Title: Projects and politics: exploring the duality between action and politics in complex projects

Authors: Erling S. Andersen, Jonas Soderlund, Anne Live Vaagaasar

Addresses: BI Norwegian School of Management, 0484 Oslo, Norway. ' BI Norwegian School of Management, 0484 Oslo, Norway; Department of Management and Engineering, Linkoping University, 58183 Linkoping, Sweden. ' BI Norwegian School of Management, 0484 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: Traditional research and literature on project management and organisation theory tend to view project organisations as non-political bodies and purely action-oriented endeavours. In contrast, this paper presents an alternative analysis drawing on the idea of projects as political and emergent processes. Based on in-depth, case-study findings of a complex development and implementation project, we suggest an analytical framework that focuses on the interrelatedness of action and political processes and which explains how project management deals with the two processes simultaneously. We identify and analyse three separate but nested organisational logics applied by the project management team to cope with the dual challenges of politics and action. The general idea is to illustrate the notion of projects as emergent processes involving both politics and action. The three logics are: 1) balancing openness and closure; 2) reformulating tasks to seek solutions; 3) relating to improve action capacity. Our findings add to the literature on the role and practice of project management in complex projects that entail both stakeholder and technological challenges.

Keywords: complex projects; politics; project management; action; decision making; practice; emergent processes; organisation; organisational logic; project organisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMDM.2010.035213

International Journal of Management and Decision Making, 2010 Vol.11 No.2, pp.121 - 139

Accepted: 06 Feb 2009
Published online: 14 Sep 2010 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article