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From the Editor

Hans Georg Gemnden, Dr. rer. oec. habil., Dr. h.c. rer. oec. et soc.,
Chair for Technology and Innovation Management,
Technische Universitt Berlin, Berlin, Germany
When Less is More, and When Less is Less

The catechism of the economist is still ruled by the

assumption that we all live under the cold star of scarcity (Schneider, 1967). This means that our capacity to
produce scarce goods is lower than our need to consume
such goods. To cope with this problem, we can either
reduce our needs or increase our supply of goods through
exchange or an increased productivity. We can increase
productivity by reducing our consumption and invest the
saved resources into projects that lead to higher productivity. These simple economic arguments lay the foundation of a project economy.
Although projects require scarce resources, they can
be beneficial because they can enable more exchange
and lower its transaction cost; they can enable product,
process, and organizational innovations, which increase
productivity of production; and they can create goods
with new and superior functionalities, which transform
organizations into more effective and efficient ones. In
addition, projects can be a means to generating sustainable solutions that satisfy the triple bottom line of positive
economic, social, and ecological results.
Despite all justified criticism that many projects fail,
and that among these failures are also very large megaprojects (Flyvbjerg, 2014), we observe that an increasing
share of our economy is invested in projects and that
their added value is also increasing. This basic trend of
projectification (Midler, 1995) started in very ancient
cultures when pyramids, temples, cathedrals, and infrastructures were built, but has accelerated greatly in the
last decades and has been diffused into nearly all parts of
modern society. It can be attributed to the fact that project
management competence has increased and has become
an indispensable capability.
However, we still face the problem that projects are
temporary organizations and that the resources granted
to a project always need to be financed, particularly by
savings coming from reduced consumption. In aging and
wealthy societies, such as Germany and Japan, the propensity to save has gone down since several years; thus,
there are limits to investing more in uncertain projects.
In order to cope with this challenge, we will see different trends in how project management is expected to
Project Management Journal, Vol. 46, No. 3, 39
2015 by the Project Management Institute
Published online in Wiley Online Library (
DOI: 10.1002/pmj.21506

Photo credit: Markus Bullick

transform itself through 2025 (Gemnden & Schoper,

2014; an update will be presented in June at IRNOP 2015
in London, England): An ongoing professionalization of
project management driven by PMI, IPMA, and other
professional organizations; fundamental changes in education and learning; and a transformation of project
management research. Public control of large infrastructure projects is improved by new forms of project governance, stakeholder management, and improvements
in the project management competence of the owners
of such projects, which very often are public utilities.
On the firm level, we see trends toward more business
control of projects; a more strategic and entrepreneurial
view on the management of projects, sensu Peter Morris (2013); better resource allocation systems to control
project landscapes (e.g., project portfolio and program
management); and better human resource management
(career systems, structured learning systems, leadership,
and teamwork).
Several of these trends view project management
not only as an ordinary capability, but also as a dynamic
capability, sensu David Teece (2014, p. 318): Higherlevel activities that enable an enterprise to direct its
ordinary activities toward high-payoff endeavors. This
requires managing, or orchestrating, the firms resources
to address and shape rapidly changing business environments. The management of large projects, as well as the
management of project portfolios, have been conceptualized successfully by various authors as a dynamic capability (Killen & Hunt, 2010; Petit, 2012; Sicotte, Drouin, &
Delerue, 2014; Davies & Brady, 2015; Davies, Dodson, &
Gann, in press).
The optimistic variant of the future scenario says that
project management will be empowered; will become
more female, more agile, more entrepreneurial, and more
humane; will master more complex projects; and will be
staffed with better ICT and decision support systems. A
better cooperation between senior and middle management levels, between line and project management, and
with external partners will help to attract, select, and
implement the right projects and save resources by picking the winners.
This positive scenario might be a likely one, but there
are barriers and counterforces that may lead to other scenarios, which are less positive. Projects require resources,
which must be financed from savings in operation or

June/July 2015 Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj

From the Editor

consumption, thus there is an inherent conflict to getting these

resources granted, because someone has to get less for a considerable time. In order to get projects approved and started,
their benefits and costs should be stated convincingly.
Bent Flyvbjerg (2014) and Oskar Grn (2004) deliver
arguments and evidence for the case of megaprojects: the
approved plan is neither the final nor the correct one. Rather,
several sublimes increase scope, budget, and time horizons,
and explain a breakfix model. In order to overcome such
deficiencies and select the right projects, additional resources
have to be invested in planning and controlling systems,
risk management, resource allocation systems, and human
resource management. These additional resourcesthese
overheadsdeliver only an indirect value creation, and thus
are more difficult to defend against downsizing initiatives
and changes in senior management, particularly when the
problems that have initiated the creation of some dynamic
capabilities have been mastered and forgotten. Although
the findings from our studies on project portfolio management performed during my ten years as chair at TU Berlin
document that such overheads pay back, this does not
imply that firms follow such evidence. (See publications at for a bibliography
of recent articles from this research. Interested organizations
may participate in the 2015 survey.)
The desire to get more with fewer resources is an evergreen of management research and practice. Lets take a look
at three prominent bestsellers from the early 1990s, which
reflect what happened in the 1980s and started long before.
In their book, The Machine That Changed the World: The Story
of Lean Production, James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and
Daniel Roos (1990) presented a plea for a lean production.
Based on a large-scale research project, the authors document how Japanese car manufacturers and their transplants
outperform their U.S. competitors. They had perfected a
process-oriented, just-in-time production system with very
efficient supply chain management with low stocks and short
lead-times. This is a high-performance quality system that
develops and produces very reliable cars and highly flexible
team-based production systems that allow a high product
variety with low cost. The findings of this book were not really
newapproximately ten years earlier many characteristics
of the Toyota production system had been published by academic scholarsbut these earlier publications had a much
lower impact on senior and middle managers in the automotive industry than the book from the MIT International Motor
Vehicle Program (IMVP). (See Holweg, 2007, for an excellent
documentation.) A major source for the Toyota system was a
stream of continuous innovations, which were delivered by
continuous improvements teamslightweight, but actionoriented project teams in the middle of operations. In early
research reports, the IMVP researchers used the term fragile

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Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj

production instead of lean productionemphasizing that

this production and innovation system is willing to take risks,
and that the system may also have its downsides. However,
the word lean became a buzzword, and many downsizing
activities, and problematic behaviors toward suppliers, customers, and members of the organization were associated
with the word lean.
Looking at new product development projects, the 1991
bestseller from Preston Smith and Donald Reinertsen,
Developing Products in Half the Time suggested that quantum leaps in development time and budget are possible. The authors created the term fuzzy front end and
described many measures on how to accelerate processes.
Although their emphasis was on speeding up NPD processes, not on reducing resources, they believed that higher
investments in the early stages and parallelization in later
stages would also reduce the need for resources, because
the cost of financing developments would be reduced, and
revenues would be higher and realized earlier.
In 1992, Steven Wheelwright and Kim Clark published their
book Revolutionizing Product Development: Quantum Leaps
in Speed, Efficiency, and Quality. Steven Wheelwright and
Kim Clark saw projects as a means for better resource utilization, organizational renewal, and market success. They saw
efficiency gains in time, budget, and scope as a consequence
of better project and portfolio management, not as a plea for
downsizing projects themselves. They initiated discussions
on how to improve the developmental funnel; they made
a plea for cross-functional integration and for empowered
heavy weight project teams.
What happened then was not anticipated in these bestsellers. The 1990s became a worldwide watershed owing to
the birth of the Internet, the fall of the Berlin Wall earlier, and
the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, the desire to accomplish more with fewer resources was
strongly reinforced by these events. The Internet allowed a
restructuring of the value chain and new business models and
societal innovations were created. The markets now became
really global, and countries including China, India, and
Brazil became very powerful catch-up economies. Projects
increased in size and complexity; they needed to fill many
more requirements; sustainability, in particular, became a
real issue. There is no industry that doesnt address this, and
for todays automotive industry saving resources and avoiding pollution is the central issue, and e-mobility has become
a new development path. In a growing, aging, and urbanized
world, the need to offer better lives for more people with still
limited resources, and increasing conflicts about their control,
is more challenging than ever.
What answers does the current research in the realm of
projects provide to this challenging question?
Let me pick five streams of research that have addressed
the question: How do we reach more with less?

1. The first stream of research analyzes changing values in our

society. Many of us are convinced that the results of projects
should lead to more sustainable production and consumption, and not only project leaders, but also project sponsors,
and project customers have a stake in realizing these goals.
Many of us are also convinced that we have not yet found the
most effective ways to transform these changes of values in
adequate behaviors and results. However, it is also a question of values. Although experiments from the German Nobel
prize winner Reinhard Selten and many others have shown
that the assumptions regarding homo oeconomicus are
not given in the real world, economists still face difficulties
in shifting to a more realistic model of homo sapiens as a
basis for their theories. Project management also shows some
inertia in reflecting its core values.
2. The second stream of research comes from innovation
management and addresses the fact that several successful innovations focused on delivering minimal viable
products that cost less and also require less resources in
their projects. In his bestselling 1997 book, The Innovators
Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to
Fail, Clayton M. Christensen described how disruptive
technologies, which emerged at the bottom of the market, in
niches with a low profitability, finally squeezed out existing
highly valued solutions in the mainstream. Such solutions
will probably be developed and diffused more often in
low-income countries that are in the process of catching up.
Thus, countries such as India can become a lead-market
for frugal innovations (Ramdorai & Herstatt, 2015; Tiwari
& Herstatt, 2012a). The term frugal refers to products
and services that seek to minimize the use of material and
financial resources in the complete value chain, with the
objective of reducing the cost of ownership while fulfilling
or even exceeding certain criteria of acceptable quality
standards (Tiwari & Herstatt, 2012b).
3. The third stream of research comes from entrepreneurship
research. Inventive entrepreneurs applying project entrepreneurship use new instruments, such as crowd funding
to get initial viable resources for financing their business
start-ups (Manning, 2015). We also see communitarian
entrepreneurs who support a community of lead users and
develop highly valued innovations with a minimal budget
(Fauchart & Gruber, 2011). Intrinsic motivation is also driving high-performing open source development projects
(von Krogh et al., 2012).
4. The fourth stream of research comes from creativity and
innovation management. It documents that necessity can
indeed become a mother of invention (see, e.g., Hoegl,
Gibbert, & Mazursky, 2008; Keupp & Gassmann, 2013;
Roskes, 2014). A widespread notion in the literature is that
financial resource slack supports creativity and innovation (e.g., Amabile, 1996). You get what you pay for is
still a guiding principle for management at large. However,

new product development literature has also shown that

resource-constrained projects can lead to products that are
judged as highly innovative and that are very successful in
the marketplace. However: The mere scarcity of financial
resources can hardly drive innovation in real organizations.
Otherwise, smaller and smaller budgets would invariably
lead to equal or even greater innovative outcomes. The
underlying research question, then, is: Under what conditions, financial resource constraints enable, rather than
inhibit, the performance of innovation projects? (Hoegl
et al., 2008, p. 1383, italics added). Recent research has
not only delivered increasing empirical evidence, but in
particular, developed strong conceptual arguments from
different types of literature on the individual, team, and
organizational levels, specifying such conditions. On the
individual level it was shown that less favorable conditions (less resources, added obstacles) stimulated people
to open up to more unusual means (Marguc, van Kleef,
& Frster, 2014). Marieke Roskes (2014) makes a distinction between limiting constraints that consume or occupy
cognitive resources, such as time pressure and dual-task
demands, and channeling constraints that help people
to efficiently focus their resources, such as procedural
instructions and task structure. The second factor in her
model is the type of motivation: approach versus avoidance motivation. In the case of a crisis, under stress,
avoidance motivation is dominant. In this case, limiting
constraints strongly undermines creativity due to cognitive
overload, and they are experienced as a negative threat.
Channeling constraintssystematic procedural instructions, restricted goal definitionsboost creativity because
they fit a need for structure, provide clarity, and focus
attention and resources on task relevant efforts. In the
case of an approach motivation, the impact of limiting and
channeling constraints is reversed. In turbulent economic
situations people may strive to impress by working fast
and tackling many projects simultaneously. Her proposed
theoretical model suggests that this strategy may be useful
in prosperous times, but detrimental in times of a crisis.
On the team level the article by Hoegl et al. (2008) specifies several conditions under which financial constraints
should lead to higher performance. Weiss, Hoegl, and
Gibbert (2011) document that fewer financial resources
only lead to higher economic performance of NPD projects
in the case of a team climate for innovation. Weiss, Hoegl,
and Gibbert (2014) show that the innovation project team
members perceptions of sufficient material resources are
influenced by two socio-cognitive factors: the belief of
the team being able to accomplish a task (team potency)
and the tasks work volume (workload). They also found a
positive relationship between perceived material resource
adequacy and new product quality, but a negative relationship between perceived material resource adequacy
June/July 2015 Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj

From the Editor

and new product novelty. Thus, in contrast to the prevailing belief in the innovation management literature, new
product novelty (but not quality) benefits from less perceived adequacy of material resources. On the firm level,
recent research also provides evidence that radical innovations are driven by financial constraints and knowledge
constraints (see Keupp & Gassmann, 2013). Based on case
studies of start-up firms, Bicen and Johnson (2015) develop
the concept of lean innovation capability and observed that
firms that view resource limitation as an enabler rather
than an inhibitor seem to have this capability. It reflects a
firms ability to experiment with ideas that meet core customer needs by constantly iterating the initial offering with
the purpose of validating the learning through continuous
market feedback to achieve sustainable performance.
5. A fifth stream of research comes from psychology. We observe
an increasing number of studies documenting the dark side of
working on several projects at the same time or on severally
under-budgeted projects. Zika-Viktorsson, Sundstrm, and
Engwall (2006) document the influence of working in multiple project assignments on work-load and stress. Pinto and
Patanakul (2015) analyze which types of projects narcissistic
project champions will probably promote, and how they will
behave in situations when projects should be terminated, or
when their projects compete for scarce resources with other
projects. Their analysis shows that their behavior tends to
erode good project portfolio practices, with negative consequences for other projects than their pet projects. If they promote megaprojects, escalating commitments becomes more
likely, and their projects may turn into black holes (Keil &
Mhring, 2010). The situation becomes most critical if such
project sponsors are backed by senior managers who suffer
from hubris and trust their champions too much (see the
recent review of Picone, Dagnino, & Min, 2014, on hubris).
Finally, Pierce and Aguinis (2015) develop a conceptual
model explaining the consequences of a new construct called
detrimental citizenship behavior.
The last, more pessimistic, fifth research stream stands in
contrast to the more optimistic four other streams of research.
Thus, future research offers very interesting new insights for
project management researchers and project management
The invited article in this issue of Project Management Journal , Rallying the Troops or Beating the Horses?
How Project-Related Demands Can Lead to Either HighPerformance or Abusive Supervision from Erin C. Gallagher,
Alicia K. Mazur, and Neal M. Ashkanasy, presents a contingency view. The authors also address the key question of my
editorial, but from a different point of view. They start with
the assumption: In todays high-pressure work environment,
project managers often are forced to do more with less.
They argue that this imperative can lead project managers

June/July 2015

Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj

to engage in either high-performance or abusive supervision

behaviors. They develop a model linking a project managers
cognitive appraisal of project-related pressure to perform
to high performance versus abusive supervisory behaviors,
which in turn impact three project outcomes: stakeholder
relationships, people-related project success, and employee
well-being. They propose that this choice is moderated by a
project managers personal resources (psychological capital,
emotional intelligence, dark triad personality).
Their model raises interesting questions on how to attract,
select, develop, recognize, and retain the right project managers and project champions; how to develop and maintain the
right governance regimes; and the right values for a projectoriented company. It appears that more is needed than good
processes and competences for single projects, programs, and
project portfolios. We want simple answers for complex problems, but they share a fundamental weakness and are most
likely not the sufficient ones.
Lets take a look at the other articles in this issue:
The article Toward High Reliability Project Organizing in
Safety-Critical Projects by Fiona C. Saunders is one of the first
attempts to systematically and explicitly extend the literature
on high reliability organizations, which usually studies organizations involved in safety critical ongoing operations, in the
area of complex projects. The topic is important because many
projects also raise critical safety challenges both in the course
of their execution and in terms of insuring a safe output and
subsequent exploitation. In order to understand the conditions
that concur to produce a high reliability project environment,
the author reviews the different perspectives and debates on
high reliability organizations and compares the characteristics
of operational environments with those of safety-critical projects. Then, based on various contributions, including recent
PMJ publications on military and polar expeditions, the
author proposes a series of hypotheses about the practices that
would characterize high reliability project organizing. Overall,
the article makes a well-structured and thought-provoking
contribution to both project management and high-reliability
organization literatures. The editor for this article was Serghei
Yi-Jen Chen publishes research on The Role of Reward
Systems in Product Innovations: An Examination of New
Product Development Projects. His very interesting article
analyzes how the performance impacts of proactive and
responsive market orientation in incremental and radical new
product development projects are moderated by processbased and outcome-based rewards. A responsive market orientation focuses on serving current customer needs, whereas
a proactive market orientation concentrates on latent and
emerging customer needs. Both market orientation types are
assumed to positively influence new product performance
through their effects on incremental and radical innovations,
respectively. The author assumes that firms typically organize

separate project teams for incremental and radical innovation

projects. He further states that project teams that conduct
incremental innovation have a responsive market orientation,
whereas those that focus on radical innovation have a proactive market orientation. The main effect hypotheses are:
H1: A proactive market orientation is positively related to
radical innovation performance.
H2: A responsive market orientation is positively related to
incremental innovation performance.
These influences are moderated by the type of reward.
Process-based rewards are tied to procedures, and behaviors,
such as compliance to stage-gate-processes. Outcome-based
rewards are tied to match the bottom-line of end results.
Regarding process-based rewards, the author derives the following hypotheses:
H3a: Process-based rewards positively moderate the effect
of a proactive market orientation on radical innovation performance.
H3b: Process-based rewards negatively moderate the
effect of a responsive market orientation on incremental
innovation performance.
Regarding outcome-based rewards the author posits:
H4a: Outcome-based rewards negatively moderate the
effect of a proactive market orientation on radical innovation
H4b: Outcome-based rewards positively moderate the
effect of a responsive market orientation on incremental
innovation performance.
The results confirm all hypotheses. The research is very
valuable for project management because it documents that
there is not one best way to organize new product development projects. Rather, in the case of very innovative new
product development projects, proactive market orientation
and process-based rewards should be implemented, whereas
in the case of incremental new product development projects,
a responsive market orientation and outcome-based rewards
should be used. The editor for this article was Alexander Kock.
The article Structural and Cultural Misalignment: Knowledge Sharing Barriers in Project Networks by Hans SolliSther, Jan Terje Karlsen, and Kim van Oorschot addresses
knowledge sharing in complex multi-firm project networks.
In their empirical study, in the context of an innovative shipbuilding project, they identify relationship challenges that
hamper knowledge sharing: differences between organizational cultures among stakeholders, strategic misalignment
of long-term goals of stakeholders, and protecting knowledge
by patenting or secrecy. Although the authors do not claim
that results based on this research are generalizable in other
contexts, the proposed framework can be used to analyze barriers in knowledge sharing in any complex project network.
The editor for this article was Jaakko Kujala.

Diana Chroner and Fredrik Backlund present an article titled A Holistic View on Learning in Project-Based
Organizations. The authors document that learning is still
problematic in project-based organizations. They argue that
new project management capabilities are needed, such as
systems thinking, which will allow project-based organizations to better cope with learning in organizations. They make
a plea for an organizational-wide project learning process.
Building on case studies, they develop a conceptual model
that analyzes (1) structure and processes, (2) management
support, and (3) support systems that are required to foster
learning. They make a plea for a holistic view or organizational learning, and for new structures, processes, and roles
that are responsible for intra- and inter-project learning. The
editor for this article was Hans Georg Gemnden.
The contribution from Perry Forsythe, Shankar Sankaran,
and Christopher Biesenthal, How Far Can BIM Reduce Information Asymmetry in the Australian Construction Context,
addresses the ongoing trend of the digitalization of project
management. Digital technology is transforming all aspects
of the economy and the same is true for construction projects.
Although there are many technologies in development for the
construction industry, building information modeling (BIM)
holds great promise as a tool for coordinating complex projects and enhancing collaboration within the delivery supply
chain. Using multiple case studies and a lens of agency theory,
this article shows how BIM changes information asymmetries
between the contractor and project owner and can improve
project performance. However, numerous obstacles to the
effective application of BIM exist, including technological
readiness and skepticism around truly collaborative contracting relationships. The editor for this article was John Steen.
The article by Eamonn Molloy and Trish Chetty on The
Rocky Road to Legacy: Lessons from the 2010 FIFA World Cup
South Africa Stadium Program focuses on the legacy objectives of mega-event construction projects, such as the FIFA
World Cup and Olympic Games. The problem with many
mega-events is that they rarely achieve the expected benefits
espoused in their original proposals and project plans, often
resulting in an abundance of underutilized stadiums and
facilities. In this interesting study of South Africas 2010 FIFA
World Cup Stadium Program, Molloy and Chetty identify the
seven key factors explaining the differences between expected
benefits and the resulting legacy. They conclude that each
host country should create a delivery authority to oversee and
lead the coordination of the program. Their research has clear
implications for other mega-event construction programs,
but also raises important questions for how all types of large
megaprojects can be better organized to achieve their legacy
objectives. The editor for this article was Andrew Davies.
I thank all our authors, reviewers, and editors, and my
teams at PMI and Wiley for their work.
Hans Georg Gemnden, Berlin, 21 May 2015.
June/July 2015 Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj

From the Editor

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June/July 2015 Project Management Journal DOI: 10.1002/pmj