Project Management Institute

Root metaphors for the management of projects

toward a knowledge-based view

In traditional project management, knowledge integration assumes upfront plans as explicit knowledge. For complex projects that cannot be fully specified in advance; however, knowledge integration requires emergent learning in situated contexts (Lindkvist), which involves explicit knowledge (know-that) and experiential knowledge (know-how). To expand the knowledge boundaries of traditional project management, the root-metaphor perspectives of American philosopher Stephen Pepper (1942) are interpreted as a project management framework, focusing on Mechanism for traditional project management and Contextualism for situated approaches. Using this root-metaphor framework, explicit knowledge and experiential knowledge are mutually complementary when projects are viewed as modes of organizing and learning for temporary undertakings, which encompasses process and task. The implications for research and practice include using the framework for situated research, where Contextualism has greater explanatory power, and for the management of project diversity — traditional, complex, portfolio, and program projects.
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