International Project Management Strategy And Organisational Design

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International Project Management Strategy And Organisational Design

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    International Project Management: Strategy and Organisational Design


    John Saee

    Faculty of Business and Enterprise &

    International University in Germany

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference (OBEC) June 24-26, 2009 Oxford

    University, UK

    Address for correspondence: Professor John Saee, PhD

    Faculty of Business and Enterprise &

    International University in Germany

    Email address:

June 24-26, 2009 1

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    International Project Management: Strategy and Organisational Design

    John Saee

    Faculty of Business and Enterprise &

    International University in Germany

    Email address:



    Globalization of the world economy has had far reaching implications for the existing

    organizational structures and hence their management practices around the world. As a

    result, many organizations now recognize that they can increase their flexibility and

    responsiveness in globally competitive market environments through deployment of

    transnational project teams, powerful vehicles to develop innovation and change within

    their companies. Such teams consist of membership with multiple nationalities, working

    on activities that transcend national borders [Snell et al, 1996; Snow et al 1996; Iles &

    Paromjit, 1997].

    In this organizational setting, specialists from various functional areas across the

    organizations located in different geographical areas work together jointly and in ad hoc

    project teams from inception to completion of projects for which they are wholly

    responsible. These project teams are empowered to act on behalf of their company (Peters,


    Meanwhile it is argued that international project teams are where most of the boundary

    spanning work in international enterprise goes on, making them a key factor in

    organizational success and an important catalyst for individual and organizational

    development. In particular, the ability to learn in and through international project teams

    is seen as a key developer of a more international outlook. Project teams also help the

    organization share information, knowledge and resources across boundaries, transmit and

    recreate corporate culture, and provide examples of best practice [Helmer, 1994; Iles &

    Paromjit, 1997].

June 24-26, 2009 2

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    Similarly, project management provides an organization with powerful tools that improve the organization's ability to plan, organize, implement, and control its activities and the way it uses its people and resources.

    The need for project management arose as a result of a number of emerging

    environmental forces in modern society. Of the many emerging environmental forces involved, three feature more prominently:

    ? the growing demand for complex, sophisticated, customized goods and services; ? the exponential expansion of human knowledge; and ? intense competition among firms for profit maximization and provision of quality

    service fostered by globalization of contemporary market economy.

    This has in turn put extreme pressure on modern organizations to make their complex, customized outputs available as quickly as possible. Responses must be made faster, decisions must be made sooner and results must occur more quickly (Meredith & Mantel, 1985).

    Project management, including international project management, is not simply regarded as an interesting application of previously expounded theory, it is regarded as very much the future of management (Jackson, 1993).

    In this research article, an attempt has been made to understand the dynamics of international project management and to identify various factors, which are crucial in the context of project management across cultures. An effort has been made to understand as to how these factors affect the performance of a project across cultural, economical, and political divides in an international setting. This research article also discusses what strategies and tactics are to be adopted to render the project successful. It has been emphasized that the factors identified as crucial, must be considered by management in order to develop appropriate strategies to follow the best practice in international project management.

June 24-26, 2009 3

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9


    In today's highly competitive and global business environment, project managers face

    challenges very different from those of the recent past. Historically, project management

    has its roots in the aerospace and construction industries. A Guide to the Project

    Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOKregistered mark Guide) (PMI Standards

    Committee, 1996) gives the consensus definitions of a project as "any undertaking with a

    defined starting point and defined objectives by which completion is identified," anti "in

    practice, most projects depend on finite or limited resources by which objectives are to be

    accomplished (Yasin, 2000).

Project management serves a number of functions. The functions could be identified in

    three categories:

    1) the general project management processes: Project Integration, Strategic Planning,

    and Resource Allocation;

    2) basic project management functions: Scope Management, Quality Management,

    Time Management, and Cost Management); and

    3) integrated project management functions: Risk Management, HR Management,

    Contract Management, and Communication Management (Dinsmore, 1993; Slack,


The Fundamentals of Project Management

    The primary objective of project management is designed to meet and exceed the

    expectations of the sponsors of the project. These expectations can be categorized in three

    different ways:

    Quality- Project produces desired outcomes with minimum defects;

    Cost- The project produces desired outcome for the anticipated cost;

    Schedule- The project produces the desired outcome within the anticipated timeframe

    (Kahn, 1993).

    With that in view, the question arises as to what constitutes the factors underlying project management. Review of literature (Dinsmore, 1993) points to ten factors that form the

    June 24-26, 2009 4

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    foundation for project management, which managers have to carefully consider and

    implement in their overall project management so as to ensure its success:

    1. Concentrate on interfacing. This involves both defining frontiers and making efforts

    at bridge building amongst various areas that have interdependent relationships with

    the project in question.

    2. Organize the project team. This calls for selecting qualified team members for the

    project as well as sound management practices in so far as to ensure high level

    motivation of project team members through the appropriate incentive programs

    coupled with the increased delegation of responsibility for the team members.

    3. Plan strategically and technically. Use a top down planning approach whilst breaking

    the project down into component parts using a work break down structure or other

    project logic.

    4. Remember “Murphy's law”. According to Murphy, "If anything can go wrong, it

    will." Thus, strategies, plans and systems should be tested to ensure fail-safe


    5. Identify project stakeholders. Identify who has a stake and influence regarding project

    outcome like clients, users, managers, financiers, suppliers of technology and higher

    management, and create systems for involving and satisfying their needs and


    6. Be prepared to manage conflicts. Apply conflict management techniques: negotiate

    when interests clash, promote collaboration when talents and capabilities are

    complementary, force the issue when important principals are at stake, and finally set

    off conflict, if necessary, to realize project goals.

June 24-26, 2009 5

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    7. Expect the unexpected. Reducing the unexpected helps keep projects on track. In

    project environments, surprises can be minimized by participative planning;

    contingency allowances; use of expert opinion; and statistical comparisons with

    similar prior projects.

8. Listen to intuition as part of project decision-making. Since intuition reflects the gut

    feeling formed by the experiences logged over the years.

    9. Apply behavioral skills. This involves application of sound interpersonal skills on the

    part of project managers to influence their team members in a positive manner.

10. Follow up and take remedial action. Create a system for measuring progress, then

    estimate that progress against initial plans and take remedial action.

The Distinction between Line and Project Management

    Research by Jackson (1993) shows that many of the competencies required of project

    manager are similar in many ways to those required of line managers, there are

    nonetheless some differences. Whilst it is a truism that project managers like line

    managers do in deed work to tight schedules and for specific objectives, however, line

    management practice is predicated on a "business as usual" approach. Whereas project

    managers have a "one off" finite deadline.

Overall, project managers are expected to:

    ? Convert business objectives to project objectives;

    ? Obtain value for money through planning and controlling both physical and human

    resources over a set period of time;

    ? Integrate complex effort and multi-professional growth of people, often across

    cultural divides;

    ? Communicate with all levels of management, upward and across;

    ? React to continual change;

    ? Accelerate innovation and change;

    June 24-26, 2009 6

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    ? Restructure new teams and develop attitudes and facilitate working relationship, often

    in a very short space of time;

    ? Work with and satisfy the needs of a client (Jackson, 1993; Moder, 1988).

    Meanwhile, research by Weiss & Wysocki, (1992) shows that for a project manager to be

    effective, they would need to possess five demonstrable attributes and qualifications:

    1. Background and experience relevant to the project;

    2. Leadership and strategic expertise

    3. Technical expertise in the area of the project in order to make sound technical


    4. Interpersonal competence and the people skills to take on such roles as project

    champion, motivator, communicator, facilitator and politician; And finally

    5. Proven managerial competencies in relation to a track record of getting things


Key Determinants of Successful International Project Management

    Project management has provided a sound foundation for change management in recent

    decades - for example, in the integration and reorganization of major businesses and

    developing new initiatives between company, its customers, suppliers and partners. Even

    so, there are opportunities for making it a more effective tool. Many organizations will

    admit to having problems or issues that limit their use of project management for

    managing change (Clarke, 1995; Kahn 1993). By understanding these issues and

    working to eliminate them, it may be possible to improve the effectiveness of project


As with many managerial responsibilities, the management of an international project

    involves planning, organization and control of large number of complex factors, activities

    and their interrelations. Managing them simultaneously and giving them all equal

    attention is virtually impossible. However by adapting the Pareto rule of separating out

    the important few from the trivial many helps to focus attention on the key factors which

    are critical for achieving success (Morris, 1996).

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    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

There is ample evidence in the literature to support the existence of critical or key success

    factors for project management. Baker et al, (1983) postulated that the perceived project

    success or failure is not a function of time and cost. While Kerzner (1998) identified six

    critical success factors for successful projects that are:

    ? Corporate understanding of project management;

    ? Executive commitment to project management;

    ? Organizational adaptability;

    ? Sound project manager selection criteria;

    ? Project manager's leadership style; and

    ? Commitment to planning and control.

Meanwhile, additional research by Pinto & Slevin (1987) identified the following factors

    as being critical to the success of the projects:

    1. Project Mission. This involves determination of a clearly defined project‟s goals and

    mission by management with clear indications that the project is necessary and why;

2. Competent project manager, a skilled project leader who possesses the essential

    interpersonal, technical and administrative competencies;

3. Top Management Support. No project is likely to succeed unless it enjoys the full

    support of the senior management within the organization. Thus acquiring support for

    the project whilst communicating top management support for the project to every

    employee within the organization is critical;

    4. Project Plan. All activities surrounding the projects have to be meticulously planned

    for and the necessary resources required to carry out the project have to be fully

    allocated. As well, there have to be ways of monitoring of its progress in terms of the

    specific stage deadlines. Managers have to consider: if the plan is workable; if the

    amount of time and money, and people allocated is sufficient; if the funds are

    June 24-26, 2009 8

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    guaranteed; if the organization will carry through the project; and if there is flexibility

    in the plans allowing for over-running the schedule;

    5. Client Consultation. A detailed understanding of your client requirement is a must for

    a project manager, and thus regular meetings between client and the project manager

    are deemed necessary at all stages of the project;

6. Competent project team. Recruitment, Selection of competent staff backed by their

    training is critical in order to ensure the success of the project;

7. Technical Task. Technical skills have to be matched with the right people in terms of

    qualifications and expertise;

    8. Client Acceptance. Gaining acceptance from one‟s client for any given project is

    critical. Thus a project manager needs to develop a sound selling strategy at an early

    phase of the project in order to sell the project to the client. Developing good

    interpersonal relationship with client is deemed necessary so that project manager can

    negotiate with the client where appropriate (Jackson 1992);

    9. Monitoring and Feedback. Obtaining feedback throughout the project from key

    individuals is necessary to ensure quality outcome for the project. This obviously

    involves establishing sound monitoring procedures to capture a systematic feedback

    on all aspects of the project;

10. Communication. The concept of communication in project management refers to the

    spoken and written documentation, plans, and drawings used in the processes of an

    international project.

    11. Trouble Shooting Mechanisms. A system or set of set of procedures capable of

    tackling problems when they arise, trace them back to the their root cause and resolve

    them. All team members should act as “look-outs” for project, and all team members

    June 24-26, 2009 9

    St. Hugh‟s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

2009 Oxford Business & Economics Conference Program ISBN : 978-0-9742114-1-9

    should monitor the project, and when a problem is identified by a team member,

    action needs to be taken at once to remedy the problem (Jackson 1992).

    Rosenau (1984) suggested that the essence of successful project management consisted of satisfying the triple constraints of time, cost and performance.

    One of the most important findings arising from the preliminary literature survey is that the factors expounded could not explain the reasons why the project could be considered as successful by one party and at the same time be considered a failure by another. However, it is argued that there are two possible viewpoints of project success: the macro viewpoint, which takes care of the question "does the original concept tick?” The users and stakeholders who are usually the ones looking at project success from the macro viewpoint. The micro viewpoint usually concerns the implementation parties (Lim & Mohammed, 1999).

Best Practice in Project Management

    Research by Pfeiffer (1994) shows that other things being equal, utilization of best practice can lead to competitive advantage for a firm and/or project management. Best practice means adopting managerial practices of most successful organizations and/or through benchmarking.

    Given increasing application of projects world wide, it becomes necessary to understand the project management system and consider its unique attributes within the international setting. It is within this framework that the best practices for international project management are required to be developed (Smith & Haar, 1993). Thus, the important factors, critical for success and therefore, they needed to be considered for adopting the best practice in project management, are described below.

Conceptualization and Initiation

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