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8th March 2018 at 6:00 pm

Major Projects are Paradoxes Evening Discussion

Discussion meeting

Major Projects contain paradoxes and it could be argued that for them to become capable organisations they need to juggle seemingly conflicting features such as:

• Change and stability
• Routine and non-routine
• Newness and repetition
• Interdependence and independence

This discussion evening will present three pieces of PhD research which uncover different aspects of this paradoxical nature of major projects.

Angela Bond from Cranfield will present her work on managerial work in temporary organisations which explores the highly-situated and holistic job of managing in major projects. She considers major projects as temporary configurations of evolving practices, and managerial work as being aimed at ensuring the practices work together to deliver the task for which project has been created. As practices overlap and evolve, some cohering and others competing, the challenge of managerial work is making sure they keep working together sufficiently in the same direction.

Simon Addyman from UCL will look at how the perceived temporary nature of major project organisations has led to them being traditionally structured around a sequential, staged, life cycle model. Yet as organising through projects becomes both more prevalent and challenging, it could be argued that such a model constrains our understanding and representation of what ‘actually’ happens beyond these deterministic structures. Simon’s research focuses on understanding organisational capability through the concept of ‘transition’, looking at how a major project moves from the ‘definition’ to the ‘delivery’ stage. It seeks to identify how the time bound nature of projects influences project capability through the (re)creation of organisational routines.

And finally, Sian Thomas of Tideway who is studying at Cranfield will discuss her current work exploring collaboration between teams. Key for major projects and temporary organisations is the multiple teams brought together to deliver from different organizations. Whilst there is much written about the organization of them, integration of teams and relationship contracting, few authors have considered collaboration at the inter-team level. Sian’s work explores what inter-team action occurs and the factors of influence to understand how that takes place or may change as project focus adjusts over time.

This will be an interactive evening chaired by Tideway CEO – Andy Mitchell - where delegates will have an opportunity to explore these issues with Angela, Simon and Sian over drinks and canapes.


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