Inderscience Publishers

What project management really is about: alternative perspectives on the role and practice of project management

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Projects play key roles in most modern industries and firms. The management of these economic activities, project management, is continuously developed and today considered to be at the center of competitive advantage. Much classic research on project management has, however, focused on the planning and scheduling activities of project management. Traditional writings within the area even seem to treat project management as a discipline of planning or an application of systems analysis. Much of this work, however, falls short on empirical grounds and has not studied project management practice in any further detail. This paper, on the other hand, takes its starting point in two in-depth case studies and one ethnography of the management of product development projects. Based on these empirical observations, we elaborate on a framework for the analysis of project management work where two perspectives are put at the fore; knowledge perspective and time perspective. From these perspectives, we discuss different roles that project management has in a product development context.

Keywords: project management, project managers, project organisation, knowledge perspective, time perspective, project scheduling, project planning, product development

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