Deviations and the breakdown of project management principles
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, ISSN 1753-8378, Vol. 2, no 1, 53-69 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of how unexpected events (deviations) are handled and how the limited time available in a project affects the possibilities for reflection and knowledge creation. Since deviations will inevitably occur and they will substantially increase project costs, studies of them are imperative. When only a fraction of the project management literature has focused on the actuality of the project this study gives insights into the practice of project management. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on an exploratory, in-depth case study of a power plant project found in an integrated provider of projects of this type. The projects were followed by participative observations during ten weeks of onsite visits. Findings – The results show that in contrast to contemporary project management theories, the management of deviations was found to be primarily informal. The reason for this was two-fold. First, there was not enough time to use formal procedures. Second, if the formal routines were to be followed, the window of opportunity would be lost, making the decisions that follow useless. Third, two types of reflection were noted: structured collective reflection and contextual reflection, the former corresponding to formal routines and the later to the solution of deviations which is seen as a trigger for spreading practices around the organization. Research limitations/implications – The research presented that projects should be studied from a practice point of view, where deviations might be a good starting point. Moreover, it is suggested that there is a need to broaden the studies of reflection to accommodate other organizational levels and time spans. Practical implications – The case has several suggestions for practitioners. First, small deviations should be paid attention to. Second, bureaucracy hampers flexibility and the organization should rather set up organizational structures, i.e. dual structures, to allow for a smoother process. Third, networks and confidence were found to be essential for the process. Finally, there is a need to pay attention to different time frames when managing deviations. Originality/value – The paper develops a more intricate view of project organizing coming from the new Project-as-Practice agenda. Rather than focusing on what should be done, it focuses on what is done, which is a research area that needs further attention.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited , 2009. Vol. 2, no 1, 53-69 p.
Project systems, Project management, Control systems, Reflection, Materials handling
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-11594DOI: 10.1108/17538370910930518OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-11594DiVA: diva2:151265