My published research output is available on the publications page

Current research Project:

I am currently involved in a research project with my colleague Prof. Ginny Greiman from Boston University, and Tres Roeder and Steve Martin of Roeder Consulting.  This research will consider the convergence of three areas: Strategy, Project and Program Management, and Organizational Change.

This research project will be particularly concerned with the following issues (subject to refinement, agreement and amendment):

  1. Is there a trend towards project, program, and/or portfolio managers becoming more involved with the strategic direction of organizations.  More specifically, are PPPMs gaining influence in strategic decision-making, and having an earlier involvement in strategic direction and vision.
  2. Are project managers becoming the ‘new’ change managers, or is there a difference in the two roles.  Does this merging of roles have different form across varied sectors and organizational forms and sizes.
  3. How are project managers engaging with and resolving issues of increasing complexity in modern organizations.  This will require that we quantify and define complexity in the context of this research.
  4. Given the multiplicity of data and data sources, can project managers and strategic managers assimilate and process available data, and use it to make strategic and project-based decisions.
  5. How are project managers resolving issues of ambiguity in their work, and is intuition a useful skill to assist.
  6. How do these issues link with the strategic goals of the organization and management of risk and traditional ‘value’ and success indicators in project and change management.

This research is currently in the data collection stage, and takes the form of a comprehensive questionnaire to at least 12,000 potential respondents, which should give a robust data set for analysis.

Watch this space…

PM in Brazil:

I was in Brazil in October 2010, where I was a ‘keynote’ speaker at the 5th Brazil Project Management Congress in Brasilia.  This was an interesting experience, and a fascinating insight into the evolution of Project Management in an evolving and rapidly growing economy.

The PM sector in Brazil is maturing quickly, given a need for extensive infrastructure projects in a fast-growing economy.  This is resulting in a need to shift from the traditional ‘tools and techniques’ of PM to a level of expertise that embraces the more behavioral aspects of managing projects, the need to resolve ambiguity and complexity, and to ‘step away’ from rigid planning in favor of more ‘improvisational’ techniques.

This was essentially the message from my ‘keynote’ presentation, and I would be interested in collaborating with other academics to explore the development of PM in emerging economies, and especially in South America.

Doctoral Thesis – awarded in January 2003

‘Project Management and the Management of Strategic Change in the UK Retail Lending Sector’

This research was concerned with socio-behavioral aspects of managing strategic change in organizations using a project management framework.  The focus is on people and behaviors, and the cultures of the organizations undergoing change, and there is a secondary topic, involving a rapidly developing and important area of academic literature, which is the growth of ‘improvisational working practices’.

This research was carried out and the thesis was completed while I was a full-time member of the Ph.D program at Cardiff Business School in the UK. Cardiff Business School is currently rated #4 in the UK Management School rankings.

The Ph.D research was supervised by the late Professor Richard Whipp, and it was examined by Professor Ken Starkey of Nottingham University, and Professor Mike Reed from Cardiff. The thesis has produced a number of published papers, and has prompted my subsequent research into improvisational working.

Research Interests:

My current and recent research has been primarily concerned with the use and abuse of improvisational working practices, especially within the project domain.

Project based research has until recently been neglected, and  earlier research into projects has tended to concentrate on tools and techniques, to the detriment of behavioral issues.  There has however been a shift towards an appreciation of complexity and ambiguity within project-based work, and arguably some of the conceptual and practical elements of organizational improvisation are assisting with resolving some of the issues surrounding this new appreciation.

I am also involved in research that investigates the behavioral aspects of the management of change within organizations, including research into coping with change, and into transition through the perceived change process.

I have published quite extensively in this area, and the papers are mostly available to download as .pdf files from my publications page.

Research Grants:

I have received a number of small research grants whilst researching in the UK, including Conference Grants to present at major international conferences, and a UK£3949 grant from the British Academy to carry out fieldwork for my recent research on the Project Management of Superyacht Construction.

Current Research Plans:

With my move to Boston University, I am undertaking some collaborative research in the areas of Improvisation, Project-based Management, and Innovation with colleagues, both at BU and elsewhere.

This has already commenced, and I have been contributing to collaborative research at BU into the use of Project Management tools and principles to monitor Venture Capital investments.  This paper won the Best Paper Award at the 18th World Business Congress in Tbilisi, Georgia in July 2009.

I am also writing a paper with Dr. Monica Kennedy of the University of Canberra.  This paper is about learning from improvisation in the PM sector – we anticipate presenting it at the Academy of Management Conference in Boston, MA in August 2012, and of course publishing it as well, maybe in Management Learning.

Ethics & Governance in Project Management:

A number of my colleagues (notably Dr. Vijay Kanabar and Virginia Greiman J.D at Boston University and I are currently engaged in work which will contribute towards an understanding of issues surrounding Ethics and Governance in the project domain.

At the moment, we are in the early stages of this work, and I have a research assistant working on a review of the literature, and on an exercise to ‘compare and contrast’ the content of Ethical and Governance standards from other countries, cultures, and business sectors.

The intention is ultimately to develop a set of ethical standards that can assist with the evolution of Project Management as a discipline, and as a ‘profession’.

More to come here…  Page still under construction