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Dissertation: Project management effectiveness in different organizational conditions

Irja Hyväri's thesis studies the most significant critical success factors in effective project management in different organizational conditions. Companies are increasingly using projects in their daily work to achieve company goals.

In recent years researchers have become increasingly interested in factors that may have an impact on project management effectiveness and the success of projects. However, there is little research that shows how effectively projects are managed in a business organizational context. This study aims to partly fill this gap by presenting results from a case study and surveys of business organizations practicing project management.

The purpose of the first article – the management of two investment projects and changes in project management over a 10-year period – is to investigate and analyze the status and significance of investment management systems in the implementation of partnership investment projects. The case study focused on two air gas plant projects, OKSO and NiCu, conducted as partnership projects by Oy Aga Ab and Outokumpu Oy/Outkokumpu Harjavalta Metals Oy. The projects were carried out over a 10-year period. Project analysis showed that factors in the OKSO and NiCu projects corresponded with factors in the study's framework, identified through recent study. According to project success estimates, these projects avoided certain conventional failures.

On the basis of empirical observations, it can be said that it is important that project managers have a firm grasp of project management and especially of contracts and contract technique. Experience, especially in the management of change, was perceived to be a significant factor in project success. In managing projects, it is important to know how to handle both the tools and the people and to achieve a balance between the two. Matters pertaining to the partnership projects were agreed beforehand and in writing. An arbitrator to handle cases of dispute was also assigned in advance. In the future, more attention should be given to resource planning, the earned value method, communication networks and the making of contracts. The results gained show the perspective and initial importance ranking of different skills and knowledge areas of project management.

The second article examines project management effectiveness in project-oriented business organizations. The aim of the study is to investigate the effectiveness of project management in terms of organizational structures, technical competency, leadership ability and the characteristics of an effective project manager. The subjects of this survey were modern project-oriented business companies. The results indicate that organizational design is associated with project management effectiveness. For example, they indicate that project matrix and project team-based organizations are the most effective. Moreover, respondents are reasonably satisfied with the currently available selection of project management tools, yet the need was stated for a multi-project management tool. The characteristics of an effective project manager were measured by means of leadership behavior in 14 managerial practices. The results suggest that planning/organizing, networking and informing are the most significant managerial practices in the leadership behavior of project managers. This study provides empirical evidence of project management effectiveness with the intent of contributing to a better understanding and improvement of project management practices.

The third article documents the success of projects in different organizational conditions. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the critical success/failure factors in project management and to examine the relationships between critical success factors and organizational background variables. This study also aims to gain an understanding of how project clients, owners and sponsors present their needs and expectations to ensure project success. On the basis of the survey responses received, it is possible to identify critical success factors in project management that are significantly related to company/organization size, project size, organization type and project managers’ work experience. The project implementation profile is also analyzed on average and by phases. The results indicate the importance of project communication that is related to company size, however. In contrast to some prior studies, communication was ranked the highest in most project phases.

Terhi Ollikainen | alfa
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