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Megaproject management and leadership: a narrative analysis of life stories – past and present

Megaproject management and leadership: a narrative analysis of life stories – past and present PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to glean leadership lessons of megaproject managers through the life stories of four purposefully selected managers from two contemporary and two landmark megaprojects.Design/methodology/approachA narrative inquiry approach applying thematic analysis is used to capture lessons learnt from these stories with a focus on leading megaprojects. Narrative analysis has been used in organization studies and this paper is an attempt to use it in project management research.FindingsCommon strategies used by all four megaproject managers to be successful include: selecting the right people and building their capability; building trust with stakeholders; dealing with institutional power and politics effectively; and having the courage to innovate. There were also some differences in the approaches used by these managers due the times in which these projects were implemented.Research limitations/implicationsThe use of narrative inquiry is new to project management literature. As the life stories were not presented in the same way it was difficult to analyze them in the same manner, and further data had to be collected. This could have been avoided if it were feasible to collect narratives directly from the megaproject managers. This is being planned in future research emerging from this paper.Practical implicationsThis study helps megaproject managers to exhibit leadership attributes that would be required to execute such large complex projects that have wide implications for the society, economy and the environment.Social implicationsMegaprojects are often considered major displacements that cause social and geophysical issues that affect the environment. Lessons learnt from these stories could be useful to avoid such issues. The stories analyzed showed the human side of the megaproject managers toward people related, health and societal issues.Originality/valueNarrative inquiry is new to project management literature. In the past, project management literature has focused on extracting lessons learnt from historical and classical projects, but lessons from life stories of project managers have not been used for the same purpose. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Managing Projects in Business Emerald Publishing

Megaproject management and leadership: a narrative analysis of life stories – past and present

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1753-8378
DOI
10.1108/IJMPB-07-2017-0081
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to glean leadership lessons of megaproject managers through the life stories of four purposefully selected managers from two contemporary and two landmark megaprojects.Design/methodology/approachA narrative inquiry approach applying thematic analysis is used to capture lessons learnt from these stories with a focus on leading megaprojects. Narrative analysis has been used in organization studies and this paper is an attempt to use it in project management research.FindingsCommon strategies used by all four megaproject managers to be successful include: selecting the right people and building their capability; building trust with stakeholders; dealing with institutional power and politics effectively; and having the courage to innovate. There were also some differences in the approaches used by these managers due the times in which these projects were implemented.Research limitations/implicationsThe use of narrative inquiry is new to project management literature. As the life stories were not presented in the same way it was difficult to analyze them in the same manner, and further data had to be collected. This could have been avoided if it were feasible to collect narratives directly from the megaproject managers. This is being planned in future research emerging from this paper.Practical implicationsThis study helps megaproject managers to exhibit leadership attributes that would be required to execute such large complex projects that have wide implications for the society, economy and the environment.Social implicationsMegaprojects are often considered major displacements that cause social and geophysical issues that affect the environment. Lessons learnt from these stories could be useful to avoid such issues. The stories analyzed showed the human side of the megaproject managers toward people related, health and societal issues.Originality/valueNarrative inquiry is new to project management literature. In the past, project management literature has focused on extracting lessons learnt from historical and classical projects, but lessons from life stories of project managers have not been used for the same purpose.

Journal

International Journal of Managing Projects in BusinessEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 5, 2018

References