Project Management Theory and the Management of Research Projects

Erik Ernø-Kjølhede

Research output: Working paperResearch

1622 Downloads (Pure)


The management of a research project is full of uncertainty and complexity. Research has substantial elements of creativity and innovation and predicting the outcome of research in full is therefore very difficult. In addition, the relationship between the research project manager and the project participants is characterised by an asymmetric distribution of knowledge where individual researchers know a lot more about the potential – negative and positive – of their research contributions than the project manager does. Furthermore, researchers in a project may have many competing demands on their time and they may find themselves competing against each other for individual scientific priority or the right to patent a research result. Given these and other inherent difficulties of managing a research project this paper addresses two questions in particular: 1) What kind of guidance may a research project manager get from existing project management literature? 2) What kinds of changes or additions are needed to build a project management model for research? In dealing with these questions the paper gives an outline of some of the basic tools and assumptions of existing project management theory and compares these to conditions in research. Based on this, the paper discusses the task of the research project manager and the interpersonal dynamics of a research team with a view to giving some pointers to what a research project manager can do to create the best possible conditions for a successful research project.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen
PublisherDepartment of Management, Politics and Philosophy, CBS
Number of pages35
ISBN (Print)8790403703
Publication statusPublished - 1999
SeriesMPP Working Paper

Cite this