A ‘Stranger’ in the Making of Strategy: A Process Perspective of Project Portfolio Management in a Pharmaceutical Firm

Jane Bjørn Vedel*, Joana Geraldi

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Scholars assume that the strategic direction of project portfolios is designed within organisations. Our study challenges this assumption. Taking a process perspective, we explored the long-term influence of an external partner, a university researcher, on the development of a project portfolio in a large pharmaceutical firm. By following five contracts that connected the researcher to the firm, we observed how the researcher initiated and managed projects in the portfolio, thereby keeping his influence and relevance alive. Yet, despite his long-term influence, the researcher was perceived as a ‘stranger’ with an ambiguous, and at times surprising, role. We advance our theoretical understanding of the link between portfolios and their contexts by extending the concept of project lineage to inter-organisational lineages and showing their nonlinear and social character. We also suggest related contracts, ‘contractual paths,’ as novel and useful for exploring the link between portfolios and their contexts.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Project Management
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)454-463
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2020

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 10 June 2020


  • Contractual path
  • Contracts
  • External context
  • External partner
  • Longitudinal study
  • Process perspective
  • Project portfolio
  • Stranger
  • Strategy