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The project manager and the organisation's long-term competence goal

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This paper presents empirical results from a study that aims to increase our understanding of the project manager's involvement in competence management in larger Swedish project-oriented organisations. Projects are today the predominant way of performing work. Organisations are also paying more attention to competence as competitive advantage. However, the logical interrelated connection between these two fields is still not understood. This study adopted a post-positivistic perspective starting with a qualitative step with in-depth interviews followed by a quantitative web survey. The major contributions are the framework that constitutes human resource management (HRM) competence management practices related to projects followed by the importance of project managers' involvement in the company's long-term goal in terms of competence. For researchers, these findings contribute to integrating project management into the HRM field. For practitioners, there is a need to review the project manager's participation in competence management.
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The project manager and the organisation's long-term
competence goal
Rolf Medina
a,
, Alicia Medina
b
a
SKEMA Business School, Lille Campus, Avenue Willy Brandt, 59777 Euralille, France
b
Umeå School of Business, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Received 10 July 2013; received in revised form 21 February 2014; accepted 25 February 2014
Available online 20 March 2014
Abstract
This paper presents empirical results from a study that aims to increase our understanding of the project manager's involvement in competence
management in larger Swedish project-oriented organisations. Projects are today the predominant way of performing work. Organisations are also
paying more attention to competence as competitive advantage. However, the logical interrelated connection between these two elds is still not
understood.
This study adopted a post-positivistic perspective starting with a qualitative step with in-depth interviews followed by a quantitative web survey.
The major contributions are the framework that constitutes human resource management (HRM) competence management practices related to
projects followed by the importance of project managers' involvement in the company's long-term goal in terms of competence.
For researchers, these ndings contribute to integrating project management into the HRM eld. For practitioners, there is a need to review the
project manager's participation in competence management.
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Project management; HRM; Competence management; Managing individual development
1. Introduction
Companies are carrying out an increasing number of activities
using projects as the organisational form. They are also
establishing more complex matrix organisations with different
areas of responsibility for different organisational entities, at least
in organisations of a considerable size. Projects as such constitute
temporary organisations connected to a parent organisation
(Engwall, 2001; Söderlund and Bredin, 2006; Turner and Müller,
2003).
Furthermore, in companies that reinvest a significant part of
their turnover in the development of services, processes, products,
etc., the competence of the employees is one of the most valuable
assets. In line with the resource-based view of the firm, the
organisation's ability to manage and develop competence is one of
the success factors for the company and for its competitive
advantage (Ulrich, 1991; Wright et al., 1994). This kind of
company uses projects as an organisational form to develop
products, services, processes and marketing activities (Bredin and
Söderlund, 2006; Turner et al., 2008).
What differentiates project-oriented organisations from
other kinds of organisations?
Whitley's (2006, p. 78) answer to this question is: in such
project-based organisations (PBOs), the knowledge, capabilities,
and resources of the firm are built up through the execution of
major projects. These kinds of organisations differ from other
ways of organising highly skilled workers dealing with complex
problems in their concern to create novel outputs by integrating
varied forms of expertise in fixed time periods.
If the situation is that companies are increasingly carrying out
work in projects, how do they secure long-term competence
Corresponding author at: Regementsgatan 11, 217 53 Malmö, Sweden. Tel.: +46
706 110784.
E-mail addresses: rolf@medina.se (R. Medina), alicia@medina.se
(A. Medina).
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International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
development? How then can they align project management
and strategic competence management to reach competitive
advantage?
Söderlund and Bredin (2006) enforced the idea that project
operations need adaptive and efficient human resource manage-
ment (HRM). The coexistence of the temporary organisation with
the parent organisation creates problems in terms of HRM
practices. One of those problems is the utilisation of people based
on their current competence without taking into consideration the
new skill sets that the assignment might give them (Goodman and
Goodman, 1976). Laakso-Manninen and Viitala (2007) point out
core competencies as the link between competence management
and competence based HRM and that a company's competitive
advantage resides in its core competencies.
Furthermore, the project manager's responsibilities are limited
to the time frame of the project and do not include competence
management in the long term (Turner, 1999).
The project manager plays a role in HRM practices in
project-oriented organisations but the role is not clear (Keegan
et al., 2012).
We carried out a study in Sweden to increase the understanding
of the project manager's role in competence management
connected to the parent organisation and the consequences of the
current degree of involvement.
This gave the following research questions:
What is the project manager's degree of involvement in
competence management in Swedish project-oriented
organisations?
How does the current degree of involvement affect the
company's competence goal?
The unit of analysis is the project managers' involvement in
competence management.
This paper summarises the work of a study starting with a
qualitative step with in-depth interviews followed by a quanti-
tative study in Swedish project-oriented organisations using a
web-based questionnaire.
The next section of the paper reviews the previous research
literature considering strategic competence management from
different perspectives, both from a traditional HRM perspective
and from the perspective of project-oriented organisations.
2. Literature review and hypotheses
The literature review is divided into four parts: the first part
reflects on the literature about competence, the second part
reviews the literature within the HRM practices area followed by
the connection between competence and HRM practices and the
final section concerns how HRM competence management is
handled in project-oriented organisations.
Surprisingly, when examining the previous research in the
area, there is no uniform definition of competence. Competence
is also often mixed with competency (Vazirani, 2010). Delamare
Le Deist and Winterton (2005) stated that it is impossible to
identify or find a coherent theory or definition capable of
reconciling all the different ways in which the term competence is
used.
In line with Crawford (2007), we use the following definition
of competence: the knowledge and skills achieved and the ability
to apply them.
At the organisational level, companies often refer to their core
competencies. Hamel and Prahalad (1994) defined the term as
capabilities that are critical to a business achieving competitive
advantage.
In addition, core competencies link both to the company's past
and to its future, but it is easier to evaluate and describe already
existing and operational competencies than not yet existing but
needed ones (Laakso-Manninen and Viitala, 2007).
To outperform the competition in the long run and achieve
sustained competitive advantage in the market, the organisa-
tion needs to define its core competencies (Clardy, 2008;
Laakso-Manninen and Viitala, 2007). This connects core
competences to human resources as a source of sustained
competitive advantage, which is crucial for the company's
success.
Berio and Harzallah (2005) viewed competence management
as a way for the organisation to manage the competencies on the
corporation, group and individual levels. The primary goal of
competence management is to define, and continuously maintain,
the competencies according to the goals of the organisation.
Laakso-Manninen and Viitala (2007) further developed this when
they emphasised that competence management covers all the
appropriate activities that foster, develop, regenerate and produce
the kinds of competencies required by the company's strategy.
Another aspect is that individual learning does not necessarily
lead to organisational learning, but it is hardly possible to have
organisational learning without individual learning (Love et al.,
2005). This leads us to the importance of connecting competence
management on the strategic level to how competence is handled
on an individual level.
Berio and Harzallah (2005) developed a four-step competence
management model that comprises competence identification,
competence assessment, competence acquisition and competence
usage. In their model, they linked individual competence with the
objectives the company aims to achieve. They also brought in
aspects such as the method of assessment and utilisation of the
competence. The work of Bartram (2012) developed this and
highlighted different aspects of competence planning, connecting
them to the competence goal. These aspects are presented in
Table 2-1.
Competence management at the strategic level is undertaken
by mapping core competencies with the current competencies
in the organisation, bridging the gap between them and using
the competencies in accordance with the company's objectives
(Bartram, 2012; Berio and Harzallah, 2005).
In addition to this, Huemann et al. (2004) highlighted in their
study on project-oriented companies a change in these companies
through a competence approach. They introduced career
development into a project context and as part of competence
management. This is in line with Ruderman and Ohlott's (1994)
work and the empirical evidence that they found about career
promotions being part of competence development and even a
1460 R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
tool for the long-term competence goal of the company. They
called this method of managing career development develop-
mental promotions.
Table 2-1 presents a summary of the constituting parameters
of the long-term competence goal, which are competence
utilisation, competence planning and career development.
What is HRM?
HRM consists of the organisational activities aiming to manage
the pool of human capital and ensure that the human resources are
used to fulfil the organisational goals (Wright et al., 1994). A later
definition comes from Boxall and Purcell (2010):an inevitable
process that accompanies the growth of organisations.
Furthermore, Ulrich (1991) emphasised that HRM can be used
by organisations to differentiate themselves from their compet-
itors. Söderlund (2005) narrowed this down to competence and
stated that successful companies are those that have the ability to
develop unique and inimitable competence.
During the last six decades the area has evolved, leading to a
change in the aspect that HR work focuses on, starting with
mainly personnel aspects, such as contractual issues, moving to
the human soft aspects, advancing to be involved in the business
and organisational aspects and reaching the current situation in
which companies consider HRM as a strategic area that brings
competitive advantage. The aspects of this evolution are
summarised in Fig. 2-1.
Along with the evolution presented in Fig. 2-1,HRMtoday
covers a vast array of activities and shows a large variety of
practices across different organisations and companies (Boxall et
al., 2007).
Appendix A presents a summary of classifications of HRM
practices based on Guest (1997),Paauwe and Richardson (1997)
and Sheppeck and Militello (2000).
Having presented a definition of competence and some of the
relevant classifications for HRM practices, we now explain the
relation between these two areas.
Shih and Chiang (2003) made a connection between core
competences, HRM practices and corporate strategy, and
highlighted the need to design HRM practices to fit the desired
employee competence. The HRM practices that they pointed out
as core competencies are recruiting and promotion, training and
development, performance appraisal and compensation systems.
Based on their work, we link competence management to
HRM practices and position HRM competence management
practices as a subset of HRM practices. The four practices that
can be linked to HRM competence management practices are
presented in Table 2-2 together with descriptions of them from
a project context perspective.
How is HRM competence management handled in project-
oriented organisations?
The importance of projects and project-based forms of
organisation has grown during the last decades and will continue
to increase (Söderlund, 2005; Whitley, 2006). This growth raises
several questions and in relation to this study the following
questions can be asked: If the number of projects has increased
and will continue to increase, how will HRM practices be adapted
to an environment in which a considerable part of the business
operation is performed in projects managed by project managers?
Could competence management be handled in a more predictable
way if HRM practices better support projects as an organisational
structure in which a considerable part of the work is conducted?
Will these HRM adaptions imply a new evolutionary aspect of
HRM, as presented in Fig. 2-1?
Turner et al. (2008) addressed these questions by stating that
project-oriented organisations adopt temporary organisations and
temporary work processes. Due to the nature of temporariness,
they proposed new HRM practices for projects as well as changes
in the currently line-oriented HRM practices.
They proposed the following new HRM practices aligned
with project environments: assignment to projects, assessing
performance on projects, development in projects, reward of
Table 2-1
Summary of the constituting parameters of the long-term competence goal.
Competence goal Cited by
Competence
utilisation
Competence usage, i.e. how to use the information or knowledge about the competencies produced and transformed by identification,
assessment and acquisition processes; for instance, how to identify gaps between required and acquired competencies, who should attend
the required training, how to find key employees (i.e. holding key competencies) and so on.
Berio and
Harzallah
(2005, p. 22)
Competence
planning
•“Competency potential: the individual attributes necessary for someone to produce the desired behaviours.
•“Competency requirements: the demands made upon individuals within a work setting to behave in certain ways and not to behave
in others. In addition to the instructions received (i.e. the line manager's setting of an individual employee's goals), contextual and
situational factors in the work setting will also act to direct an individual's effort and affect the individual's ability to produce the
desired sets of behaviour. These requirements should normally derive from the organisational strategy and from a competency
profiling of the demands the job makes on people.
•“Results: the actual or intended outcomes of behaviour, which have been defined either explicitly or implicitly by the individual,
his or her line manager or the organisation.
Bartram
(2012)
Career
development
In relation to projects:
This is a process that takes place in parallel to a cyclic process that consists of three steps:
1. Assignment to projects
2. Development within projects
3. Dispersement after projects. It is about moving outwards as well as upwards.
Huemann
et al. (2004)
In general:
As a tool for the long-term competence goal of the company seeing promotion as a form of competence development based on long-term goals.
Ruderman
and Ohlott
(1994)
1461R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
projects and release from projects. They also proposed to align
the following line-oriented HRM practices with project
environments: selection and recruitment, appraisal in the line,
development and release from the organisation.
In addition, Söderlund and Bredin (2006) made a connection
between project orientation and knowledge intensiveness, arguing
that organisations that are knowledge-intensive often tend to be
project-oriented and knowledge is a foundation for competence.
Furthermore, Koskinen (2009) stated that project-oriented
organisations must continuously be able to acquire new
knowledge and skills to manage their environment successfully.
This is in fact challenging when a project-oriented company's
knowledge-based resources in reality are very mobile project
participants, which in turn makes it difficult to develop and
maintain competitive advantage (DeFillippi and Arthur, 1998;
Koskinen, 2009).
From a project management perspective, we detect ambigu-
ity because the project management culture focuses by nature
on short-term accomplishments, and long-term goals are
de-emphasised (Grossman, 2009; Tell and Söderlund, 2001).
Furthermore, Engwall (2003) argued that the project
manager's role needs to be connected to the company's
long-term operations.
In the above statements, we can find an ambiguous situation
in which competence is seen as a competitive advantage and is
gained in projects, but projects focus on short-term goals.
Looking at previous research, we also found that there is a lack
of alignment between projects and HRM competence manage-
ment practices.
How does previous research address this ambiguous situation?
Turner et al. (2007) emphasised that articles on project-oriented or
knowledge-intensive organisations refer only in passing to HRM
and do not address the HRM requirements of project-oriented
organisations in depth. Their work makes a contribution to
minimising this gap by presenting three project phases from an
HRM perspective:
Introduction/assignment
Engagement
Release.
Fig. 2-1. Evolutionary aspects of HRM.
1462 R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
The following framework is based on a mapping of the above
project phases and the HRM competence management practices,
presented in Table 2-2:
Introduction/assignment: selection, training & development
Engagement: training & development, performance
measurement
Release: internal promotion, performance measurement.
Based on the previous review on competence management
and HRM practices in a project-oriented context, we now pose
the following hypotheses, presented in Table 2-3.
The purpose of this study is twofold: firstly, to investigate the
degree to which the project manager is involved in the HRM
competence management practices in Swedish project-oriented
organisations presented in Table 2-2 and secondly, to investigate
the impact that the degree of involvement has on the aspects of
the company competence goal presented in Table 2-1.
Fig. 2-2 shows the associated research model with the project
manager's involvement in the HRM competence management
practices and its impact on the long-term competence goals.
3. Research methodology
In this section, we present the research methods used in this
study. The methodology adopted is from a post-positivistic
perspective, starting with a qualitative step that feeds and
determines the input to a subsequent quantitative study.
The qualitative step was based on in-depth semi-structured
interviews with four participants. The participants were project
managers from four different Swedish project-oriented compa-
nies. This step was carried out in order to develop the data
Table 2-2
Predominant HRM competence management practices from a project context perspective.
HRM competence management
practice
Description
Selection Selection in this context means the selection of project members to participate in the project. This practice includes selection that
takes into consideration both the project's needs and the organisation's long-term competence goal.
Training and development Projects require training and development of project members that are aligned with the competence level. In addition, competence is
needed, considering the organisation's defined core competences.
Performance measurement Performance measurement of project team members to provide feedback on their performance and competence acquisition to the
parent organisation. This is to verify that the project members are in alignment with their expected performance and their individual
development plans, and to verify that the competence level is in alignment with the organisation's defined core competence. It also
includes the competences that the individuals have developed within the project.
Internal promotion Internal promotion means promotion after the project completion. It ensures that the competence acquired in the project is used
according to the organisation's long-term competence goal.
Table 2-3
Hypotheses.
No. Hypothesis Sub-hypothesis
1 There is a relationship between the project manager degree of involvement in HRM
competence management practices and Competence utilisation.
A There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Selection and the Competence utilisation.
B There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Training &development and Competence utilisation.
C There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Performance measurement and Competence utilisation.
D There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Internal promotion and the Competence utilisation.
2 There is a relationship between the project manager degree of involvement in HRM
competence management practices and Competence planning.
A There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Selection and the Competence planning.
B There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Training &development and Competence planning.
C There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Performance measurement and Competence planning.
D There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Internal promotion and Competence planning.
3 There is a relationship between the project manager degree of involvement in HRM
competence Management practices and Career development.
A There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Selection and Career development.
B There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Training &development and Career development.
C There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Performance measurement and Career development.
D There is a relationship between project manager degree of involvement in
Internal promotion and the Career development.
1463R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
collection instrument used in the subsequent part of the study.
Its aim was to validate the definitions and the framework that
arose from the literature review and to define the constructs,
variables and sub-variables (Appendix B) as well as to develop
the quantitative survey. The quantitative study was conducted
using a web-based survey. The following subsections describe
the quantitative step in the study.
3.1. Sample
According to Hair et al. (2006), the recommended minimum
size is five observations per independent variable. This study has,
as shown in Fig. 2-2, four independent variables and a sample size
of sixty-three respondents, which is compliant with the above
statement.
The participants were project managers and project team
members from Swedish companies that fulfilled the requirement
of being project-oriented and considered as large companies.
Companies with fewer than 250 employees are considered as
small or mid-size companies (European Union, 2003). People
affected or involved in HRM competence management were
chosen in this study.
3.2. Data collection
The survey was structured in two main parts: one part consisted
of demographic questions and the other part of questions based on
the research model. The survey was mainly constructed with
questions built on five-point Likert scales. The demographic part
involved questions based on yes/no or multiple-choice questions.
The data collection tool used was Questionpro (www.questionpro.
com). The web survey was open from 24 August until 20
September 2011.
We used two main distribution channels for the survey:
1. The PMI website in Sweden
2. Our personal network within the target group.
We obtained 63 respondents, whereof 47 were project
managers and 16 were project team members.
3.3. Data preparation
The main purpose of the data preparation was to perform
validation and data reduction on the measurements.
We had 5.8% missing values in the survey, most of which
could be considered as non-random and concentrated on specific
questions, for which reason we replaced the missing values using
linear interpolation.
Missing data under 10% for an individual case or
observation can generally be ignored, except when the missing
data occurs in a specific non-random fashion (Hair et al., 2006).
The initial data preparation for the variables was followed by
an analysis to determine the most suitable tests to use. The
assumptions of parametric tests are normally distributed data,
homogeneity of variance,interval data and independency.
Normally distributed data are required because hypothesis testing
is based on normally distributed populations. Homogeneity of
variance could be applied either at the population or at the variable
level and be the same throughout the data. The interval data check
is used to verify that the distance between points is the same at
each point of the scale. Finally, the independency assumption is
based on the fact that every respondent is independent and
therefore is not influenced by others (Field, 2005).
The distribution of the variables was explored through
frequency tables presenting means, minimum and maximum
values, standard deviation, kurtosis and skewness. The frequency
table showed that the sub-variable PM involvement in planning
job assignments had a very high kurtosis of 4.4, indicating that
the values are located in the tail. According to Field (2005),the
kurtosis will be ±2 in a uniform distribution. We removed the
outliers and imputed the missing values but the kurtosis was still
above 2, so we decided to remove that sub-variable. This specific
sub-variable had a very low mean of 1.49 on a scale from 1 to 5.
The next step was to perform factor analysis (FA) with the
goal of reducing the data and validating the previously stated
associations. In order to conduct factor analysis, we needed a
minimum of five observations per variable (Hair et al., 2006),
which was achieved. To ensure that the data were appropriate
for performing factor analysis, we conducted a correlation
matrix, KaiserMeyerOlkin (KMO) test and anti-image
correlation and checked for communalities (Field, 2005; Hair
et al., 2006).
Fig. 2-2. Research model.
1464 R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
The first step in validating the appropriateness of performing
factor analysis was to determine the inter-item and inter-total
correlation for each construct. One of the sub-variables, Effect of
PM involvement in selection, forming the Selection construct,
was removed due to low correlation. Additionally, one of the
sub-variables in the Internal promotion (PM involvement in
planning job assignments) and Competence utilisation
(Utilisation of acquired competence) constructs, respectively,
was removed due to low correlation, which also increased the
alpha values for these constructs.
In the next step, we performed the KMO tests and
anti-image correlation and checked for communalities for
each construct. The KMO value was over 0.5 for all the
constructs, which, according to Field (2005), indicates that the
sample is adequate for performing factor analysis. Looking at
communalities gave us the result that all the values, except one
sub-variable, Clear role after project in the Career develop-
ment construct, were over 0.5. A value lower than 0.5 indicates
that the variable does not fit well with the factor solution and
that it should potentially be removed from the analysis (Hair et
al., 2006). However, we decided to keep the variable in the
Career development construct despite its high correlation with
the other variables in the construct.
The factor analysis gave us new factors for the different
constructs.
3.4. Validity and reliability
To test the reliability of the constructs we performed
Cronbach's alpha tests on the sub-scales in the factor analysis.
All the constructs, except the Selection construct, showed an
alpha value over 0.6, which researchers consider to be an
acceptable limit (Churchill, 1979; Hair et al., 2006). The
Selection construct consists of only two items for which the
Cronbach's alpha is not applicable for measuring reliability.
Instead, we looked at the correlation matrix and the variance of
the items, which are techniques applicable for testing reliability of
constructs with few items (Cortina, 1993; Medina, 2013). The
correlation matrix and variance gave us acceptable reliability
results for the Selection construct.
Validity was tested by using item-to-item correlation and
item-to-total correlation and all the constructs met the required
thresholds.
3.5. Results
In this section, we will first present the results of the
investigation of the project manager's degree of involvement in
the HRM competence management practices (see Fig. 3-1). After
that, we will present the result of the investigation of the impact
that the degree of involvement has on the aspects of the company
competence goal.
The next set of questions covered the project manager's
degree of involvement in the HRM competence management
practices. The results of the first questions, regarding the current
degree of involvement in the different HRM competence
management practices, show that the project manager has the
highest degree of involvement in Selection, followed by Training
and development. The results also show that the project manager
has the lowest degree of involvement in Internal promotion,
followed by Performance measurement. This is summarised in
Fig. 3-1.
After the data preparation, explained in the previous section,
we performed data analysis using regression analysis. The
purpose of the regression analysis was to test the hypotheses
presented in Table 2-3. The hypothesis testing was conducted by
Fig. 3-1. The project manager's degree of involvement in HRM competence management practices.
1465R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
a regression of each of the dependent variables against the project
manager involvement in HRM competence management prac-
tices construct as presented in the research model illustrated in
Fig. 2-2. This produced the three regression models shown in
Fig. 3-2.
All three regression models were significant at .05 or .01
(see Table 3-1), which means that the models are supported as a
whole.
Regarding multicollinearity, we found that we had low VIF
values for all the independent variables, and therefore also high
tolerance. All the values are well within the recommended
levels (VIF b10, tolerance N0.1).
The DurbinWatson test shows a positive correlation for all of
the dependent variables. The R squares show that project
manager involvement in HRM competence management prac-
tices can explain 22.2% of the variance in Competence
utilisation,32.5%inCompetence planning and 40.3% in Career
development.
Looking at the b-values (Table 3-1), we can see that a high
degree of project manager involvement in Selection and Training
and development has a positive impact on Competence
utilisation. We can also see that a high degree of project manager
involvement in Performance measurement and Internal
promotion has a positive impact on Competence planning,and
a high degree of project manager involvement in Selection,
Performance measurement and Internal promotion has a positive
impact on Career development.
Table 3-2 presents a summary of the hypothesis testing.
4. Discussion and conclusions
The present study consisted of two research questions. The
first question aimed to map the current involvement of the project
manager in competence management and the second to explore
the relation between the involvement and the long-term
competence goal.
The results presented in the previous section show that
project managers are currently involved in HRM competence
management practices but their degree of involvement is low.
This is in line with Turner (1999), who pointed out the fact that
companies have people working on projects but the project
managers are not part of the appraisal, career planning and
competence development of the project team members. This
study also shows that the situation in Sweden is similar to
Netherlands, Austria, the UK and the USA as Keegan et al.
(2012) describes in their case study of four different companies.
Additionally, this reality, in the terms of Engwall (2003),
appears as though the project manager is disconnected from the
long-term goals.
Furthermore Aguinis et al. (2013) emphasises that there
shall be an alignment between the performance of individuals
with the strategic goals of the organisation.
It is not surprising that the project manager's highest degree
of involvement is in Selection, which is in line with Engwall
(2001) and Turner et al. (2008), who described the recruitment
of project team members as a negotiation between the project
manager and the line. We also found that the project manager
was to some extent involved in Training and development
and Performance measurement, which is consistent with
Söderlund and Bredin (2006), who pointed out that the project
manager has a role in developing and motivating project team
members and in evaluating their performance and returning
information to the line manager. However, we found that the
project manager has a low degree of involvement in those
practices.
The lowest degree of project manager involvement is in
Internal promotion, which complies with Maylor (2010)
and Turner (1999), who stated that this is the phase during
Fig. 3-2. Regression models.
1466 R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
which the project manager may have a low level of direct
influence.
We investigated the second research question through our
research hypotheses and the result showed us that all three main
hypotheses were supported.
We found that the degree to which the project manager
is involved in competence management has an impact on
Competence utilisation. This result shows that the highest
impact is achieved when the project manager is involved in
Selection followed by involvement in Training and
development.
This is not a surprise since the selection of the project staff is
the action that takes place at the time of allocation of the project
team members. This confirms the results from other studies
that identified this aspect as a problem area in project-oriented
organisations (Arvidsson, 2009; Medina, 2013; Turner et al.,
2008).
We also found that the degree of project manager involvement
in competence management has an impact on Competence
planning. Involvement in Internal promotion produces the highest
impact on Competence planning followed by Performance
measurement. Our result did not give support for the impact of
Selection and Training and development on Competence planning.
As competence planning, in the words of Bartram (2012),is
composed of an analysis of the potential of the individual, the
requirements and needs of the organisation and the results and
achievements of the individual, it is quite logical that the
project manager's involvement in Internal promotion and
Performance management has a positive impact on competence
planning.
Career development, which is the third component of the
construct long-term competence goal, is by definition related to
Internal promotion (Ruderman and Ohlott, 1994). The result
presented in Table 3-2 shows that Internal promotion has the
highest impact on Career development, which is in line with the
definition above. Furthermore, we found that Selection and
Performance measurement also have an impact on Career
development, which is completely in line with the proposition
of Turner et al. (2008) including assessing performance and
assignments to projects as HRM practices that need to be aligned
with the project context. Our interpretation of our result is that
this alignment can be reached by securing project management
involvement in those practices. This interpretation concurs with
one of the latest findings in the area, which states that “… projects
as a source of motivation and offering interesting working forms
for employees(Huemann, 2010, p. 368).
Table 3-1
Multicollinearity, independence of errors and R squares, and model significance and b-values for the hypotheses.
Dependent variables
Competence utilisation Competence planning Career development
PM involvement in HRM Competence management practices DurbinWatson 1.727 1.413 1.849
VIF 1.1801.619 1.1801.619 1.1801.619
Tolerance 0.6190.847 0.6190.847 0.6190.847
R square 0.222 0.325 0.403
Model significance and b-values in the hypotheses
Selection 0.490
**
0.341
**
Training & development 0.136
*
Performance measurement 0.213
*
0.046
*
Internal promotion 0.306
*
0.348
**
Model significance 0.005 0 0
*
p0.05.
**
p0.01.
Table 3-2
Summary of the hypothesis testing.
Hypo-thesis Sub-hypothesis Independent variable Dependent variable Verification of hypothesis Highest impact on dependent variable
H1 Main hypothesis: supported
A Selection Competence utilisation ✔❖
B Training & development
C Performance measurement
D Internal promotion
H2 Main hypothesis: supported
A Selection Competence planning
B Training & development
C Performance measurement
D Internal promotion ✔❖
H3 Main hypothesis: supported
A Selection Career development
B Training & development
C Performance measurement
D Internal promotion ✔❖
1467R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
Summarising, from the results we can now argue that a higher
degree of project manager involvement in HRM competence
management practices leads to better competence utilisation,
competence planning and career development, which in this
model are the three measurement dimensions of the long-term
competence goal.
Furthermore, they show that the involvement in the different
practices affects different aspects of the long-term competence
goal.
In general terms, these findings support the previous research
that identified a need for integration of the project perspective
into HRM practices (Söderlund and Bredin, 2006; Turner et al.,
2008). Furthermore, the main contribution of this work is the
perspective of the need for a change in the role and
responsibilities of the project manager. These changes apply to
the project manager's participation in HRM competence
management practices, which calls for integration of the project
management and the HRM domain. An additional contribution
is the definition of HRM competence management practices as
Selection, Training and development, Performance measure-
ment and Internal promotion. This new definition creates a link
between HRM practices and competence management.
The third contribution is the framework, presented in
Section 2, which maps the HRM competence management
practices to the HRM project phases that Turner et al. (2008)
put forward.
One of the limitations of this study is the sample size. Another
limitation is that this study did not take the age, culture or genus
perspectives into consideration.
The main practical implication for organisations is to
redefine the project manager role so that it includes participa-
tion in the long-term strategic competence management not
just only short-term project goals. By doing this, the
organisation would have better control and possibility to
follow the individuals' competence. Competence achieved in
projects could also be used as input to the strategy process to
increase the competitive advantage. This means that the project
manager should have a role in the HRM competence
management practices described in Section 2,namely:Selection,
Training & development, Performance measurement and Internal
promotion.
Another practical implication is to make the framework,
presented in Section 2, part of the project life cycle in order to
ensure that firms do not neglect the HRM practices applying to a
project.
One theoretical implication is that project management
theories need to include HRM practices to secure that the project
manager role has the perspective of HRM practices. Also the
HRM literature needs to include the project perspective though
projects have become a common way of performing work in most
types of organisations. Another theoretical implication is the need
for harmonisation of typology and terms. Our study shows that
HRM practices have various meanings depending on different
perspectives of HRM practices. Harmonisation of the terms
would give a clearer view and a better understanding of the
different HRM practices.
Further studies on the project manager's involvement in
HRM practices might produce other organisational implica-
tions in other areas than the long-term competence goal. Future
studies should also look at the underlying processes that
support the HRM competence management practices. Studies
involving participants who possess other roles than project
manager or project team member are also necessary to facilitate
a deeper understanding of the implications. Another stream for
further studies is the connection between project manager
involvement in HRM practices and motivation as well as project
success.
Conict of interest
None.
Appendix A. summary of classifications of HRM practices
Guest (1997) Paauwe and Richardson
(1997)
Sheppeck and Militello
(2000)
1. Selection
2. Socialisation
3. Training and development
4. Quality improvement programmes
5. Single status
6. Job security
7. Internal promotion
8. Individualised reward systems
9. Communication
10. Employee involvement
11. Team working
12. Job design
13. Flexible job descriptions
1. Recruitment/selection
2. Human resource planning
3. Rewards (motivation)
4. Participation (commitment)
5. Internally consistent HR bundles
6. Decentralisation
7. Training/employee development
8. Organisational structures/internal labour market
9. Formal procedures
1. Employee skills and work policies/practices:
a. Staffing
b. Training
c. Work design
d. Employee relation practices
2. Supportive environment practices:
a. Employee empowerment
b. Employee assistance
c. Diversity
d. Flexible benefits
3. Performance measurement and reinforcement practices:
a. Performance appraisal
b. Compensation
4. Market organisation practices:
a. Alternative work design
b. Compensation
c. Market leading compensation
1468 R. Medina, A. Medina / International Journal of Project Management 32 (2014) 14591470
Appendix B. Constructs, variables and sub-variables
Construct Variable Sub-variable Code
HRM competence management practices Selection PM involvement in selection q7
Experienced degree of involvement in selection q12
Effect of PM involvement in selection q13
Training & development PM involvement linked to long-term goal q18
Effect of PM Involvement in T&D q20
Performance measurement PM Involvement in PerfMeas q21
Experienced degree of involvement in PerfMeas q22
Effect of PM involvement in PerfMeas q23
Internal promotion PM involvement in IntPro q25
Effect of PM involvement in IntPro q26
PM involvement in planning job assignments q28
PM involvement in create career opportunities q30
Effect of PM involvement in create career opportunities q31
Company's long-term competence goal Competence utilisation Consistent competence q10
Selection process q11
Utilisation of acquired competence q19
Competence planning Consistence project and long-term need q16
Contribution of acquired competence q17
Career development Project work contribution q15
Effect of project participation q24
Clear role after project q27
Project work creates career opportunities q29
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Proposition d'un cadre systémique en soutien à l'amélioration des compétences des membres des équipes projet : le cas d'une organisation municipale à structure matricielle faible par France Desjardins Sous la direction de : Éric Jean, Ph. D., professeur agrégé au Département des sciences économiques et administratives, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. Christophe Leyrie, D. Sc., professeur titulaire au Département des sciences économiques et administratives, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. Thèse présentée à l'Université du Québec à Chicoutimi en vue de l'obtention du grade de doctorat en management de projets (DMP)
Article
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Purpose Over the last few decades, a large number of research studies have been carried out on project manager's leadership competencies. However, systematic literature reviews are still scarce in the project management literature. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to conduct a systematic literature review on project manager's leadership competencies based on published empirical research studies. Design/methodology/approach The authors employed a systematic literature review (SLR) methodology to synthesize research in a rigorous manner and a total of 1,780 articles were identified in the first step and a final sample of 60 research studies were synthesized. Findings Synthesis of the findings in this SLR on project manager's leadership competencies revealed: (a) there is a lack of categorization or ranking of leadership competencies; (b) 20 research studies (46%) were conducted with sample sizes of less than 100; (c) only a few research studies (<10%) used interview data for analysis; and (d) none of the research studies reported adoption of a triangulation method. Research limitations/implications This study synthesized clusters of leadership competencies and prioritized project manager's leadership competencies as “high priority”, “moderate priority” and “low priority”. We recommend a sample size between 200 and 300 to produce sophisticated results and enhance the credibility, generalizability and validity of clusters and priorities of project manager's leadership competencies through future research. Originality/value Future research studies are suggested to consider systematic literature review combined with face-to-face and group interview in addition to employing triangulation methods. Besides highlighting implications for practitioners, this SLR has advanced the understanding of how to conduct systematic literature reviews in a robust manner.
Book
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Over the years there has been a shift in emphasis in research into project management, from focusing on the management of the individual project, to focusing on creating an environment in which projects can thrive. In the 1970s, the focus of project management research was on developing tools and techniques, particularly critical path analysis, but also earned value analysis. In the 1980s, the focus was on success factors on projects. Before you can choose appropriate tools to manage the project, you need to know what factors will influence success. In the 1990s, the focus switched to success criteria. Before you can chose appropriate success factors, and hence appropriate tools, you need to know how the project will be judged successful at the end, and have the entire team, indeed all the stakeholders, focusing on the same end objectives, both project outcomes and business benefits. This research led to a measured improvement in project performance, with success rates doubling for one third of projects to two thirds of projects, (and failure rates halving from two thirds to one third). Clearly the research of the last three decades of the 20th century made an important contribution to project performance, but it was not enough, it was not the whole story. Another part of the story is the context in which the project takes place. Senior management in the parent organization must ensure that they create an environment in which projects can thrive. They must govern the set of relationships between the management of projects taking place in the organization, the organization itself, themselves as client, and other stakeholders to ensure that projects can successfully deliver business benefit and help achieve corporate strategy. Project governance, governing that set of relationships, is not just the role of projects management; their role is primarily to successfully deliver project outputs. Senior management must create and govern the supportive project environment. Part of that environment is the management of knowledge. Many project-based organizations from both the high-tech and engineering industries recognize that their ability to deliver projects successfully gives them a competitive advantage. So being able to manage project management knowledge, to be able to remember how to deliver projects successfully and to improve that knowledge, is key to the organization’s success. But in project-based organizations, knowledge management is problematic, with new knowledge created on temporary projects and used on other projects. In the functional organization there is a classic three-step process of knowledge management: variation, selection, retention. New ideas are created in the function, successful ideas are chosen for reuse, and the knowledge stored within the function where it can be reused. In project-based organizations, new ideas are created on temporary projects, but the project cannot select and retain new ideas. Further, wherever those new ideas are stored, they are not immediately available to new projects. The project-based organization needs to think about how it is going to select new knowledge, where it is going to store it, and it needs to create a fourth step of knowledge management, distribution of knowledge to new projects. A book on knowledge management within project-based organizations is therefore a welcome addition to the literature. The book contains chapters by many recognized experts from the project management literature. It builds on a special issue of The International Journal of Project Management (Volume 21, Number 3, April 2003), which was edited by Peter Love. The book contains some revised papers, but also many new chapters by significant contributors to the field. It contains many important topics, such as the sharing of knowledge across boundaries, the creation of a learning environment in project-based firms, and learning from project failure. The book will be a valued addition to my library.Professor J Turner
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