Purpose – This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the informal and incidental learning that takes place in project work among individuals who must adapt to deviations from project plans.
Design/methodology/approach – Reflections in the study are built on four power plant projects found in an integrated provider of projects of this type. The projects were followed by participative observations during ten weeks of onsite visits. Furthermore, 26 interviews were done among participants in the organisation on working practices and implications. Data included interviews, reports, minutes-of-meetings, observations, and e-mail correspondence that characterised the cases.
Findings – The paper finds that learning occurred at two levels. First, there was the learning that occurred as each of the deviations was handled. The second aspect of learning involved the patterns in which remedies were handled.
Research limitations/implications – Because research was built on case studies, one has the reservations common with that approach. Nevertheless, the learning architecture that Sense related to intra-project learning has features that relate to the situation where learning has occurred from projects. Further, by associating observations with the background provided by Lindblom and Simon, suggestions carry inherent credibility.
Practical implications – The organisation that was set up seemed particularly effective in handling the deviations. Also, intuition came into play. Both these items may interest consultants and trainers as well as academics.
Originality/value – Although the need to handle project deviations is appreciated in practice, it is not clear that there is an understanding of how response occurs. The paper documents response across the stages of projects, which is original. Value is associated with the interpretation.
2007. Vol. 19, no 2, 92-107 p.