Mapping the Dynamics of Management Innovation: The Case of Project Management

Janice Thomas / Stella George / Svetlana Cicmil

Organizations increase their strategic capacity to deliver value by implementing management innovations. Management innovations, defined as changes in organizational structure, management practices and systems, knowledge used for decision-making, and managerial skills, are implemented to improve an organization’s ability to function efficiently and effectively (Hamel, 2006). Many organizations in the recent past have struggled with improving project management as this sort of managerial innovation. Today, project management risks being labelled a management fad (Abrahamson, 1991) unless we can identify the processes through which it is successfully implemented in order to deliver capabilities valued by organizations. Employing a project-as-practice approach, we examine lessons learned from the project management implementation journeys undertaken by more than 40 organizations. Analysing and mapping over 100 project management interventions, some across a period of 30 years, provides evidence of what is actually done in practice. We identify types of interventions and the dynamics of managerial innovation these organizations experience. Where needs arise (external and internal shake ups), organizations are capable of radical change; however, all these organizations ultimately tend towards continuous conservative change. Employing a project-as –practice approach, we examine lessons learned from the project management implementation journeys undertaken by more than 40 organizations.. Analysing and mapping over 100 project management interventions across a period of up to 30 years provides evidence of what is actually done in practice. We identify types of interventions and the dynamics of managerial innovation these organizations’ experience. Where needs arise (external and internal shake ups) organizations are capable of radical change however, all these organizations ultimately tend towards continuous conservative change.