PMP: The Role of Intuition and Improvisation in Project Management

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The role of intuition and improvisation in project management Stephen Leybourne a, Eugene Sadler-Smith b,*
a Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK b Centre for Management Learning and Development, School of Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK Received 14 October 2005; received in revised form 13 January 2006; accepted 28 March 2006 Abstract

Improvisation consists of a combination of intuition, creativity, and bricolage. Intuitions are rapid, affectively charged, holistic judgements arrived at without the apparent intrusion of rational thought. Improvisation and intuition represent two important and related aspects of management in general and of the management of projects in particular. There have been few, if any, studies that have examined the relationship between intuition and improvisation in the context of the management of projects. In this research we used a model of the relationships between project managers’ intuitive decision making behaviours, their use of improvisation and project outcomes in order to examine whether or not intuition is used in the management of projects, how it relates to improvisation and how intuition and improvisation are linked (if at all) to project outcomes.

The research employed a cross-sectional survey design (N = 163) administered in two waves. Mediated multiple regression analyses revealed a number of statistically significant effects (p < 0.05), namely: (1) there is a positive relationship between the use of intuitive judgements and improvisation; (2) there is a positive relationship between experience and improvisation; (3) there is a positive relationship between the use of intuitive judgements and experience; and (4) the use of intuitive judgements is related to externally focused project outcomes.

These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the following: role of intuitive judgements and improvisation in the management of projects; the...
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