Project Management Institute

An empirical investigation of the sponsor's role in project initiation

A project's success is heavily influenced by its executive sponsor's ability to help the project team implement the project, particularly during a project's initiation phase. But despite the sponsor's significant role in supporting a team towards project success, the field has not fully studied the tasks and behavior that defines a project sponsor's performance. This paper examines the behaviors critical to effective executive sponsor performance. In doing so, it describes the current research on sponsor performance, listing the nine most frequently cited characteristics defining a project sponsor; it overviews studies identifying key indicators of project success. It then discusses an empirical study on the executive sponsor's role during project initiation, more specifically, on how project sponsors can help information technology (IT) project teams achieve successful outcomes.
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