IPMA International Project Management Association
31 January 2019 / 9:00

“Project Management and its impact on societies” – about the 6th IPMA Research Conference in Rio de Janeiro

It was a rather ambitious goal for the 6h IPMA Research Conference on 2-3 September 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 60 Project Management practitioners and researchers wanted to develop nothing less than a better understanding for the various impacts of the increasing diffusion of projects as the new form of organisation not only in all areas of business. The global trend of “Projectification” that comprises all areas of life is ubiquitous. Today the methods, tools and technics from project management are taken over and are applied in sectors like pub­lic administration, politics, defence, education, health, sports, but also in private life. This phenomenon is increasingly called “Project Society”.

The scope of the IPMA Research Conference 2018 was to explore the consequences of the global trend of increasing project work for the various societies. In times of increasing automatisation and digitalisation of the standard line processes in organisations, more and more people work in projects to real­ize the strategies of the executives, to create innovations and further develop these ideas into new products and services, to develop marketing campaigns or to improve internal processes in organisations. Employment contracts are becoming increasingly limited to the duration of a project. This seems to give greater flexibility both to the employer and the employee. Long-term or even life-long employment will become an exception. But what does this projectification development mean for the individual, for organisations and for societies? The 2018 IPMA Research Conference aimed to define answers to these urgent questions.

To achieve a better understanding about the impacts of the development towards a project society, participants from Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Croatia, Poland, Russia, China, Australia, South Africa and Germany spent two days discussing and analysing the different facets of project management in diverse formats.

The opening keynote presentations from Beata Jalocha on “The story of projectfication – past, present and an outlook on its future development”, Darci Prado on “the importance of projects in Brazilian society”, Clayton Jones on “the challenges of public projects and the impacts on society and Marly Monteiro about “the evolution of project management and the impact on societies” already showed the diverse facets of the impact of projects for our societies worldwide.

The afternoon session consisted of four academic streams: Stream 1 “Value creation through projects/ project management for the society” started with a presentation from Haukur Ingi Jonason and Helgi Thor Ingason about “Project Pedagogy to Projectify and Mobilise a “Fragile“ Municipality” where they report about the experiment of teaching project management to citizens in an economically fragile Icelandic village. Genevieve Marquise lead though a literature overview about the “The Value Creation Target of Project Management for Innovation” and Alexandre C. Pinto, showed with “Building capacities through digital trans­formation using scenario-based PPM” a concept for the new required competencies.  

The second stream “Consequence of the global projectification trend for individuals, organisations and societies” lead by Marly Monteiro consisted of a presentation from Isabel Ortiz about “The impact of projectification on managers and team members: main challenges and difficulties” where she represents the results from a study about the new challenges of projectification on the individual project managers. I myself showed in “Light and shadows of Projectification for the Societies” the bright and dark sides of the ongoing trend of projectification to the various members in the societies. Timo Braun analysed in “Project Management: on the rise to a full profession?” if project management has already become a professional occupation.

The third stream “Public administration based on transparent project governance structures” was facilitated by myself and contained presentations from Stanislaw Gasik who designed in “Developing Governmental Project Management Ca­pability with Use of Maturity Model” a model for measuring the Project Management maturity of governments, from Alexander Tovb who presented in “Project-Oriented Management in the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Of Russian Federation — Experience of Analysis” his experiences from introducing Project Management in a Russian ministry office, and from Reinhard Wagner who showed in “Towards an IPMA National Project Management Maturity Model” the draft for a new national PM maturity measurement model.

The fourth stream “Status of projectification in different societies” was facilitated by Timo Braun and consisted of the presentations from Beata Jalocha who analysed in “How to projectify a country? The impact of the European Union on the projectification of the Polish public sector” the consequences of the many projects that followed with the entrance of Poland in the European Union, from Helgi Thor Ingason who analysed in “Projectification in Iceland measured” two different approaches of quantitative macroeconomic measurement of projectification and by Luiz Rocha who showed in “Implementing Excellence in Social and Humanitarian Organizations” how project management can make a difference in humanitarian projects.

The first day was coronated by the solemn hand-over of the prestigious annual IPMA Research Awards. The IPMA Research Award honours researchers for a particular research project in which where cutting edge research is achieved. The Young Researcher Award 2018 went to Taryn Jane Bond-Barnard from South Africa for her Ph.D. thesis on “Project communication, trust, collaboration and success: A structural equation model and the influence of computer mediated communication”. The IPMA Researcher Award 2018 went to Prof. Timo Braun and Prof. Jörg Sydow from FU Berlin, Germany for their project “Building inter-firm networks within and across projects”, the IPMA Research Achievement Award 2018 for lifetime contribution to Project Management research was finally given to Prof. Derek Walker from RMIT Melbourne, Australia.

The second day consisted of presentations on the continuous national projectification measurement studies in Croatia, Italy, South Africa, Brazil and China. A major finding in all five countries was that intercultural differences play a major role in international research studies. These differences make it almost impossible to take over an existing research methodology that proved to work well in one country. This aspect must be taken into account in greater depth in all international research projects.

A further interesting source of inspiration was the systemic constellation workshop. Systemic constellations are a form of working with issues within human systems. Developed by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist, they originally focused on family systems to disclose the forces that unconsciously influence thoughts, behaviours and emotions. This systemic approach is today applied also in other human systems as organisations and societies. Systemic Constellations workshops explore new ways for understanding relationships and giving new options to resolve complex problems. The participants got new insights about the various impacts of the increased application of projects on the different stakeholders in the societies.

Finally the IPMA Research conference finished with a World Café session. In four rounds the participants discussed the questions “what are the opportunities of the increasing projectification for the societies?”, “What are the threats of the increasing projectification?”, “What are the prerequisites for successful projectified societies?” and “Is projectification different in emerging, developing and developed economies?”

The 6th IPMA Research conference represented a good overview of the various aspects of projectification as a new overlap between sociology, macro-economy, organisational behaviour sciences and project man­agement. The fact that “projects and societies” is a track at the next EURAM (European Academy of Management) conference in June 2019 in Lisbon shows that it is a starting point for a new scientific direction in project management.

All presented papers are for the first time published in an IPMA conference publication. You can get free access to this 6th IPMA Research Conference publication under: http://products.ipma.world/ipma-product/project-management-impact-societies/

I herewith want to thank all those who supported and made this conference possible. Starting with the local hosts in Rio de Janeiro, the team of Raphael Albergarias, all participants of the Research Conference, all paper authors for their contributions and finally to IPMA for making these unique IPMA Research Conferences possible!

Berlin, January 2019

Yvonne Schoper

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Yvonne Schoper

Author of this post

Dr. Yvonne Schoper is Professor for International Project Management at HTW University of Applied Sciences Berlin.
Dr. Schoper holds a BSc in Engineering Management, an MSc International Business and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering.
She worked as a project manager for BMW where she was responsible for several international automotive development projects in USA and in Germany.
Since 2009 she is associate Professor for Project Management at the Tongji University in Shanghai (China).
Her research interests are intercultural project management, future trends in project management, women in project management and the further development of the profession of project managers.
From 2012-2015 she was Executive Board member of GPM Germany where she was responsible for research. Since 2015 she is the delegate of Germany at IPMA´s Council of Delegates. Since 2016 she is member of the Presidential Advisory Board of GPM.