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Uncovering Trends in PM

Uncovering Trends in PM

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Uncovering the trends in project management: Journal emphases
over the last 10 years
Lynn Crawford, Julien Pollack*, David England
Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, Building 6, level 5, University of Technology, Sydney, 702 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007, Australia
Received 12 November 2004; received in revised form 12 July 2005; accepted 14 October 2005
Abstract

The \ufb01eld of project management continues to develop in response to changing emphases in the management community and the demands of new project management application areas. This paper uncovers the trends of emphasis within the project management lit- erature over the period 1994\u20132003, by analysing articles in theInternational Journal of Project Management and theProject Management

Journal. Trends identi\ufb01ed in this study are then compared to trends of emphasis identi\ufb01ed in a variety of previous studies of changes to
the \ufb01eld. These results are then synthesised to provide a overall impression of how the \ufb01eld is changing.
\u00d32005 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords:Research trends; Text analysis
1. Introduction

Project management, as a profession and area of research, continues to grow and develop. In response to project management being applied in new industries, coun- tries and application areas, the demands on project man- agement continue to change. These changes alter the way project management is perceived, the commonly accepted views of what it is to practice project management, and the way the \ufb01eld is represented in the literature.

A variety of previous studies have already examined changes to the \ufb01eld, using many di\ufb00erent approaches, \ufb01nd- ing diverse and sometimes contradictory results. This study reconciles these di\ufb00erent results and adds new \ufb01ndings, examining the changing development of the \ufb01eld, as repre- sented by keywords identi\ufb01ed in the last 10 years of the

International Journal of Project Management(IJPM) and

theProject Management Journal (PMJ). Tendencies in the literature are identi\ufb01ed, which indicate the future direc- tion of the profession.

2. Previous research

It is arguable whether project management is applied consistently and generically. Crawford[1] has found varia- tion in project management knowledge and practices between industries, countries and application areas. Due to this variation in understanding and application of pro- ject management, it is useful to understand which kinds of projects dominate the literature on project management.

However, it is di\ufb03cult to establish the conclusive distri- bution of project size or practice over industry sectors, as responses to surveys are subject to sample bias. The in\ufb02u- ence of industry bias is identi\ufb01ed by Evaristo and van Fenema[2, p. 276], who state that \u2018\u2018...the current knowl- edge based on the management of projects emanates from large capital construction projects responsible for only 10% of the projects.\u2019\u2019 Betts and Lansley[3, p. 211] found that in project management \u2018\u2018...by far the most frequently addressed industry was construction, followed by papers relating to the information and service sector and the pro- cess industries.\u2019\u2019

In a survey by Pinto and Slevin[4, p. 70], it was found that the construction industry constituted \u2018\u2018...44% of the sample.\u2019\u2019 The two main industry sectors identi\ufb01ed in a

0263-7863/$30.00\u00d3 2005 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2005.10.005
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 2 9514 8727/8754; fax: +61 2 9514
8875.
E-mail address:Julien.Pollack@uts.edu.au(J. Pollack).
www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman
International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 175\u2013184
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF
PROJECT
MANAGEMENT

study by Themistocleous and Wearne[5, p. 11] were construction (46%); and, services (30%). The two main industry sectors in a survey by Zobel and Wearne[6, p.

37]were found to be: services (41%); and construction

(23%). By contrast, the in\ufb02uence of sample choice becomes clear when the above industry distributions are compared to research by White and Fortune[7, p. 3] which found that over 25% of respondents were from the IT industry, 8% were from engineering and 2% were construction.

Regardless of the\u00d4true\u00d5 breakdown of project manage- ment amongst all industry sectors, it is clear from these studies that project management practice is heavily in\ufb02u- enced by research emanating from the construction indus- try. If, as Evaristo and van Fenema[2, p. 276] have found, this sector represents only a small percent of the total num- ber of projects executed, then there is an associated risk that research conclusions may be unquestioningly and invalidly transferred between industry sectors.

In order to understand the \ufb01eld of project management as it currently exists, it can be useful to understand how it has changed over time. As a \ufb01eld, project management is regularly facing new challenges, as the tools, methods and approaches to management that comprise the disci- pline are applied to di\ufb00erent areas, for di\ufb00erent ends, in dif- ferent cultures. As an \u2018\u2018emerging profession\u2019\u2019[8, p. 3], the \ufb01eld continues to grow and adapt, and can be said to have come along way from its origins in the 1950s, as academics and practitioners add new insight to the already wide range of practice options.

During the 1950s, network analysis and planning tech- niques, like PERT and CPM, formed the focus of develop- ment in project management. In the 1960s, these techniques continued to be popular in the construction industry, but Cost/Scheduling Control System Criteria (C/SCSC) gained popularity within the defence and aerospace industries. Developments in the \ufb01eld of project management in the 1960s also included the formation of two major profes- sional associations[9].

Shenhar[10] notes a focus on teamwork as a de\ufb01ning
feature of project management in the 1970s, while Stretton
[11]notes an emphasis on breakdown structures and sys-

tems concepts. The 1980s were typi\ufb01ed by a focus on pro- ject organisation, project risk[10], the project front end, external in\ufb02uences to projects, and initial work on the development of project management standards[12].

Already a wide variety of topics can be seen to have in\ufb02uenced the \ufb01eld, some of which have left a lasting impression, while others have risen and dissipated as momentary areas of enquiry. Pascale[13, p. 19] analyses changes to the general management \ufb01eld since World War II, and notes that the idea of the professional manager relies on premise of the relevance of generic concepts that underlie management in all situations. Managerial tech- niques have become a \u2018\u2018packaged goods industry\u2019\u2019, with the consequence that management techniques are only applied super\ufb01cially or while fashionable, often only sur- viving for a short period. A great deal of similarity can

be seen between the forces in\ufb02uencing the general manage-
ment and project management communities.

Many of the past management fads have had merit. While \u2018\u2018...there are valid aspects to most of these ideas, what is wrong is the piecemeal fashion in which they are implemented...\u2019\u2019[14, p. 17]. Because of the super\ufb01cial or transitory way in which many past management ideas have been applied, there has been little chance for in-depth learning regarding their e\ufb03cacy. \u2018\u2018Not surprisingly, ideas acquired with ease are discarded with ease. Fads ebb, \ufb02ow \u2013 and even change by 180 degrees\u2019\u2019[13, p. 20]. Similar changes can be seen within the project management literature.

3. Recent changes to the profession

Change in the practice of project management does not continue at a steady pace. The rate at which new ideas are introduced to a \ufb01eld can be related to a variety of factors. Pascale[13, p. 18] links the consumption rate of manage- ment fads to times of sagging fortunes and managerial panic. However, the introduction of new ideas to a \ufb01eld can also be related to expansion into new application areas and inclusion of new practitioners, who bring new perspec- tives and challenge established patterns of behaviour. For instance, in 2000, Urli and Urli[15, p. 33] indicated that the \u2018\u2018...\ufb01eld of project management has undergone very important developments during the last 10 years...\u2019\u2019 involving the extension of project management into new \ufb01elds of practice.

Seven studies stand out as relevant to an analysis of trends in the \ufb01eld of project management. Betts and Lans- ley[3] examined the \ufb01rst 10 years worth of articles in IJPM, using a system of weighted classi\ufb01cation, covering the years 1983\u20131992. Themistocleous and Wearne[5] have provided a similar study, examining the frequency of project man- agement topics between 1984 and 1998. Their study centres on IJPM, with limited comparison to PMJ. Zobel and Wearne[6] used the same method as Themistocleous and Wearne[5] to examine topic coverage in four project man- agement conferences between 1996 and 1998. Morris, Patel and Wearne[16] have also completed a survey of interest, documenting the review of, and possible changes to, the UK Association for Project Management\u00d5s Body of Knowledge. Morris[17] provides a portrait of contempo- rary project management research by examining the most popular topics in papers and book reviews from IJPM, PMJ and PM Network between 1990 and 1999.

Urli and Urli[15] used a \u2018\u2018scientometric method\u2019\u2019 of text analysis to analyse changes to the \ufb01eld. This approach was used to identify tendencies for association of keywords in all papers identi\ufb01ed as relevant to project management in the electronic database ABI-INFORM, published within the period 1987\u20131996. Their study is unique in that their method purportedly elicits \u2018\u2018...the most signi\ufb01cant themes as de\ufb01ned by academics themselves rather than by an a pri- ori classi\ufb01cation\u2019\u2019[15, p. 34]. Kloppenborg and Opfer also

176
L. Crawford et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 175\u2013184

examined tendencies within the \ufb01eld of project manage- ment, looking for past, present and future trends. Their study purportedly analysed \u2018\u2018...the vast majority of pub- licly accessible project management research that has been published in the English language between 1960 and 1999\u2019\u2019

[18, p. 52].

Although these studies examine di\ufb00erent time periods, using di\ufb00erent methods, comparison of the results received is interesting. The most signi\ufb01cant trends identi\ufb01ed in each of these above six papers have been identi\ufb01ed and tabu- lated inTable 1. The category titles that have been used

inTable 1 are taken directly from the relevant authors work. Four di\ufb00erent kinds of trend are identi\ufb01ed in these di\ufb00erent papers: topics which are identi\ufb01ed as of strong interest to the \ufb01eld of project management; topics which are not of interest; those topics of increasing interest; and those of decreasing interest.

What immediately stands out in cursory examination of
Table 1is the variation in themes identi\ufb01ed. Conclusions

drawn from this might be that the interests of project man- agers have changed over the di\ufb00erent periods studied. This, however, does not explain the di\ufb00erences in results for

Table 1
Comparison of identi\ufb01ed trends in project management
Dates covered by study
Themistocleous
and Wearne[5]
Zobel and
Wearne[6]
Urli and Urli
[15]
Betts and Lansley
[3]
Morris et al.
[16]
Kloppenborg and
Opfer[18]
Morris
[17]
1984\u20131998
1996\u20131998
1987\u20131996
1983\u20131992
Pre 2000
1960\u20131999
1990\u20131999
Communication
\u203a\u203a
Competency
\u203a\u203a
X
Context/environment
X
X
Contracts
X
Cost
X
Financial management
X
Goals, strategies
\u00b7
HR projects
\u203a\u203a
Human factors
X
Industrial relations
X
Information management
X
X
\u203a\u203a
X
Information systems
X
Innovation
\u203a\u203a
Integrative management
\u00b7
Leadership
\u203a\u203a
X
X
Legal awareness
X
Life cycles
X
Management by projects
\u203a\u203a
Managers
X
Monitor and control
X
X
X
Operations research
X
Optimising
X
Organisational change
\u203a\u203a
Performance
\u203a\u203a
\u203a\u203a
PERT
\u203a\u203a
Planning
X
X
\ufb02\ufb02
X
Procurement/purchasing
X
X
X
Program management
X
Project close
\u00b7
\u00b7
Project start-up
\u00b7
\u00b7
\u203a\u203a
Project organisation
X
X\ufb02\ufb02
Quality
X\u203a\u203a
X
X
Requirements management
\u00b7
Risk
X
X
X
X
Safety, health, environment
X
Scheduling
X\u203a\u203a
X
Stakeholder management
\u203a\u203a
Standards/certi\ufb01cation
\u203a\u203a
Stress
\u203a\u203a
Success criteria
\u203a\u203a
\u00b7
X
Systems management
\u00b7
Teamwork
X
X
Time
X
X
Table key:X \u2013 An interest in the topic area.
\u00b7\u2013 A lack of interest in the topic area.
\u203a\u203a\u2013 An increasing interest in the topic area.
\ufb02\ufb02\u2013 A decreasing interest in the topic area.
L. Crawford et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 175\u2013184
177

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