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  • 1er Congrs International en Management et Gestion des projets, Gatineau, (Qubec), Canada, 2011

    Value or Vise? Project Management Implementation at a Canadian Research Institute

    Thomas Mengel, PhD, PMP; Renaissance College, University of New Brunswick1


    Malgr le nombre grandissant de publications sur limplmentation de la gestion de projet et sa

    valeur pour les organisations, il y a peu dtudes de cas explorant la valeur de limplmentation

    de la gestion de projet dans le contexte particulier des instituts de recherche. Cette tude de cas

    explore la faon dont la mise en place dune gestion de projet a volue dans un institut de

    recherche fdral Canadien en comparant les premires tapes de limplmentation formelle

    (2007) ltat actuel (2010). Plus particulirement, cet article prsente lapproche slectionne

    par linstitut pour faire face aux dfis spcifiques et aux avantages quun institut de recherche

    peut rencontrer lors de limplmentation de la gestion de projet. En conclusion, cet article

    contribuera mieux comprendre la valeur de la gestion de projet pour les instituts de recherche.

    Mots cls : Gestion de projet; recherche; implmentation; valeur; tude de cas; Canada


    While the number of publications about project management implementation and its value for

    organizations in general has increased, there is a lack of case studies exploring the value of

    project management implementation within the particular context of research institutions. This

    case study investigates how the implementation of project management has evolved at a

    Canadian Federal research institute by comparing the early stages of its first formal

    implementation (2007) with the more recent status (2010). Particularly, the paper will discuss the 1 The author wishes to acknowledge the support of the case study organization to this project. Without the help of the management and employees of this organization this study would not have been possible.

  • Institutes approach to coping with the specific challenges and opportunities an organization

    focusing on research might face when implementing project management. As a result, this paper

    will contribute to better understanding the value of project management for research institutions.

    Keywords: project management; research; implementation; value; case study; Canada


    Various publications have discussed researching and quantifying the value of project

    management (Thomas & Mullaly, 2008; Ibbs & Reginato, 2002). Many case studies have been

    published substantiating the claim that implementing project management does create value for

    the organization (Aubry, Mller, Hobbs, & Blomquist, 2010; Cicmil, orevi, & Zivanovic,

    2009; Crawford & Helm, 2009; Eskerod & Riis, 2009; Mengel, Cowan-Sahadath, & Follert,

    2009; Turner, Ledwith, & Kelly, 2010; Zhai, Xin, & Cheng, 2009). However, there is a lack of

    studies in the specific context of research institutions exploring in depth and over time what

    particular challenges this kind of organization may have faced and how the organization might

    have responded to these challenges when implementing project management. This case study

    investigates how a Canadian Federal research institution has adapted project management to

    meet their specific needs and how the implementation of project management has evolved over

    time by comparing the early stages of its first formal implementation (2007) with the current

    status (2010). It will discuss the means and results of increasing the value of project management

    for this research organization. Thus it will contribute to better understanding the evolving value

    of project management for research organizations as well as the key determinants of this process.

  • Methodology

    This case study a Canadian Federal research institution is a result of a research project that

    the researcher has conducted at the Institute as guest researcher to assess the value of project

    management to the organization (organizational benchmarking) and to also contribute the

    collected data to the larger Researching the Value of Project Management project (Thomas &

    Mullaly, 2008). To be consistent with the approach of this larger research project, this case study

    has applied the same tools and approaches of quantitative and qualitative data collection that

    have been developed for and used within the context of the Researching the Value of Project

    Management project. In particular, all employees of the case study organization have been

    invited to participate in surveys and interviews; furthermore, the researcher has engaged in

    organizational data collection and observation of project management practices. This approach

    has been applied twice to allow for a longitudinal study of the evolving project management

    implementation and its value at this research institute. The first set data was collected between

    April and August 2008; a follow-up study using the same approach was conducted between

    September and November 2010.

    The overall research approach was based on the understanding that details around the

    implementation of project management in any given organization (rationale, timeline,

    methodology, results) were paramount. Furthermore, in trying to explore what has actually

    changed in that organization and why, the research methodology needs to include asking

    individuals within the organization as well as observing what is and relating this to theories of

    organization and organizational change. In particular, project management implementation

    within an individual organization needs to be understood within the context of the organizations

  • strategy and environment (Construct of Project Management Implementation). Furthermore, the

    impact of project management implementation on the delivery of projects needs to be qualified

    further (Construct of Organizational Context). Finally, the real benefit of project management

    implementation to the overall organization needs to be identified and better understood (Value

    Constructs) (Thomas & Mullaly, 2008).

    Figure 1 from (Thomas & Mullaly, 2008, p. 25)

    The results of the rich data collection approach in regard to the value of project management

    (implementation) are being discussed within the framework of the following five levels (Thomas

    & Mullaly, 2008, p. 37f.):

  • perceived satisfaction of various stakeholders with the organizations project management


    aligned use of practices: the fit between what is being talked about, what is documented and

    what is actually being done,

    process outcomes and improvements gained through project management implementation,

    depending on the nature of the organization various business outcomes can be identified and

    qualified, and

    return on investment.

    Furthermore this study investigates the connection and correlation between project and

    organizational performance on one side, and the level of support for the discovery of meaning in

    the various dimensions of working environments, as well as the level of meaning actually

    discovered and actualized, on the other. Based on Frankls categories of meaning and the

    actualization of valuescreational, experiential, and attitudinal values (Frankl, 1988)data

    have been collected and interpreted in pursuit of the following questions:

    Which areas and elements of the project management context (e.g., infrastructure and tools,

    practices, people, training) support the discovery and actualization of meaning, and in which

    of the following manners do they do so?

    In the creative aspects of work in and around projects (e.g., creating products, services, and

    processes that are perceived as being meaningful)?

    In the experiential aspects of project work (e.g., experiencing relationships with others that

    are perceived as fulfilling)?

  • In the attitudinal aspects within project environments (e.g., mastering challenges by

    reframing ones perspectives)?

    In which aspects of project work (creative, experiential, and attitudinal), and how and to what

    extent do project stakeholders discover and actualize meaning in project environments?

    To what extent and how does a meaningful project management context (meaningful work,

    experiences, and attitudes) contribute to increased project or organizational performance?

    Finally, content analysis (Krippendorff, 2004; Weber, 1990) will be used to identify potential

    additional themes and to triangulate the results within the context of value of project

    management and meaningful work.

    Description of the Case and Data Collection

    Description of the Case

    This Canadian research organization is mandated by the Federal government and has several

    sites in various Canadian cities in different provinces. The institute employs several hundred

    people (mostly highly educated researchers, technology relations officers, and other support

    staff, administrational staff, and management). As a research institute, it is competing with other

    research organizations across the globe as well as on a national level; federal funding is

    distributed among the various research areas and organizations based on how well each institute