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Reconciling order and chaos in multi‐project firms

Reconciling order and chaos in multi‐project firms Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the key findings of a doctoral thesis aimed at exploring how multi‐project companies reconcile order (efficiency, control, clarity) and chaos (creativity, trust, uncertainty, ambiguity). Design/methodology/approach – The research was focused on multi‐project firms in general and CoPS (Complex Products and Systems) producers in particular (companies involved usually as main contractors in construction and engineering projects). It followed three phases: Exploratory phase (literature review and interviews), Conceptualisation phase (abductive elaboration of the model based on field and longitudinal studies in a multi‐project firm), and Validation phase (deductive validation of the model through multi‐case study). Findings – The thesis proposes a model to map order and chaos of companies, departments, projects or people based on the complexity faced by the tasks and the flexibility of the organizational structure to deal with it. The analysis of how departments moved in this map led to several findings, such as in the case of mis‐balance, higher flexibility is preferable to excessive control. Practical implications – The model provides project practitioners with a tool to evaluate and make sense of the degree of necessary project flexibility, and how this can and should change across the project and disciplines. Originality/value – This paper assists practitioners and academics to reflect on organisational structures of multi‐project companies, how these vary over time and how to avoid the bureaucratisation or the chaotification of structures. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Managing Projects in Business Emerald Publishing

Reconciling order and chaos in multi‐project firms

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1753-8378
DOI
10.1108/17538370910930572
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the key findings of a doctoral thesis aimed at exploring how multi‐project companies reconcile order (efficiency, control, clarity) and chaos (creativity, trust, uncertainty, ambiguity). Design/methodology/approach – The research was focused on multi‐project firms in general and CoPS (Complex Products and Systems) producers in particular (companies involved usually as main contractors in construction and engineering projects). It followed three phases: Exploratory phase (literature review and interviews), Conceptualisation phase (abductive elaboration of the model based on field and longitudinal studies in a multi‐project firm), and Validation phase (deductive validation of the model through multi‐case study). Findings – The thesis proposes a model to map order and chaos of companies, departments, projects or people based on the complexity faced by the tasks and the flexibility of the organizational structure to deal with it. The analysis of how departments moved in this map led to several findings, such as in the case of mis‐balance, higher flexibility is preferable to excessive control. Practical implications – The model provides project practitioners with a tool to evaluate and make sense of the degree of necessary project flexibility, and how this can and should change across the project and disciplines. Originality/value – This paper assists practitioners and academics to reflect on organisational structures of multi‐project companies, how these vary over time and how to avoid the bureaucratisation or the chaotification of structures.

Journal

International Journal of Managing Projects in BusinessEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 23, 2009

Keywords: Organizational structures; Project management; Strategic alignment

References