An Imperfect Perfect Project Process in Research and Innovation

Sunny Mosangzi Xu, Marcel Bogers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


University researchers often need to plan for perfect research and innovation projects with other organizations to secure external funding. However, the unfolding process of the funded research and innovation projects is often far less than perfect. In this paper, we try to challenge the perfect project management thinking and explore the imperfect project managing processes from the perspectives of university researchers. Tensions in the project process exist both between the perfect management and imperfect managing and in university researchers striving for new knowledge exploration and learning while maintaining the exploration within predetermined project boundaries. In order to better understand how university researchers manage the tensions in an imperfect project managing process, we conducted ethnographic fieldwork in a Horizon 2020 research and innovation project. Inspired by Lefebvre's spatial triad, we identified that university researchers enact boundary setting practices and pivoting learning practices in balancing the tensions across the conceived, perceived, and lived social space of the research and innovation project. We discuss and highlight the importance of accounting for projects' embeddedness and temporariness in moving away from perfect management thinking and towards imperfect management thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonja Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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