International Journal of Project Management 26 (2008) 38–43 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman
Organisational project management: An historical approach to the study of PMOs Monique Aubry *, Brian Hobbs 1, Denis Thuillier
Received 3 August 2007; accepted 9 August 2007
` ´ ´ ´ Universite du Quebec a Montreal Business School, Department of Management and Technology, Montreal (Quebec), Canada, H3C 3P8
Abstract This paper aims at providing a grounded theoretical foundation on which to base a better understanding of organisational project management. This paper delivers empirical evidence that project management oﬃces (PMOs) and organisational project management can be understood as part of an historical process within an organisational context, departing from the traditional boundaries of positivist project management theory. The history of PMOs in four organisations is documented and analysed. The evolution of the organisations and their PMOs is punctuated with events, tensions and changes. An historical process provides a better basis for the development of a theory on PMOs and more globally on organisational project management. Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. Keywords: PMO; Organisational project management; History; Process approach
1. Introduction Rethinking project management! This paper is aligned with the present vitality found in the movement to rethink the ﬁeld of project management . The project management research literature is opening up to new paradigms departing from the more traditional positivist approach. There are already propositions on the table to build new theories of project management [2,3]. Theorizing project management at the organisational level is also being pursued [4,5]. However, an integrating link at the organisational level that would integrate all parts of project management as a true ﬁeld of organisational management is still missing. We argue that the concept of organisational project management is the missing link . The investigation of PMOs is proposed here as a starting point for the development of a theory of organisational pro* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 514 987 3000x4658; fax: +1 514 987 3343. E-mail addresses: email@example.com (M. Aubry), hobbs.brian @uqam.ca (B. Hobbs), firstname.lastname@example.org (D. Thuillier). 1 Tel.: +1 514 987 3000x3721; fax: +1 514 987 3343. 2 Tel.: +1 514 987 3000x7783; fax: +1 514 987 3343.
ject management. Organisation-wide project management activity can be more readily investigated in organisations with PMOs because project activity tends to be concentrated and more visible in these organisations. The complexity of PMOs has already been documented through the description of the variety in both the forms and the functions of PMOs [7,8]. This paper presents the results of in-depth investigations of organisational project management in four organisations, each of which has undergone successive restructurings. A total of eleven organisational transformations have been analysed. An historical approach is employed in order to capture the richness of the organisational transformations and their underlying processes. 2. Methodology This research is based upon a constructivist epistemology; it represents a major change relative to the more traditional and positivist approach to project management research [9,10]. In this epistemology, the phenomenon is in the reality and the researcher in part of the interaction that takes place between him/her and the object of study. It modiﬁes the more traditional researcher role by ‘‘listen-
0263-7863/$30.00 Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2007.08.009
M. Aubry et al. / International Journal of Project Management 26 (2008) 38–43 Table 1 Proﬁle of respondents Organisation (n = 4) Period studied Number of transformations (n = 11) Number of interviews (n = 49) Role #1 12 years 4 13 3 0 4 2 1...