Project Studies: What It Is, Where It Is Going

Joana Geraldi, Jonas Söderlund

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Project organising is a growing field of scholarly inquiry and management practice. In recent years, two important developments have influenced this field: (1) the study and practice of projects have extended their level of analysis from mainly focussing on individual projects to focussing on micro- as well as macro-level concerns around projects; and (2) there has been a greater interest in different kinds of scholarly inquiry. Taken together, these two developments call for closer scrutiny of how the levels of analysis and the types of inquiry are related and benefit each other, and of the explanations of project practices they could offer. To discuss avenues for future research on projects and project practice, this paper suggests the notion of project studies to better grasp the status of our field. We combine these two sets of ideas to analyse the status and future options for advancing project research: (1) levels of analysis; and (2) type of research. Analysing recent developments within project studies, we observe the emergence of what we refer to as type 3 research, which reconciles the need for theoretical development and engagement with practice. Type 3 research suggests pragmatic avenues to move away from accepted yet unhelpful assumptions about projects and project organising. The paper ends with an agenda for future research, which offers project scholars a variety of options to position themselves in the field of project studies, and to explore opportunities in the crossroads between levels of analysis and types of research.
Project organising is a growing field of scholarly inquiry and management practice. In recent years, two important developments have influenced this field: (1) the study and practice of projects have extended their level of analysis from mainly focussing on individual projects to focussing on micro- as well as macro-level concerns around projects; and (2) there has been a greater interest in different kinds of scholarly inquiry. Taken together, these two developments call for closer scrutiny of how the levels of analysis and the types of inquiry are related and benefit each other, and of the explanations of project practices they could offer. To discuss avenues for future research on projects and project practice, this paper suggests the notion of project studies to better grasp the status of our field. We combine these two sets of ideas to analyse the status and future options for advancing project research: (1) levels of analysis; and (2) type of research. Analysing recent developments within project studies, we observe the emergence of what we refer to as type 3 research, which reconciles the need for theoretical development and engagement with practice. Type 3 research suggests pragmatic avenues to move away from accepted yet unhelpful assumptions about projects and project organising. The paper ends with an agenda for future research, which offers project scholars a variety of options to position themselves in the field of project studies, and to explore opportunities in the crossroads between levels of analysis and types of research.
LanguageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Volume36
Issue number1
Pages55-70
Number of pages16
ISSN0263-7863
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Levels of analysis
  • Research
  • Project studies
  • Project organising
  • Scholarship
  • Sociology of science
  • Project management

Cite this

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title = "Project Studies: What It Is, Where It Is Going",
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Project Studies : What It Is, Where It Is Going. / Geraldi, Joana ; Söderlund, Jonas.

In: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2018, p. 55-70.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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