Project Studies and Engaged Scholarship: Directions Towards Contextualized and Reflexive Research on Projects

Joana Geraldi, Jonas Söderlund

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: In 2006, the “Rethinking Project Management” network called for a paradigm shift in project research, and proposed five research directions. The directions inspired research and marked a milestone in the development of the field. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the past decade and to rejuvenate these research directions.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors propose the umbrella term: “project studies” to denote the research related to projects and temporary organizing. Project studies is conceived not only as a body of research, but also as a social process embedded in research communities, and contemporary Zeitgeist. Based on Sandberg’s interpretative approach to the fit between work and works (in this case research-researcher) and Habermas’ three types of human interests: technical, practical, and emancipatory, the authors develop a conceptual framework circumscribing three types of research in project studies.
Findings: The conceptual framework is used to craft future research directions, in the lines proposed by Winter et al. (2006b).
Research limitations/implications: The authors conclude by proposing for a sixth theme on the practice of theorizing, and call for engaged, ambidextrous scholars, who’s “job” goes beyond the writing of articles and research applications, and includes shaping discourses of project research, nurturing new project scholars, contributing to project practice and carefully considering the legacy of projects and project studies in society.
Originality/value: This paper positions research as a social process, and the role of researchers as actors shaping research in project studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)767 – 797
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Reflexivity
  • Sociology of science
  • Habermas
  • Scholarship
  • Interpretative ontology
  • Rethinking project management

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