Project Management of Unexpected Events

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International Journal of Project Management 26 (2008) 80–86
Project management of unexpected events
Anders So¨derholm
Umea° School of Business, Umea° University, SE-901 87 Umea° , Sweden Abstract
Unexpected events and environmental impact not planned for are common during project implementation. This article explores how unexpected events are dealt with in projects using qualitative case study data from four di erent cases. Results show four di erent approaches to deal with unexpected events: innovative action, applying detachment strategies, setting up intensive meeting schedules and negotiating project conditions are common approaches to deal with the unexpected events. The discussion shed new light on one common situations during project execution – i.e. dealing with unexpected events – that is not normally included in the best practice models of project management.

Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Project management practice; Unexpected events
1. Introduction
On the contrary, project management models fully illumi-
nate the project itself while leaving the environment some-
Project management practices are often, in the text book
what hidden in darkness
version and from the project manager’s viewpoint, con-
However, investigating the relations between project
ceived of as ‘‘executing the plan’’ as e cient as possible execution and the project environment is being an increas-
while avoiding di culties and deviations. As a conse-
ingly more interesting issue for at least three reasons. First, quence, dealing with the project environment is also a part
many projects are organized in networks having several
of the execution assignment and included in the plan. First, partners
thus being dependent on several host organi-
environment is taken care of at scheduled points in time,
zations and somewhat di erent goals. Second, organiza-
for example, at initiation, stage-gate review occasions and
tions are more frequently referred to as being project-
at termination. Such events are part of the project model
based or project dependent
with projects as a vital
used and points in time where the project is open for exter- part of the organizational architecture. These two observa-
nal impact. Second, risk management procedures are in
tions (project networks and organizations being project
place to mitigate consequences of, among other things, out-
based) also indicate that projects are frequently and regu-
side disturbances that may have a negative impact on the
larly organized by a large number of organizations. Envi-
ronment is also becoming a more emphasized topic when
Environmental issues are thus turned into planned
moving from major one-o projects to frequent and regular
events or are being subject for risk assessment. The unpre-
project operations. It is also recognized in traditional PM
dictability and randomness of project environments are
literature that environmental relations need management
kept aside and project management are mostly concerned
attention but as the relation become more complex it is also with internal issues. Consequently, project management
becoming less possible to foresee and less possible to plan. models cannot be accused of being ‘‘black box’’ models. This is also made a topic of research to a greater extent
today than what used to be the case
as well as sug-
gested, in the literature reviews, as a desired topic to inves- *
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0263-7863/$30.00 Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2007.08.016

A. So¨ derholm / International Journal of Project Management 26 (2008) 80–86 81 This paper aims at contributing to the stream of the lit-
stakeholder relations, risk assessment, program and portfo-
erature inquiring...
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