Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how individuals in projects learn from crises. Design/methodology/approach – The multiple‐case protocol described by Yin and his six sources of evidence were utilized. Observations were contemporaneous and somewhere between direct and participative. Bias was avoided by having the observer on site, but not part of the project team. A diary recorded events; company notes and records substantiated observations. Findings – The study contributes to the understanding of the need that project managers have to adapt to changes from plan and the coincidental learning that occurs in the workplace. Both cumulative and abrupt crises treated by project/site teams and corporate staff are described. A necessary and sufficiency approach was used to rationalize the organizational learning. The necessary condition was that the episodes could be described in terms used by Gherardi in her treatment of routine learning. As a sufficiency condition, the authors discussed the systemic approach in which these episodes are handled. Research limitations/implications – Because research was built on case studies, one has the reservations commonly associated with this approach. Extension from and agreement with previous studies, however, lend to acceptance of the study. Practical implications – Results suggest that crises can be managed in accordance with four general responses associated with learning within the organization. The responses themselves are associated with five organizational practices that aid management in general. Originality/value – The value of the work is that it extends basic concepts of organizational learning to treating crises in projects, which are both by definition unique.
International Journal of Managing Projects in Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 5, 2011
Keywords: Project management; Learning organizations
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