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An Exploratory study of Interproject learning mechanisms and Project competencies of Consultancy firms in Sweden; perceptions of project management practitioners
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Increased globalization has come with it increased competition, multitude of international competitors, dramatic and frequent changes in customer tastes, shorter product life cycles, and frequent and rapid technological/product upgrading. Resultant competitive pressures have led to the emergence of two trends among some firms and industries. Firstly, there is an increased premium placed on the role of continuous learning and knowledge accumulation as the most dependable base for sustainable competitive advantage in today’s dynamic global markets. Secondly, there is increased trend towards organizing more economic activities as distinct projects. The above two trends provides both opportunities and challenges for any firms, especially project-based firms (PBFs). A number of past researches have emphasized the importance of investment in interproject learning as a means to foster continuous upgrading of project competencies. This is equally applicable to more knowledge intensive project-based firms in the Consultancy services sector. However, no study had been done in Sweden on Consultancy firms, from the perspective that they are project-based firms.

This study explores, describes and analyzes the various characteristics of interproject learning mechanisms and project competencies found in a sample of consulting firms in Sweden. The study focuses on the perceived importance of different interproject learning mechanisms and their perceived impact in developing project competencies in consulting firms. The study interrogates the ‘perceptions’ of ‘key’ informed project management practitioners, who have experience of managing consulting projects. Their perceptions about project activities in their respective firms helped capture a ‘managerial’ view, as well as, provide ‘expert’ opinion.

The study find that the most highly ranked and valued interproject learning mechanisms involved some degree of face-to-face interactions. Learning mechanisms that enable the capture, storage and transfer of explicit knowledge, though important, were not ranked highly in importance as person-to-person communication. The difference might be due to the efficient way the latter mechanisms have in transferring socially embedded and context-dependant tacit knowledge, which comprise a large part of knowledge applied in projects. Most of the respondents seem to indicate that their respective firms emphasized development of project competencies that were underpinned by ‘product knowledge’, which emphasize capabilities to deliver short-term project goals (i.e., delivering a particular service/product on a certain date). Respective firms didn’t seem to invest more in project competencies that are underpinned by ‘process knowledge’. The latter is aimed at long-term continuous improvement of project processes, which in turn has impact on developing dynamic competitive advantage. With regard to organizational learning infrastructure needed to support interproject learning and the development of project competencies, the results from the survey provides a mixed picture. While some firms had put in place a series of well implemented organizational structures, procedures, processes and routines to support interproject learning, some other learning supporting infrastructure were not that well implemented (i.e., explicit scheduling of time to do ‘reflections’ during project execution, emerging of a ‘no blame’ culture, instilling a culture of experimentations). Based on our research findings, a number of recommendations are outlined.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet , 2009. , 67 p.
Keyword [en]
Interproject learning mechanisms, project competencies, project-based firms, Knowledge transfer, Consultancy sector
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5734OAI: diva2:145350
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2009-02-03 Created: 2009-02-03 Last updated: 2010-03-16Bibliographically approved

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