Project Management Institute

Breaking new ground





»Global Reach

375 attendees from 34 countries participated in the last PMI Research Conference.

FOR THE LAST DECADE, the biennial PMI Research Conference has brought thought leaders together to share their findings, debate the latest trends and network with peers from around the world. The 2008 conference, slated for 13-16 July in Warsaw, Poland, looks to be no exception. But this time around, attendees will also see some preliminary results from the highly anticipated study, Researching the Value of Project Management.

Funded by PMI, the global study presents findings from 60 case studies across industries in an effort to help executives and organizations understand project management's worth.

“The point is to present the data in such a way that executives can readily interpret the relevance of the findings to business success,” says Edwin Andrews, Ph.D., PMI's director of academic and educational programs and services. “There have been expectations for three years, so this is very exciting.”


What: PMI Research Conference

When: 13-16 July

Where: Warsaw, Poland

To register, visit:

Can't make it? You can purchase a CD-ROM of conference content after the event.


Conference attendees will also gain insight into some larger shifts in research. Continuing a trend started at the 2006 conference in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, people skills, such as leadership and teamwork, are popular topics.

Conference presentations will cover the following areas:

  • Research methodologies and processes
  • Organizational project management
  • Virtual project management
  • Theoretical foundations
  • People skills and learning
  • Disaster and emergency project management
  • The value of project management
  • Leadership
  • Governance

This year also marks the first time the conference will feature peer-reviewed sessions where students will post their work and explain their findings to attendees. The three top posters will receive $1,000 cash awards. PMI is also offering a 50 percent registration discount for students, whether they have submitted a poster or not. “This is a great opportunity for students to meet senior people and network amongst themselves,” Dr. Andrews says.

» A Fresh Take

The conference includes student poster sessions for the first time.

Additionally, the fourth PMI Research Achievement Award to honor a life of work in project management research will be presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field.

Dr. Andrews says the conference is a powerful reminder that research is the lifeblood of project management.

“Project management evolved from the allied management sciences, such as operations and IT,” he says. “As we've matured, we are giving back to them. Project management really relies heavily on people skills and, as interest in those areas has grown, other management disciplines have begun to look to project management as a model.” PM


With 51 peer-reviewed papers and seven plenary speakers slated for the conference, there's no shortage of content to take in.

Here's a preview of three invited plenary speakers.

»Title: How Myth and Reality May Impact Future Project Management Research

»Author: Dov Dvir, Ph.D., associate professor of management and head of the department of management at the Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel

Dr. Dvir's paper grew from a book he coauthored with Aaron J. Shenhar, Ph.D., called Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth & Innovation [Harvard Business School Press, 2007].

So, what needs reinventing?

Classification, for one thing, says Dr. Dvir. “If you're looking at A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), most of the book refers to all projects in the same way,” he explains. “But software projects are different from construction projects and those are different from a project designed to get people on Mars. What my coauthor and I are suggesting is a new framework to classify projects in order to decide how a specific project should be conducted.”

Dr. Dvir also suggests rethinking the way project success is measured—breaking away from the triangular measurement model of cost, schedule and performance.

»Title: Trends in Research Design, Measurement and Analysis in the Organizational Sciences: The Last Decade

»Author: Herman Aguinis, Ph.D., Mehalchin term professor of management at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA

An often-published author whose research runs the gamut from corporate responsibility to diversity and ethics, Dr. Aguinis reviewed nearly 200 articles to determine what kinds of design, measurement and data-analysis techniques are of interest to organizational science researchers.

His research reveals the most popular quantitative and qualitative topics over the last decade—useful information for researchers who must learn newer methodologies and for practitioners who must understand the methodologies to consult with others.

“Some topics have remained popular, such as the use of surveys,” Dr. Aguinis says. “But new issues also emerged, such as how to analyze data and variables over time. Another was the rise in electronic and web-based methods. The bottom line is there are several innovative methods that have emerged as interesting alternatives in the last decade.”

»Title: Teamwork and Innovation

»Author: Martin Hoegl, Ph.D., professor and chair, leadership and human resource management at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallander, Germany

Dr. Hoegl's paper sets out to dispel some common assumptions about teams.

“We looked at when we need teamwork most—it always has such a positive ring—but in some tasks, you don't need a team working together,” Dr. Hoegl says. “We found that teamwork didn't drive performance except in highly innovative, creative projects. In others, it was nice to have, but not a main driver.”

Another major finding is that even with all of the collaboration technology available, even low degrees of dispersion can negatively impact a team. But, he says, those who are dispersed and manage to succeed have higher returns and outperform average project teams. “The positive side,” he says, “is the potential.”

Dr. Hoegl also will discuss a team's impact on creativity and show how team size impacts performance.

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