Project Management Institute

Labeling Projects as Innovative

A Social Identity Theory

The notion of 'innovative projects' is popular and often taken for granted. This article challenges this taken for granted concept and attempts to provide detailed insights into what constitutes an 'innovative project.' Specifically, the article focuses on three main questions: (1) What kinds of projects are considered innovative? (2) How do projects become recognized as innovative and by whom? And (3) Why are projects recognized as innovative? This research follows the 'linguistic turn' occurring in project management studies, showing that social identity theory is a useful and insightful way of understanding discursively constructed labels chosen by practitioners to identify projects as innovative. Labeling projects as innovative has implications for practice as playing an important strategic role in bolstering the reputations of organizations and attracting customers; such labels are often used meaningfully, but also purposefully in project-based organizations.
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