Gaining and Losing Organizational Capability to Manage Projects

Harvey Maylor / Martina Huemann

Organizations under pressure to improve their competitive position (private sector) or justify notions of best value (public and third sector), could be expected to reconfigure their resources/adopt promising practices. The resource-based view provides a useful lens which examines responses to organizational pressures, combining both economic and managerial issues. We apply this to a longitudinal study of four project intensive organizations and their capability to manage/deliver projects. The study shows that whilst rhetoric of continuous improvement is always present, with plenty of instances where resources were reconfigured to provide improvement (the ladders), there were also examples where reconfiguration provided a loss of capability (snakes). Policies and practices leading to both improvements and loss of capabilities are examined with the objective of joining a conversation at conference about capability gain/loss and specifically how capability can be preserved during times of economic pressure and loss of key human resources.