event starts when the selected team member has accepted the role as horizontal leader and then carries out the role they are designated to lead. The investigation in six case studies showed that vertical leaders retain the right for leadership related to business and political aspects, as well as those decisions that influence the overall scope, time, and cost objectives of the project and the shared understanding thereof. Horizontal leaders are expected to lead in their particular technological domain and the accomplishment of daily tasks, and sometimes to lead specific stakeholder groups, contingent on their particular knowledge of this group (see Drouin, Müller, & Sankaran, In press).

The governance of the horizontal leader by the vertical leader is dependent on context factors, such as the organization's culture, structure, and corporate governance, as well as project-internal factors, such as risks and uncertainties. Moreover, it depends on the vertical leader's perception of the horizontal leader's professionalism, personality, and benevolence. The combination of these factors gives either preference for one of the two popular governance mechanisms (trust or control) or for a situation-dependent balance of both, with the related level of autonomy for the horizontal leader (see Alonderienė, Šimkonis, Pilkienė, Chmieliauskas, & Müller, submitted for publication).

Transition: This is the end of the temporary assignment of the horizontal leader, indicated by either fulfillment of the task or premature termination by the vertical leader. It is the time for reflection and feedback on the task accomplishment by both leaders. In addition, the vertical leader reflects on the appropriateness of the conditions that underlie the identification and selection of the horizontal leader prior to their assignment, and decides whether these conditions should be altered or retained for future repetitions of the cycle. For the horizontal leader, a number of possible outcomes is possible, including a return to the team member role, an extension of the appointment, or the move into a permanent project manager role in another project now or later.

Balanced leadership does not happen automatically. It is contingent on a few enablers. These include that the vertical leader must have a positive attitude toward team members taking a leadership role, and the project management methodology and project culture. The latter is indicated by balanced leadership being preferred in projects using waterfall methods or a mix of traditional and agile approaches (typical for IT and product development projects), whereas large-scale construction projects prefer more vertical leadership, and agile/ scrum projects more horizontal leadership approaches (see Drouin, Vaagaasar, Sankaran, & Müller, submitted for publication)

The coordination between team members (including the horizontal leader) and the project manager as vertical leader is regulated through a so-called socio-cognitive space. This is the shared understanding of three key elements of empowerment (who is currently “in charge” as a leader), self-management (how good the person is in this role), and shared mental models of the team members (which skills are available, through whom, and when). The particular combination of these three elements defines the extent to which horizontal leadership is possible (see Müller et al., 2015).

A quantitative, worldwide study investigated the relative impact that vertical and horizontal leadership and the socio-cognitive space have on project success. The study showed that the three elements of vertical leadership (nomination, identification, selection) explain about 20% of project success. Horizontal leadership alone accounts for about 24%. When combined, they explain about 28% of project success. Hereby, horizontal leadership partially mediates (~53%) the effect of vertical leadership on project success. The cognitive space, in turn, mediates both the vertical leadership to success relationship (~50%) and the horizontal leadership to success relation (~30%). Here, the socio-cognitive element shared mental models mediate both relationships, supported by empowerment for vertical leadership and self-management for horizontal leadership. The two leadership approaches in combination with the socio-cognitive space explain about 42% of project success. Hence, both vertical and horizontal leadership is in direct correlation with success. The joint impact of both is increased through the socio-cognitive space as a coordination mechanism between the two leadership approaches (see Müller, Sankaran, & Drouin, In press).

In summary: When balanced leadership is enabled, a conscious identification process sets in, where team members and project managers engage in identification of suitable skills and situations, which leads to the development and subsequent selection of suitable horizontal leaders when needed. The horizontal leaders lead mainly technical and daily-routine tasks and issues, while the project managers retain leadership authority for business and political tasks. Horizontal leaders are governed by the project manager using trust and control approaches depending on the professionalism, personality, and benevolence of the horizontal leader. When their task is completed, horizontal leaders return to their team role, with an increased chance of becoming project managers themselves in the near future.

6. Practical Application of the Findings

At least five practical applications emerge from the study.

Conscious creation of a socio-cognitive space: Knowing about the socio-cognitive space provides practitioners with the three elements that need to be managed to make balanced leadership work. These are: (1) nonambiguity about who is empowered to lead at any point in time, (2) clarity surrounding the legitimacy of the empowered person (why is the person empowered—for application of skills or for learning new leadership skills?), and (3) understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the team in terms of skills and their availability.

Proactive management through the theory framework: Awareness of practitioners, consultants, and trainers in project management about the cycle and its five events (nomination, identification, selection, horizontal leadership and governance, transition) allows them to prepare possible horizontal leaders purposefully for the benefit of their projects. Examples include the timely identification of needed roles in projects in order for team members to position themselves accordingly and thereby foster their career development, as many horizontal leaders become vertical leaders of other projects thereafter.

Deliberate identification and selection of team members as candidates for horizontal leadership: Successful balanced leadership starts with the nomination of candidates to become project team members. The project manager should purposefully control, or at least have a say in this nomination, in order to identify those candidates who have the best chances of being developed and appointed to horizontal leadership roles, for the benefit of the project.

“Know thyself” for the good of the project and yourself: In today's complex and ever-larger projects, the project manager cannot be the most proficient specialist in all areas, such as technology, business, management, and so on. It is imperative for successful leadership that the project manager knows their strengths and allows horizontal leaders to complement their weaker sides. This maximizes project performance and provides fertile ground for new project managers to develop, without putting project managers at risk.

Awareness of leadership styles, nature of decisions, and scenarios: The study provides insights into how horizontal leaders execute their leadership task in the context of balanced leadership in projects. It reveals that balanced leadership is executed mainly through task-oriented leadership and that the switching of leadership authority is based on trust the vertical leaders have in the horizontal leader and their competences. Vertical leadership is strongly influenced by national and organizational culture. Practitioners in horizontal leadership roles should adjust their leadership approaches to the styles of the project managers governing their leadership task. The study provides evidence that technical, daily-routine, and stakeholder leadership tasks are typically delegated to horizontal leaders, while project scope, business, and strategic leadership remain within the leadership of the project manager.

7. Conclusions

The study showed that balanced leadership exists in projects, and that it manifests itself, contingent upon on a number of factors. The answers to the research questions are as follows:

RQ1: What is the relationship and balance between person-centered and team-centered leadership in projects of different type, size, and national culture?

The deliberate use of a balance of the two leadership approaches is a way to improve efficiency in the management of projects. This is done by appointing the best possible leader at any point in time for the project, independent of the person's formal role as project leader or team member. Team-centered (or horizontal) leadership is enabled by person-centered (or vertical) leadership. This can only happen when the project manager makes it happen. Other contingency factors include project type and size. Large-scale construction projects are dominated by person-centric leadership, whereas agile projects are dominated by team-centered leadership. Balanced leadership is preferred in development projects and/or projects using waterfall or similar methods. Cultural differences were found in the leadership styles of the vertical leaders, when they have delegated tasks to the horizontal leaders. In countries like Canada and Australia, project managers prefer more autocratic and transactional styles, whereas in Scandinavian countries, the democratic and transformational styles dominate.

RQ2: What is the individual and combined impact of person-centered and team-centered leadership on projects of different type, size, and national culture?

Measured independently, person-centered leadership explains about 20% of project success, and team-centered leadership about 24%. In combination, the two leadership approaches explain 28% of success. However, when combined with the socio-cognitive space as coordinating variable, the three variables together explain about 42% of project success. Team-centered leadership reduces the impact of person-centered leadership on success. The socio-cognitive space elements of shared mental models, empowerment, and self-management partly mediate (i.e., control) the relationship between leadership approaches and success. No differences were found by project type, size, and national culture.

RQ3: What are the context factors that moderate or mediate the individual or combined impact of person-centered and team-centered leadership on project success?

Some of them are mentioned above, such as the project manager's attitude toward team-centered leadership; the type, size, and methodology used in projects; and the impact of culture on leadership styles. Moreover, the answer to RQ2 implies that team-centered leadership partly mediates (i.e., controls) the relationship between person-centered leadership and project success, as it reduces the impact of person-centered leadership. However, the impact of both leadership approaches on project success is partly mediated by the socio-cognitive space. This leads to the notion that both leadership approaches can exist solely on their own, but their value is maximized through the socio-cognitive space.

Appendix A: List of References

Alonderienė, R., Šimkonis, S., Pilkienė, M., Chmieliauskas, A., & Müller, R. (submitted for publication). The governance of horizontal leadership in projects.

Alvesson, M., & Kärreman, D. (2007). Constructing mystery: Empirical matters in theory develoment. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1265–1281.

Amason, A. C., Aronson, Z., Dominick, P., Holahan, P., Lechler, T., Mooney, A., Reilly, R. R., & Shenhar, A. J. (2007). The human side of project leadership. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Archer, M. S. (1995). Realist social theory: The morphogenetic approach. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Archer, M. S., Bhaskar, R., Collier, A., Lawson, T., & Norrie, A. (1998). Critical realism: Essential readings. London, England: Routledge.

Bhaskar, R. (1975). A realist theory of science. Leeds, England: Leeds Books Ltd.

Cameron, R., & Sankaran, S. (2013). Mixed methods research design: Well beyond the notion of triangulation. In N. Drouin, R. Müller, & S. Sankaran (Eds.), Novel approaches to project management research: Translational and transformational (pp. 383–401). Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Cox, J. F., Pearce, C. L., & Perry, M. L. (2003). Toward a model of shared leadership and distributed influence in the innovation process: How shared leadership can enhance new product development team dynamics and effectiveness. In C. L. Pearce & J. A. Conger (Eds.), Shared leadership (pp. 48–76). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Crevani, L., Lindgren, M., & Packendorff, J. (2010). Leadership, not leaders: On the study of leadership as practices and interactions. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 26(1), 77–86. Retrieved from

Drouin, N., Müller, R., & Sankaran, S. (In press). Balancing vertical and horizontal leadership in projects: Empirical studies from Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden.

Drouin, N., Vaagaasar, A. L., Sankaran, S., & Müller, R. (submitted for publication). The practical challenge of balancing leadership in projects: The role of empowerment, self-management and shared mental models.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Hair, J. F., Hult, G. T. M., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2014). A primer on partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Hsu, J. S. C., Li, Y., & Sun, H. (2017). Exploring the interaction between vertical and shared leadership in information systems development projects. International Journal of Project Management, 35(8), 1557–1572.

Johnson, T. E., Lee, Y., Khalil, M. K., & Huang, X. (2007). Measuring sharedness of team-related knowledge : Design and validation of a shared mental model instrument. Human Resource Development International, 10(4), 437–454. Retrieved from

Keegan, A., & Den Hartog, D. N. (2004). Transformational leadership in a project-based environment: A comparative study of the leadership styles of project managers and line managers. International Journal of Project Management, 22(8), 609–618.

Lindgren, M., & Packendorff, J. (2009). Project leadership revisited: Towards distributed leadership perspectives in project research. International Journal of Project Organization and Management, 1(3), 285–308.

Manz, C. C. (1986). Self-leadership: Toward an expanded theory of self-influence processes in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 585. Retrieved from

Müller, R., Sankaran, S., & Drouin, N. (In Press). The role of cognitive space in leadership's influence on project succes. In Proceedings of EURAM Conference 2018, 19-22 June 2018, Reykjavik, Iceland,.

Müller, R., Sankaran, S., Drouin, N., Vaagaasar, A., Bekker, M. C., & Jain, K. (2018a). A theory framework for balancing vertical and horizontal leadership in projects. International Journal of Project Management, 36(1), 83–94. Retrieved from

Müller, R., Vaagaasar, A. L., Nikolova, N., Sankaran, S., & Drouin, N. (2015). The socio-cognitive space for linking horizontal and vertical leadership. In Proceedings of the APROS/EGOS Conference 2015, 9–11 December, 2015, Sydney, Australia.

Müller, R., Zhu, F., Sun, X., Wang, L., & Yu, M. (2018). The identification of temporary horizontal leaders in projects: The case of China. International Journal of Project Management, 36(1), 95–107. Retrieved from

O'Toole, J., Galbraith, J., & Lawler, E. E. (2003). The promise and pitfalls of shared leadership: When two (or more) heads are better than one. In C. L. Pearce & J. A. Conger (Eds.), Shared leadership (pp. 250–268). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Pearce, C. L., & Sims, H. P. (2002). Vertical versus shared leadership as predictors of the effectiveness of change management teams: An examination of aversive, directive, transactional, transformational, and empowering leader behaviors. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 6(2), 172–197. Retrieved from

Sankaran,S., Vaagaasar, A. L., & Bekker, M. C. (In press). Nominating project team members with a potential to take on leadership roles in projects. EURAM 2018, Reyjavik, 19–22 June.

Sharma, P. N., & Kirkman, B. L. (2015). Leveraging leaders: A literature review and future lines of inquiry for empowering leadership research. Group & Organization Management, 40(2), 193– 237. Retrieved from

Turner, J. R., & Müller, R. (2006). Choosing appropriate project managers: Matching their leadership style to the type of project. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Yu, M., Vaagaasar, A. L., Müller, R., Wang, L., & Zhu, F. (submitted for publication). Empowerment: The key to horizontal leadership in project teams.

Appendix B: Biographical Sketch of Investigators


Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP, is professor of project management and former associate dean at BI Norwegian Business School, as well as adjunct and visiting professor at many other institutions worldwide. He lectures and researches in leadership, governance, organizational project management, and research methods. These are also the subjects of his more than 200 academic publications. He is editor-in-chief for the Project Management Journal. Among the awards he has received are the 2016 PMI Fellow of the Institute Award, the 2015 PMI Research Achievement Award (a lifetime achievement award), the 2012 IPMA Research Award, and the 2009 Project Management Journal Best Paper of the Year Award. Before joining academia, he spent 30 years in the industry consulting with large enterprises and governments in more than 50 different countries for their project management and governance. He also held related line management positions, such as the worldwide director of project management at NCR Corporation.

Shankar Sankaran, PhD, MEng, PMP, is the professor of organizational project management at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia. Shankar teaches advanced-level courses in a master's of project management program. He is a member of the Built Environment Informatics and Innovation Centre, the Centre for Business and Social Innovation, and the UTS Megaproject team. His current research projects are in project leadership; governance of innovation in portfolios, programs, and projects; and megaprojects. Shankar is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Project Management. Shankar volunteers for PMI as a leader of on-site visit teams for the Global Accreditation Centre (GAC). He is a director of PMI GAC since January 2018. Shankar worked as a project team member, project director, and operations manager on major projects in the Asia Pacific Region, holding leadership positions for more than 15 years in industry before joining academia.

Nathalie Drouin, PhD, MBA, LLB, is the executive director of KHEOPS, an international research consortium on the governance of large infrastructure projects, the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, a full professor in the Department of Management and Technology at the School of Management at Université du Québec at Montreal (ESG UQAM), and adjunct professor at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is a former associate dean of research and a former director of the Project Management Master's Programs Graduate Project Management Programs at ESG UQAM. She teaches project initiation in the Graduate Project Management Programs. The result of her work has been published in major academic journals and presented at several international conferences. She is interested in organizational project management, leadership issues, and infrastructures. She is a member of the PMI Academic Member Advisory Group. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Logistics and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal, and an Audit Committee Member of Parks Canada Agency.



Natalia Nikolova, PhD, is a senior lecturer in management at the University of Technology Sydney Business School. Her research interests focus on organizational practices, strategy, leadership, and innovation in the context of project-based organizations. She has published in academic journals and books and her work has been presented and recognized at several international conferences. Currently, Natalia is undertaking research projects on leadership in projects, temporary organizations, intrapreneurship, and organizational tensions. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Professions and Organization.

Peter Graham has a bachelor's of business with first-class honors from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). He is currently undertaking his doctorate in organization and management studies at UTS. Peter's research interests focus on temporary and project-based organizations. In particular, he is interested how these organizations leverage innovation, leadership archetypes, and roles to develop competitive advantage. Currently, Peter is undertaking transdisciplinary research projects investigating continuity and change in temporary organizations and balanced approaches to project leadership in the construction industry. His research has seen him study projects in a wide range of contexts, from event organizers to military R&D programs.

Xiaohang Xu is a doctoral student in the faculty of design, architecture, and building at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on public-private partnerships (PPPs) governance and how to make innovation happen in PPPs.


Fangwei Zhu, PhD, is a professor in the faculty of management and economics at Dalian University of Technology (DUT), Dalian, China. He is the director of the Institute of Enterprise Management in DUT. His research area is engineering, procurement and construction, project management, and project organization management.

Xiuxia Sun, DBA, is a lecturer of organization and human resource management in the faculty of management and economics at the Dalian University of Technology (DUT), China. She received her doctorate in business administration (project management) from Business Management College/DUT, China. Her current research is devoted to the organizational design and management of project-oriented organizations, especially balancing efficiency and flexibility in project-oriented organizations.

Miao Yu, DBA, obtained her doctorate in business administration at Dalian University of Technology, where she is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the faculty of management and economics. Her research interests concern knowledge management, governance in project contexts, as well as project managers' and project team members' behavior in complex projects.

Mouxuan Sun, MSc, is a doctoral candidate in the faculty of management and economics, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China. His field of research includes leadership in project context and public-private partnership project networks.

Linzhuo Wang, MA, is a doctoral candidate in the faculty of management and economics, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China. His field of research includes leadership, organizational behavior, and project management.


Karuna Jain, PhD, is professor and director of the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai. She is also a professor of technology and operations management at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. She has a doctorate in industrial engineering and management from IIT Kharagpur, followed by postdoctorate fellow from University of Calgary, Canada. For her academic work over 30 years, she has received the Ramaswamy Cup from the Indian Institute of Industrial Engineering, for her outstanding contribution to industrial engineering education and in institute building. She has held positions at academic, professional, and government bodies: MHRD IPR chair professor at IIT Bombay; member of the Sectoral Innovation Council on Intellectual Property Rights under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India; and chairperson of Academic Advisory Group (AAG), PMI India. She is an active member of PMI AAG and a Global Accreditation Center (GAC) director from January 2018.

Upasna A. Agarwal, PhD, is an associate professor in organization behavior and human resource management at the National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE). Her research and teaching areas are talent management and organizational effectiveness, especially focusing on leadership, work engagement, psychological contract, and trust. Upasna has conducted research in for-profit organizations, non-profit organizations, MSME's healthcare organizations, as well as project organizations. Some of her recent publications are in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Personnel Review, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, and Career Development International. Upasna is a recipient of 2010 Award for Excellence in thesis work from IIT Bombay and was recognized as Emerging Psychologist of India by the National Academy of Psychology (NAOP). Recently, Upasna was awarded the AIMS International Outstanding Young Woman Management Researcher Award 2017. She is a member of Academy of Management (AOM), Project Management Institute (PMI), and the Indian Academy of Management (IAOM).

Vijaya Dixit, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi. She has three years of teaching experience at the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai. She completed her fellowship at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. She is a graduate from the Marine Engineering and Research Institute, Kolkata. She worked for two and a half years in the shipbuilding industry. Her research focuses on the improvement of performance of shipbuilding projects, which has resulted in publications in International Journal of Production Research, Computers and Industrial Engineering, International Journal of Production Economics, and two best paper awards in national conferences. In February 2015, she was conferred the Young Research Scholar Award by the Project Management Institute of India.


Raimonda Alonderienė is associate professor at ISM University of Management and Economics (Vilnius, Lithuania). She publishes research papers and cases, of which one was elected for the 10 best cases in the Emerald and CEEMAN Case competition, 2013. Raimonda has improved her competence in the International Management Teachers Academy, Slovenia, United Kingdom, as well as in workshops led by Professors Geert Hofstede, Chris Brewster, Arshad Ahmad, JB Kassarjian, Joe Pons, Jim Ellert, Tony Buono, Paul E. M. Ligthart, Trevor Williamson, and Gareth Morgan. She was invited to teach in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Slovenia. Her research areas are leadership, human resource management and development, informal learning, unlearning, and intergenerational differences.

Alfredas Chmieliauskas, PhD, is the president of ISM University of Management and Economics since 2014, and associate professor at the same university since 1999. Alfredas held several positions in the ISM Senate including chairman (2007–2009). He holds a position as a board member of the Vilnius Academy of Arts, since 2013. Alfredas is first assessor for the National Certification Body approved by the International Project Management Association (IPMA), since 2013. He worked for many years as president of the Lithuanian Project Management Association, 2004–2015. His research interests include strategic program, portfolio, and project management, in both the public and private sectors. He teaches project management, organizational project management, excellence in project management (training courses in a format of more than 250 in-company training programs and open seminars so far); project management (executive master of the management program at ISM since 2001); and international project management (MBA program at ISM).

Margarita Pilkienė is the director of the educational leadership master's program in the executive school at ISM University of Management and Economics (Vilnius, Lithuania). She heads the applied organizational psychology and human resource management modules of the general management program (double degree with BI Norwegian Business School). As a consultant-expert, Margarita runs in-company and open training for non formal executive education. As a research fellow, she participates and runs the research in international projects, as well as publishes in peer-reviewed international journals. Her main research and teaching areas are educational leadership, organizational behavior, and organizational culture.

Saulius Šimkonis, PhD, is a researcher, consultant and trainer with more than 20 years in project, program, and portfolio management. He is a guest lecturer at the Executive School at ISM University of Management and Economics and a program manager at Vilnius University Business School. Saulius is currently a project portfolio manager at Swedbank. He holds IPMA-A, Project Management Professional (PMP)® and PRINCE2 Practitioner credentials. His doctoral research area and topic of interest is lessons learned in projects.


Anne Live Vaagaasar, PhD, is associate professor at BI Norwegian Business School, Department of Leadership and Organization, since 2006. She holds a PhD in project management. She is responsible for the executive programs in project management at BI and teaches and conducts research on a broad range of themes related to project management. Her core topics are learning and competence development in projects; organizing and coordinating in large, complex projects; and time and space issues in projects. She has published a number of articles and books on these subjects.

South Africa:

Michiel Christiaan (Giel) Bekker, PhD, is a registered professional engineer and senior lecturer in project management at the Graduate School of Project Management at the University of Pretoria. He started his career in the petrochemical industry and remains actively involved as a consultant in mining, building, automotive, and infrastructure-related projects. His academic qualifications include a bachelor's and master's in mechanical engineering, MBA, and a PhD in project governance. His research interests include project governance, audits and assurance, methodology development, and the performance of large capital projects. He is an Erasmus Mundus scholar and taught at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Umea University in Sweden. He actively participated in the development of the ISO 21500 - Guidance for Project Management groups of standards. A recipient of the Project Management Excellence Award from Project Management South Africa (PMSA) for Outstanding Performance in the Field of Project Execution, he cofounded the Construction Industry Institute (CII) Africa Chapter and currently serves as its director.

Herman Steyn, PhD, has been full professor, specializing in project management, at the University of Pretoria, since 1996. Prior to joining the university, he held several senior managerial positions and assumed responsibility for several large and small projects, functional divisions, as well as for programs and portfolios of projects. He is currently involved in the supervision of doctoral studies on the following topics: the role of the executive sponsor in megaprojects, project leadership, the knowledge management role of project management offices, and project portfolio management. In 1998, he initiated a master's degree program in project management that has been PMI GAC accredited since 2008. He has been co-authoring the book Project Management for Engineering, Business and Technology, published by Routledge, London, with John M. Nicholas of the Loyola University Chicago, which entered its fifth edition in 2017.

Suzaan Pretorius is a researcher at the Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria. She obtained a master's degree in project management (cum laude) and is currently working toward her PhD. Her master's degree led to three publications, and her recent article on project leadership forms part of her PhD studies. She is currently supervising a number of master's students who chose the leadership track as the topic of their research. After obtaining her PhD degree, she plans to further pursue her academic career.


Johann Packendorff, PhD, is associate professor in industrial economics and management at the School of Industrial Engineering and Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. His research explores issues related to work organization and leadership in project-based organizations. Johann's research has been published in the Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, Scandinavian Journal of Management, International Journal of Project Management, and Project Management Journal. He is a co-organizer of the Making Projects Critical workshop series and a board member of the Swedish Project Academy.

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