Managing the institutional context for projects

Project management is widely seen as delivering undertakings on time, on budget, and on scope. This conceptualization fails, however, to address the front end and its management. Addressing the front end moves the discipline to a second, strategic level. This article proposes a third level of conceptualization: the institutional level, where management is focused on creating the conditions to support and foster projects, both in its parent organization and its external environment. Management here is done for and on the project rather than in or to it. The authors show that management at this level offers an enlarged research agenda and improvement in performance and explore examples of how institutional issues shape the project management domains. They have suggested a number of research issues and opportunities at this level. Leadership at Level 3 has a particularly strong role in steering the interaction between a context that shapes management and a management that shapes context. The authors suggest the need for other senior leaders within the organization to recognize and have experience in project management in order to understand its complexities and be in a better position to develop a context for projects.
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