Project Management Institute

Toward theoretical foundation of project management

a framework and research agenda

Diplom-ingenieur, European Business school

Diplom-Volkswirtin, European Business School

European Business School


The discipline of project management has undergone significant changes in the past 60 years, from both practitioners’ and researchers’ point of view. The fact that the changes took place in this fashion led to considerable progress in the professionalism of project management. Influences from organizational and management theory also provided valuable insights.

From a practical perspective, a growth in project work is recognizable through different—if not most—industries and industrial sectors. This leads to an increasing importance of project management and project management processes, which are slowly acknowledged as regular business processes creating value (see, e.g., Winch, 2000). The rising significance is also obvious in the number of companies offering project management products and/or services, as well as a multitude of practically and academically oriented conferences on project management topics.

From an academic view, the call for a broader view of project management and an integration of further academic disciplines, such as the social sciences, is getting louder (e.g., Bresnen et al., 2005; Cicmil & Hodgson, 2006; Cicmil et al., 2006; Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2002; Shenhar & Dvir, 2007; Söderlund, 2004b; Winter et al., 2006b). One aim is to better understand and explain why approved and successful measures in project management work in practice. The theoretical foundations underlying these practices also deserve a closer look, as does the question of which further practices can be successful under which circumstances. Even though the body of knowledge established in project management is “rich and helpful” (Shenhar & Dvir, 2007), it still takes on a rather practical view and often does not address the deeper-lying issues and interdependencies.

The project management research framework introduced in this paper pursues several objectives. First, it aims to provide a structuring body for project management research, integrating and consolidating available findings and advances on that topic. The second goal is to incorporate research from different areas of research and facilitate the systematic transfer of insights from other disciplines.

Other research frameworks or research agendas recently published were put under scrutiny, finding that—while being valuable contributions and furthering comprehension, as we will point out in the second section—none of the proposals included all factors and perspectives of the comprehensive view envisioned by the authors of this paper (and introduced in the third and fourth section). During the assessment of this literature, it was observed that in general a comparatively narrow conception of project management was used, often solely focusing on the project itself and thereby especially neglecting the context factors. Furthermore, the single directions or avenues of research previously described were often viewed as mostly independent fields of project management research. This is not consistent with the observation that there exist links, influences and interdependencies between the single areas of project management research as pointed out below.

Overview of Current Literature on Project Management Research

Winter et al. (2006b), in a report about a U.K.-based project management research network called “Rethinking Project Management: Developing a New Research Agenda,” delivered an example on the non-uniform nature of project management research in identifying three research strands during more than 40 years of publications:

  1. “The ‘hard’ systems model,” focusing on planning and control mechanisms in projects originating from the natural sciences, and comprising most of the current methodologies and textbooks. Objections to this kind of view include the missing differentiation between project types, and the neglect of the undoubtedly relevant “human issues.”
  2. The organizational perspective, dealing with the integration of the temporary project organization into the corporate organizational body and the processing of tasks. This strand is strongly influenced by organizational theory and was subsequently extended to include the view on how projects are embedded into wider (corporate) networks.
  3. The “broader view of projects,” integrating exogenous factors and the context in which projects are executed. Further issues regarded are, for example, front-end work and (organizational) learning, which led Winter et al. (2006b) to conclude that this framework “has the advantage of being more holistic while being theoretically catholic.”

Another view on projects mentioned in this paper is the corporate management perspective, dealing with the “strategic” value of projects for the company (e.g., Crawford et al., 2006b; Milosevic and Srivannaboon, 2006; Morris and Jamieson, 2004).

Crawford, Pollack, & England (2006a) carried out a study focusing on project management research from 1994 to 2003. The following topics were identified as relevant: cost, cross-unit outcomes, program management, project evaluation and improvement, relationship management, resource management, risk management, and strategic alignment. The authors also found that the topics Finalization, Scope, and Marketing tend to be neglected in project management research, without being able to tell whether this results from ignorance or insignificance of these subjects.

Shenhar and Dvir (2007) emphasized the absence of “commonly accepted paradigms” in project management, which hinders the further development of this discipline. In addition, they considered the integration of approaches from other fields into project management research a challenge. They described three perspectives on project management with the underlying theories:

  • Strategic/Business View: The Strategic/Business View describes projects as strategic activities supporting or contributing to corporate goals, with single projects or project portfolios being the primary unit of focus. Foundations: strategic management, resource-based view, economics
  • Operational/Process View: The Operational/Process View takes on a process-oriented perspective, regarding projects or sub-projects as a composition of processes executed in order to accomplish single tasks. These in turn contribute to the fulfillment of the overall project task(s) or goal(s). In case of project portfolios, inter-project processes also have to be taken into account. Foundations: process theory, optimization, network theory
  • Team/Leadership View: The Team/Leadership View focuses on human aspects in project management: leadership, motivation toward a common goal and coordination between team members are examples for topics considered. The units of study are (project) teams consisting of individuals often belonging to different organizational and functional units (and thus often holding potential for conflict in itself). Foundations: psychology, behavioral theory, leadership, organization theory

It is also mentioned that, despite the growing importance (and recognition) of project management, articles on this subject are only rarely published in leading management journals.1 This indicates that project management is not yet established among the conventional managerial academic disciplines.

These views from different authors exemplarily show the fragmented nature of present academic efforts, and thus clearly convey the need for an integrated view of project management research. This must include a comprehensive framework incorporating past contributions, but also helping to identify research deficits for further advancing the discipline. The following section describes the proposed research framework.

Project Management Research Framework

Addressing the issues criticized in the introduction, but nevertheless integrating contributions from an extensive literature review—especially the valuable and noteworthy publications briefly outlined above—we developed a project management framework consisting of three major dimensions:

  • Design Dimension
  • Context Dimension
  • Goal Dimension

Those three areas are distinct entities (with respect to their content), but are not independent of each other; in fact, strong influences exist. Each dimension consists of three subcategories, as depicted in

Figure 1 and outlined in more detail below. In the Design Dimension, it is explicitly not differentiated between “the project” and the corporate organization surrounding it. Since both views are seen as strongly interrelated, they cannot be regarded independently. Taking, for example, culture (which is covered below in more detail), it is obvious that project culture depends on corporate culture. The corporate structure will also influence the way a project is organized, as well as the social and leadership processes taking place within the project team.

Project Management Research Framework

Figure 1. Project Management Research Framework

For each subcategory of the three dimensions, a small cross-section of literature is exemplarily reviewed and assigned to the corresponding field in the subsections below. In this first (albeit small) employment, our project management framework provides a sound structure for classifying research publications from this field. This, of course, has to be covered in more detail in subsequent studies.

Design Dimension

The Design Dimension reflects the endogenous factors in project management practice that are caused by influences from corporate and project management guidelines. Considering a time scale, those factors can be manipulated in the short or long term, with the latter being the target for sustainable change. We considered titling this section “Governance Dimension,” since subcategories (d1–3) partially have an effect on a different construct: the aim to describe the interdependencies between actors and different forms of coping with interdependencies in the context of institutions and social subsystems (Benz, Lütz, Schimank, & Simonis, 2007). However, “Design” seemed to better convey the possibility of influencing the fields below, whereas Governance was seen as not fully representing other factors also involved, such as culture.

The Design Dimension is divided into three subcategories:

(d1) Organization/Structure

(d2) Interaction/Social Processes

(d3) Culture

Organization/Structure represents the link between insights from organizational theory and organizational aspects of project management, as well as the surrounding corporate organization. On the one hand, this includes the more “traditional” and practical view of project management. On the other hand, subcategory (d1) also comprises more complex topics like multi-project management, strategic project management, and project management capability of the corporation. Those latter areas are often influenced by theories from the academic field of strategic management, such as the resource-based view (e.g., Jugdev, 2004).

Existing literature from project management research and other disciplines referring to project management often focuses on this first part of the Design Dimension. The practitioners’ references (e.g., Kerzner, 2006; Meredith and Mantel, 2006), bodies of knowledge and methodologies (e.g., Project Management Institute, 2004; Association for Project Management, 2006) mostly fall into this subcategory. Also included is research just touching project management topics, such as literature dealing with the structure of organization in a broader sense (e.g., Galbraith, 1971; Mintzberg, 1979). An interesting advancement was, for example, given by Hyväri (2006), considering the influences of organizational conditions on project success.

Interaction/Social Processes cover the field in which project management research analyzes the relations and interactions of people working in and with projects. This also includes the interactions between projects and between projects and the surrounding organization. This area, which is so far not sufficiently examined from an academic point of view, mainly draws on insights from the common grounds of project management research and sociology. The work on these topics primarily covers such subjects as communication in project teams and change management through projects. Influences on (d2) comprise network theory, psychology, behavioral theory, and research on leadership.

Because this subcategory is drawing from aforementioned disciplines, the fundamental works on those topics play a certain role here, even if little literature is known to specifically relate to project management. On the other hand, from a project management point of view, and integrating the aforementioned issues, first steps are recognizable. For example, Mead (2001) applied social network analysis to project teams. Gillard and Joharisen (2004) examined communication in projects from a systems perspective. Sense (2003a) looked at learning in project teams and—in another contribution—at “project leaders” (Sense, 2003b). Bresnen et al. (2005) approached “projects as complex social settings,” whereas Balkundi and Harrison (2006) combined the network perspective with leadership questions.

Regarding Culture, the last area in the design dimension, one has to distinguish different types in a project management context: the culture within specific project teams (project culture), the culture of the organization surrounding a specific project (corporate culture), and—in case of multi-national projects or corporations—the influences of the encountering national cultures. All three kinds of cultures potentially influence project work, and thus have to be considered in project management research.

Henrie and Sousa-Poza (2005) gave an overview of the literature on all three mentioned types of culture in a project context. For this purpose they reviewed 770 journal articles and 93 books. Three main findings were emphasized: The “knowledge and awareness of culture” and its high significance for project management; the amount of publications on culture-related project management topics, which stays at a constant level; and the amount of empirical studies of project management issues, which remains low. Henrie and Sousa-Poza (2005)—agreeing with the authors of this paper—concluded that “annually published project management literature focuses more on tools, techniques, processes, etc. than culture.”

Based on a survey conducted in Australia questioning 790 project management professionals, Wang (2001) developed a model of project culture consisting of four dimensions: professional commitment, project team integration, work flexibility, and work performance. Kendra and Taplin (2004) developed a “cultural framework to improve organization project performance” based on the results of a study conducted in the information technology (IT) division of a large manufacturing company. They concluded that a common culture fosters the adoption of project management (in IT organizations).

With regard to corporate culture, Morrison, Brown, and Smit (2006) presented the findings of the first phase of a research project investigating the organizational culture with respect to the support for project management. Their literature review resulted in a multi-dimensional framework of organizational culture related to project management, counting no less than 17 (!) dimensions. This clearly demonstrates the complexity of the subject.

The influence of different national cultures on work in project teams was described by Shore and Cross (2005). Using the means of a literature review as well as case study research in two large-scale international science projects, the authors (tentatively) confirmed the importance of national cultures for project work and suggested a framework with (“at least”) the following six dimensions of cultural differences relevant for project work: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, future orientation, performance orientation, and humane treatment.

Context Dimension

The exogenous factors affecting projects and therefore project management denote the Context Dimension. In this case, “exogenous” is understood as external to the project in a conceptual sense. The project environment in this particular case can be depicted as having two levels. The first level comprises entities directly influencing “the project” (e.g., project team composition, project goals). The second level is the embedding of the project in a broader sense: the surrounding organization(s), the economic system, and so forth.

The Context Dimension therefore influences not only the simplicity or difficulty of project tasks, but also project risks. It consists of three subcategories:

(c1) Complexity

(c2) Dynamics

(c3) Uncertainty

Complexity depicts the influence of complexity on projects and the conceptual link to complexity theory, which is a subset of system theory. Contrary to Liu (1999), complexity in a project context, in the view of the authors, does not necessarily equal task complexity, even if Goodman and Goodman (1976) stated that the complexity of a certain task is the reason for creating temporary organizations like projects. Nevertheless, task complexity is but one view of complexity in a project context.

The product or result of a project (as opposed to the aforementioned task creating that result) can itself be complex. An example is the project goal of creating of a “system,” which Shenhar and Dvir (1996)—in a product-related sense—describe as “a complex collection of interactive elements and subsystems within a single product, jointly performing a wide range of independent functions to meet a specific operational mission or need.” A project in itself can also be regarded as a complex social system (see, e.g., Bresnen et al., 2005), directly and indirectly interacting with other complex entities (in a social, organizational, and economic sense).

One approach to coping with project complexity is the use of system dynamics models, such as Lyneis et al. (2001) demonstrated in a strategic project management context. They showed the application of system dynamics to issues as diverse as bidding, risk management, change management, and lessons learned.

Dynamics in the context of this paper is defined as what practitioners call “moving targets.” Project contents, goals, teams, environments, and so forth are modified due to parameters that cannot be directly influenced by the project team. Coping with those factors is a challenge that most current project managers and team members have to deal with. The aforementioned changed conditions (independent from their understanding at the beginning of the project) for instance, could be a new or changing technology, economic situation, or strategy of a key competitor (Frame, 1994, pp. 23–28).

Engwall (2003) listed the contingencies influencing “project interior process dynamics” as follows: parallel courses of events evolving in the content; technical content of the project mission; ideas about the post-project future; institutionalized norms, values, and routines of the context; experiences from the past; and pre-project politics. This demonstrates the complexity of the influences dynamically acting upon a project organization during the course of the project life cycle.

Uncertainty in the economic literature is generally seen as a cause for risks. It is beyond debate that planning is one essential measure in project management—but a plan never can map every possibility likely to occur in real life. Uncertainty and the implied risks influence probably every single project, and thus have to play an important role in any framework for project management research. Uncertainty is closely related to (c1) Complexity, as well as to (c2) Dynamics: Complexity and Dynamics lead to higher uncertainty.

De Meyer, Loch, and Pich (2002) described four types of uncertainty related to project management: variation, foreseen uncertainty, unforeseen uncertainty, and chaos. They also related every one of those categories of uncertainty to the role of the project manager, (project) managing tasks, and (project) management relationships. It is pointed out that managers need to show a high degree of flexibility and should try to find a balance between planning and learning. Pich, Loch, and De Meyer (2002) incorporated this approach while conceptualizing a project as a payoff function depending “on the state of the world and the action sequence chosen.”

Ward and Chapman (2003) criticized the restricted focus on uncertainty in project contexts and argued that equalizing uncertainty with risk neglects one part of the topic: uncertainty can also realize itself in the form of an opportunity. The authors described this as result from the fact that project risk management does not concentrate on the sources of operational variability, and thus retains a limited perspective.

More recently, Atkinson, Crawford, and Ward (2006) also criticized that project management fails to include other sources than “potential events.” As further points to take into account, they listed, for example, “ambiguity,” “tradeoffs between trust and control mechanisms,” and “varying agendas in different stages of the project life cycle,” again emphasizing that not every of those issues poses a risk, and is thus likely overseen in traditional project risk management.


Goal Dimension

In recent times, a shift of focus from projects as a measure to handle non-standard business cases to projects as (possibly standardized) business processes creating value is noticeable (Winter et al., 2006b). The practitioner's view of projects as business processes suggests that there is significant potential in optimizing project management. The literature shows similar indications (e.g., Jugdev, 2004; Shenhar, 2004; Milosevic, Inman, and Ozbay, 2001). This shows that the “iron triangle”—time, budget, scope—and other project management goals such as stakeholder satisfaction, are complemented with other, equally important project goals. Project goals as used in this paper are the possible results of a project (of which not all are applicable for every type of project):

(g1) Innovation Ability

(g2) Organizational Adaptability

(g3) Value Added

The entire Goal Dimension strongly depends on the outcomes of the measures selected in the Design Dimension and the external effects stemming from the Context Dimension. Consequently, this leads to the observation that most papers dealing with topics from the Goal Dimension also include issues from the two other fields.

Innovation Ability is a goal promoted by sustainable project management. On the one hand, it describes the ability of an organization to adapt its products and/or services to changing market conditions and customer desires. On the other hand, it illustrates the development of product/service improvements or new (“innovative”) products or services before customers recognize the need for that special feature or product. Time to market, which has become a frequently used buzzword, is one of the key units of measurements in this area. It has been shown to be a valuable contribution to the competitiveness of an organization (e.g., Wheelwright and Clark, 1992). The management of product development and “innovative” projects are frequent paper topics.

Hoegl and Gemuenden (2001) studied interactions in project teams (“teamwork,” (d2)) and innovation ability (g1) in the sense of successfully managing “innovative projects.” The authors outlined a wide-ranging model called “Teamwork Quality,” describing collaboration in teams. This concept, using the constructs of communication, coordination, balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion, is applied to software development teams in Germany, thus showing a significant correlation between Teamwork Quality and team success.

Van den Ende, Wijnberg, Vogels, and Kerstens (2003) studied innovative projects from an organizational point of view (d1) by taking a look at the relationship “between the organization of innovation and bandwagon and network effects.” They concluded that in an environment characterized by the latter factors, a high degree of team autonomy increases the probability of success. In this approach, the interaction subcategory (d2) is combined with the Innovation Ability perspective.

Steffens, Martinsuo, and Artto (2007) investigated product development projects, taking into account the dynamic context of projects (c2). They specifically focused on change decisions and, using a qualitative approach, came to the result that operational criteria supersede strategic ones in the change management processes of innovation projects. As a result, the development of a more holistic framework for project change management in innovation projects is proposed.

Organizational Adaptability is one of the key goals of project execution. It describes the power of the organization to transform itself, with projects being one measure of choice. Kloppenborg and Opfer (2002) even described project management as “a key strategy to manage change in contemporary organizations.” The reasons for the requirement of organizational change are manifold: a change in business strategy as well as restructuring or mergers and acquisitions—in nearly all cases realized by measures of large-scale organizational projects. Cooke-Davies (2002) stated that the latter three all have implications on the shareholder value of a corporation.

Kenny (2003) regarded projects as a measure to implement strategy in organizations. Different types of projects are examined along the dimension “level of change, and/or innovation,” and a categorization for projects is developed. The author stated that in radical change projects it is necessary to haven open communication structures “to share ideas and solve problems as they arise.”

Meckl (2004) looked at mergers and acquisition projects (M&A projects), which depict a quite drastic change to two organizations. The efficient management of such projects is described as one of the key success factors for a successful union of two corporations, “the structuring of the project, the selection of staff and the assignment of responsibilities” being the main points to attend to.

Value Added is a criterion that applies to all project types (Cooke-Davies, 2002). Even if it is often hard to measure the exact contribution of a project in monetary terms, value added is probably the primary reason to execute a project, regardless of the industry considered. Pinto and Mantel (1990) identified the “perceived value” of a project as one of three measures for project performance, while Rad and Levin (2006), studying the subject from a strategic point of view, described effective project management as an “essential value proposition for organizations that are committed to improving their competitive edge.” Furthermore, Winter et al. (2006b) named “value creation” one of five directions to develop the project management field. Söderlund (2004a) instead described “What is the function of, or value added by, the project management unit?” as one of the crucial questions in project management research. Not regarded in this subcategory is the value of effective and efficient project management as described, for example, by Thomas and Mullaly (2007).

In an early contribution to that topic, Reve (1990) applied the “contract theory of the firm” to the exemplary industry of construction, identifying five value-adding activities: concept, design, project management, construction, and service.

Thiry (2002) criticized the current assessments as purely performance-oriented, proposing an integration of value management in a combined view, “an integrated learning performance programme management model.” In his opinion, project and program reviews should contain a learning loop “in order to achieve strategic benefits and stakeholders’ satisfaction at delivery.”

Leung and Liu (2003) proposed a value management model examining the influences of outcomes from previous projects and (context) dynamics (c2) on the project value. They hypothesized that “value-goal specificity” and “conflict resolution (integration) level” have a direct influence on the contentment of project team members and other participants, which is confirmed by the findings of a questionnaire survey.

Yu, Flett, and Bowers (2005) proposed to measure project success by value. They introduced a project lifecycle model based on a product viewpoint and defined “net project execution cost” and “net product operation value” as the key figures to regard. By comparing those at the milestones defined in the lifecycle model, four types of project results can be distinguished: total success, qualified success, qualified failure, and total failure.

Research Agenda

The challenge of research in project management today, I contend, is to build a broad, multiindustry, theoretically grounded, explanation of what is required to initiate and accomplish projects successfully. Morris (2000)

The project management research framework outlined above points out quite a few areas where project management research has not yet reached a satisfactory level. Even the fields with a higher number of corresponding publications show some potentials. To tap those, it also is utterly important to include research and insights from other disciplines as it is repeatedly called for (e.g., Söderlund, 2004b; Bresnen et al., 2005; Winter et al., 2006b; Winter et al., 2006a).

Nevertheless, it is not the single areas outlined above that need closer study: especially promising are the approaches combining two or more of the subcategories, not necessarily from the same dimensions. Regarding only the combinations of two areas leads to the 9x9 Project Management Research Agenda Matrix depicted in Table 1. Researching those fields could be the first step. In a second wave, a third area could be incorporated into each approach.

Table 1. Project Management Research Agenda Matrix


The gray cells represent the (narrow) approach a lot of traditional project management literature draws upon. The other fields stand for areas where research generally appears to have more potential. Those intersections of two or more of those fields represent particular research problems and deficits. Some possible research questions are illustrated below, the numbers referring to the corresponding entry in

Figure 1.

1.   The so-called “soft topics,” that is, Interaction/Social Processes (d2) and Culture (d3), and their influences on each other (as well as on the further areas not focused on at this point) represent interesting research questions:

•   How does corporate culture influence social processes within a project?

•   Does project culture of—especially large-scale—projects diffuse over project boundaries into the organization and thereby influence the interaction within the corporation?

2.   The influences of Complexity (c1) on the organizational structure of project teams (d1) is another field that is under-researched. Possible problems to examine include:

•   Do high-complexity project tasks require other types of project organizations than low-complexity tasks?

•   Should the project team be structured in different ways depending on the complexity of the project environment?

3.   A third (and concluding) example are the impacts of Interaction/Social Processes (d2) on the Innovation Ability (g1) of project teams:

•   Does the commitment to an informal way of communication and interaction foster the creative output necessary in innovation projects?

•   Does social interaction of project team members beyond the workplace influence the innovative capability of a project team?

Possible methods to employ for a detailed investigation of the research questions mentioned above and the further ones resulting from the Project Management Research Agenda Matrix in Table 1 comprise the full scale of economical and social approaches, such as qualitative expert interviews or case studies, as well as quantitative ways, like surveys and panel studies. This once again demonstrates the need to bridge diverse research disciplines to advance project management research.

The complexity of the research framework outlined above and the exemplary research deficits mentioned show that, even though the first steps are taken in project management research, it still is a long way to a comprehensive “theory of project management.”


The goal of the research framework introduced in this paper is to provide a broader view for project management research while integrating approaches from other disciplines. For the development of the framework, existing literature on that topic was reviewed and acknowledged, but not seen as sufficient. Nevertheless, combining the views expressed in previous papers led to the impressions that a transition from regarding projects as tools for the fulfillment of tasks to dealing with projects as complex social systems based on theoretical considerations—including the application of adequate management concepts—is clearly noticeable

Following this approach, our research framework integrates theoretical foundations from such disciplines as organizational, behavioral and network theory. Yet, our model goes beyond the scope of the existing research frameworks—which were valuable contributions—by taking on a broader perspective and considering three dimensions of project management research and their interdependencies: Design Dimension, Context Dimension, and Goal Dimension.

The Design Dimension reflects the endogenous factors in project management that can be influenced (“designed”) in the short or long term. Within the Design Dimension, three research areas have been identified:

  • Organization/Structure represents the link between insights from organizational theory in the context of project management and organizational aspects of project management.
  • Interaction/Social Processes draw on findings from sociological studies and comprise the work from the intersection of sociology and project management.
  • Culture (corporate/project) is a key factor that may not be neglected in any study taking place in a corporate setting. If the object of research is either a multi-national corporation or a multi-national project, the different national (cultural) backgrounds of participants have to be considered as well.

The Context Dimension resembles exogenous factors that have an impact on projects (and therefore project management as well). Within this dimension, the following three areas play a key role:

  • Complexity, respectively complexity theory as the first area, embodies a subset of system theory, including initial approaches in project management research.
  • Dynamics refers to changes occurring over the course of time, such as in the environment of the project, team staffing, and so forth.
  • Uncertainty relates, for example, to decision theory and takes into account the problem that—at the stage of project planning (and even execution)—not all data influencing the project is available.

The Goal Dimension represents the long-term objectives that ought to be realized by the use of projects beyond mere individual project goals.

  • Innovation Ability comprises the skill to develop new products and services, as well as improve existing ones, and thus rapidly respond to shifting customer demands
  • Organizational Adaptability denotes the ability to perform organizational change in a corporation, which in extreme cases may be necessary due to mergers and acquisition, but which also can be the result of strategic decisions of the management.
  • Value added describes the ultimate goal of probably every project: the creation of value.

Based on the project management framework, a research agenda is developed to serve as a clearly defined structure and to help emphasize the novel research focus. One possibility for such a structure is illustrated in the Project Management Research Agenda Matrix, using the nine subcategories identified above. It is then demonstrated how this matrix can serve for the purpose of identifying deficits in project management research.


Association for Project Management. (2006). APM body of knowledge (5th ed.). Buckinghamshire, U.K.: Association for Project Management.

Atkinson, R., Crawford, L., & Ward, S. (2006). Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope of project management. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 687–698.

Balkundi, P. & Harrison, D. A. (2006). Ties, leaders, and time in teams: Strong inference about network structure's effects on team viability and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 49(1), 49–68.

Benz, A., Lütz, S., Schimank, U., & Simonis, G. (2007). Einleitung. In A. Benz, S. Lütz, U. Schimank, & G. Simonis (Eds.), Handbuch Governance. Theoretische Grundlagen und empirische Anwendungsfelder, pp. 9–25. Wiesbaden, Germany: VS Verlag.

Bresnen, M., Goussevskaia, A., & Swan, J. (2005). Managing projects as complex social settings. Building Research & Information, 33(6), 487–493.

Cicmil, S. & Hodgson, D. (2006). New possibilities for project management theory: A critical engagement. Project Management Journal, 37(3), 111–122.

Cicmil, S., Williams, T., Thomas, J., & Hodgson, D. (2006). Rethinking project management: Researching the actuality of projects. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 675–686.

Cooke-Davies, T. J. (2002). The “real” success factors on projects. International Journal of Project Management, 20(3), 185–190.

Crawford, L., Pollack, J., & England, D. (2006a). Uncovering the trends in project management: Journal emphases over the last 10 years. International Journal of Project Management, 24(2), 175–184.

Crawford, L. H., Hobbs, B., & Turner, J. R. (2006b). Aligning capability with strategy: Categorizing projects to do the right projects and to do them right. Project Management Journal, 37(2), 38–50.

De Meyer, A., Loch, C. H., & Pich, M. T. (2002). Managing project uncertainty: From variation to chaos. MIT Sloan Management Review, 43(2), 60–67.

Engwall, M. (2003). No project is an island: Linking projects to history and context. Research Policy, 32(5), 789–808.

Frame, J. D. (1994). The new project management – Tools for an age of rapid change, corporate reengineering, and other business realities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Galbraith, J. R. (1971). Matrix organizational designs – How to combine functional and project forms. Business Horizons, 14, 29-40.

Gillard, S. & Joharisen, J. (2004). Project management communication: A systems approach. Journal of Information Science, 30(1), 23-29.

Goodman, R. A. & Goodman, L. P. (1976). Some management issues in temporary systems: A study of professional development and manpower–the theater case. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21(3), 494–501.

Henrie, M. & Sousa-Poza, A. (2005). Project management: A cultural literary review. Project Management Journal, 36(2), 5–14.

Hoegl, M. & Gemuenden, H. G. (2001). Teamwork quality and the success of innovative projects: A theoretical concept and empirical evidence. Organization Science, 12(4), 435–449.

Hyväri, I. (2006). Success of projects in different organizational conditions. Project Management Journal, 37(4), 31–41.

Jugdev, K. (2004). Research issues: A conceptual look at project management as a source of competitive advantage. Paper presented at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, Quebec City, Quebec.

Kendra, K. & Taplin, L. J. (2004). Project success: A cultural framework. Project Management Journal, 35(1), 30–45.

Kenny, J. (2003). Effective project management for strategic innovation and change in an organizational context. Project Management Journal, 34(1), 43–53.

Kerzner, H. (2006). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

Kloppenborg, T. J. & Opfer, W. A. (2002). The current state of project management research: Trends, interpretations, and predictions. Project Management Journal, 33(2), 5–18.

Leung, M.-Y. & Liu, A. M. M. (2003). Analysis of value and project goal specificity in value management. Construction Management & Economics, 21(1), 11–19.

Liu, A. M. M. (1999). A research model of project complexity and goal commitment effects on project outcome.

Engineering Construction & Architectural Management (Blackwell Publishing Limited), 6(2), 105–111.

Lyneis, J. M., Cooper, K. G., & Els, S. A. (2001). Strategic management of complex projects: a case study using system dynamics. System Dynamics Review (Wiley), 17(3), 237–260.

Mead, S. P. (2001). Using social network analysis to visualize project teams. Project Management Journal, 32(4), 32–38.

Meckl, R. (2004). Organising and leading M&A projects. International Journal of Project Management, 22(6), 455–462.

Meredith, J. R. & Mantel, Jr., S. J. (2006). Project management: A managerial approach (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.

Milosevic, D. Z., Inman, L., & Ozbay, A. (2001). Impact of project management standardization on project effectiveness. Engineering Management Journal, 13(4), S.9–16.

Milosevic, D. Z. & Srivannaboon, S. (2006). A theoretical framework for aligning project management with business strategy. Project Management Journal, 37(3), S.98–110.

Mintzberg, H. (1979). The Structuring of Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Morris, P. W. G. (2000). Researching the unanswered questions of project management. Proceedings of the PMI Research Conference, Paris.

Morris, P. W. G. & Jamieson, A. (2004). Linking corporate strategy to project strategy via portfolio and program management. In euram Conference Proceedings.

Morrison, J. M., Brown, C. J., & Smit, E. V. D. M. (2006). A supportive organisational culture for project management in matrix organisations: A theoretical perspective. South African Journal of Business Management, 37(4), 39–54.

Pich, M. T., Loch, C. H., & De Meyer, A. (2002). On uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity in project management. Management Science, 48(8), 1008–1023.

Pinto, J. K. & Mantel, Jr., S. J. (1990). The causes of project failure. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 37(4), 269–276.

Project Management Institute. (2004). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (2004 ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Rad, P. F. & Levin, G. (2006). Project management maturity assessment. In 2006 AACE International Transactions. Morgantown, WV: The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering.

Reve, T. (1990). The firm as a nexus of internal and external contracts. In M. Aoki (Ed.), The firm as a nexus of treaties, pp. 133–161. London: Sage.

Söderlund, J. (2004a). Building theories of project management: Past research, questions for the future. International Journal of Project Management, 22(3), 183–191.

Söderlund, J. (2004b). On the broadening scope of the research on projects: A review and a model for analysis. International Journal of Project Management, 22(8), 655–667.

Sense, A. J. (2003a). Learning generators: Project teams re-conceptualized. Project Management Journal, 34(3), 412.

Sense, A. J. (2003b). A model of the politics of project leader learning. International Journal of Project Management, 21(2), 107–114.

Shenhar, A. J. (2004). Strategic project leadership® toward a strategic approach to project management. R&D Management, 34(5), S.569–578.

Shenhar, A. J. & Dvir, D. (1996). Toward a typological theory of project management. Research Policy, 25(4), 607–632.

Shenhar, A. J. & Dvir, D. (2007). Project management research – The challenge and opportunity. Project Management Journal, 38(2), 93–99.

Shore, B. & Cross, B. J. (2005). Exploring the role of national culture in the management of large-scale international science projects. International Journal of Project Management, 23(1), 55–64.

Steffens, W., Martinsuo, M., & Artto, K. (2007). Change decisions in product development projects. International Journal of Project Management, 25(7), 702–713.

Thiry, M. (2002). Combining value and project management into an effective programme management model. International Journal of Project Management, 20(3), 221–227.

Thomas, J. & Mullaly, M. (2007). Understanding the value of project management: First steps on an international investigation in search of value. Project Management Journal, 38(3), 74–89.

Van den Ende, J., Wijnberg, N., Vogels, R., & Kerstens, M. (2003). Organizing innovative projects to interact with market dynamics: A coevolutionary approach. European Management Journal, 21(3), 273–284.

Wang, X. (2001). Dimensions and current status of project management culture. Project Management Journal, 32(4), 4–17.

Ward, S. & Chapman, C. (2003). Transforming project risk management into project uncertainty management. International Journal of Project Management, 21(2), 97–105.

Wheelwright, S. & Clark, K. (1992). Revolutionizing product development. New York: The Free Press.

Winch, G. (2000). The management of projects as a generic business process. In R. A. Lundin & F. Hartman (Eds.), Projects as business constituents and guiding motives. Boston: Kluwer Academic Press.

Winter, M., Andersen, E. S., Elvin, R., & Levene, R. (2006a). Focusing on business projects as an area for future research: An exploratory discussion of four different perspectives. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 699–709.

Winter, M., Smith, C., Morris, P., & Cicmil, S. (2006b). Directions for future research in project management: The main findings of a U.K. government-funded research network. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 638–649.

Yu, A. G., Flett, P. D., & Bowers, J. A. (2005). Developing a value-centred proposal for assessing project success. International Journal of Project Management, 23(6), 428–436.


1 Kloppenborg and Opfer (2002), as cited in Shenhar and Dvir (2007), confirm this statement, showing that in 40 years only 3% of the more than 3,000 project management studies taken into account appeared in major management journals.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2008 Project Management Institute



Related Content