Received June 22, 2022 - Accepted Aug. 1, 2022
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Gestão & Produção, 29, e3122, 2022 | https://doi.org/10.1590/1806-9649-2022v29e3122 1/24
Agile project management under the perspective
of dynamic capabilities
Gestão ágil de projetos sob a perspectiva das capacidades
Lisiane Sassi Ferreira1 , Farley Simon Nobre1
1Universidade Federal do Paraná – UFPR, Escola de Administração, Programa de Pós-graduação em Gestão de
Organizações, Liderança e Decisão – PPGOLD, Curitiba, PR, Brasil. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
How to cite: Ferreira, L. S., & Nobre, F. S. (2022). Agile project management under the perspective of
dynamic capabilities. Gestão & Produção, 29, e3122, http://doi.org/10.1590/1806-9649-2022v29e3122
Abstract: There is a growing academic and industrial interest in how firms can adopt agile project
management to meet the demands of dynamically fast-moving environments. However,
organizations face difficulties using agile methods in developing a physical product, like the
companies found in the automotive industry. This article aims to study agile project management
from the perspective of dynamic capabilities. It presents a strengthened analysis of the adoption of
agile methods needed for developing physical products in the automotive industry. To address this
issue, we formulated the following research question: “what are the dynamic capabilities associated
with the agile project management of product development in the automotive sector?”. The article
presents a case study of a multinational organization in the automotive sector that implemented
concepts and practices of agile methods in the project management of new vehicles. Results
evidenced the manifestation of dynamic capabilities in the organization's agile project management
scope at sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring levels. Furthermore, findings showed the presence of
agile methods in the projects and their implications for the organization regarding benefits (like
communication, time, effectiveness, autonomy, and motivation gains) and challenges (like
resistance to organizational changes). Finally, we propose a framework for analyzing relationships
between dynamic capabilities’ microfoundations and agile project management practices to guide
the choice and implementation of agile methods in the automotive sector.
Keywords: Agility; Agile project management; Agile methods; Dynamic capabilities; Automotive sector.
Resumo: Há um interesse crescente na literatura e em diversos setores industriais sobre a adoção de
gestão ágil de projetos para atender a demandas de ambientes caracterizados por rápidas mudanças.
No entanto, organizações encontram dificuldades associadas ao uso de métodos ágeis no
desenvolvimento de um produto físico, a exemplo da indústria automotiva. O propósito deste artigo é
estudar a gestão ágil de projetos sob a perspectiva das capacidades dinâmicas e suas relações por meio
do desenvolvimento de um quadro conceitual sobre a adoção de métodos ágeis para o desenvolvimento
de produtos físicos da indústria automotiva. Por conseguinte, formulou-se a seguinte pergunta de
pesquisa: “quais são as capacidades dinâmicas associadas à gestão ágil de projetos de
desenvolvimento de produto no setor automotivo?”. O artigo apresenta um estudo de caso de uma
multinacional do setor automotivo que implementou métodos ágeis na gestão de três projetos de
desenvolvimento de novos veículos. Constataram-se indícios de capacidades dinâmicas no escopo de
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gestão ágil de projetos da organização nos níveis de sensing, seizing e reconfiguring. Identificaram-se
métodos ágeis nos projetos estudados e as suas implicações na organização em termos de benefícios
(a exemplo de ganhos em comunicação, tempo, eficácia, autonomia e motivação) e desafios (a exemplo
de resistência a mudanças organizacionais). A partir dos resultados, elaborou-se um quadro conceitual
que relaciona microfundamentos de capacidades dinâmicas à adoção de práticas de gestão ágil de
projetos, com o intuito de nortear a escolha e implementação de métodos ágeis em organizações do
Palavras-chave: Agilidade; Gestão ágil de projetos; Métodos ágeis; Capacidades dinâmicas;
There is growing interest in the literature on adopting agile project management1 in
several industrial areas related to environments characterized by rapid changes (Teece,
2018, 2019). Starting and consolidating itself successfully in the software industry
(Conforto et al., 2016; Rigby et al., 2016; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014), the use of agile
project management has become a subject of study and application in other sectors,
extending to other areas such as agricultural and food (Rigby et al., 2016), civil
engineering (Albuquerque et al., 2020; Arefazar et al., 2022), pharmaceutical
(Azanha et al., 2017) and telecommunications (Kurniawan et al., 2020).
In this context, the software industry has been experimenting with new management
models with multiple and parallel activities related to each other in a “looser” way.
However, with a high degree of coordination, called the “agile” model, the criterion
agility is the leading competitive factor (Leybourne, 2009; Conforto et al., 2016).
Nevertheless, to achieve project management processes improvement in technological
environments, it is necessary to use alternative methods, which can accommodate
agility and flexibility criteria for the development of capabilities that contribute to the
project processes improvement and the creation of the organization’s competitiveness
– by considering the reduction of deadlines and product delivery cycles, cost control,
multifunctional teams trained through self-management and collective learning
involving groups of projects, employees and customers (Rigby et al., 2016, 2018;
Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986).
In this regard, previous research indicates that it is possible to have success with
this model in agricultural or food industries (Rigby et al., 2016), in the civil industry
(Albuquerque et al., 2020; Arefazar et al., 2022), in the pharmaceutical industry
(Azanha et al., 2017), in the telecommunications industry (Kurniawan et al., 2020) and
manufacturing industries (Zuzek et al., 2020).
However, some studies have pointed out difficulties in adopting agile project
management in other industrial classes due to differences between the
development of software and physical products (Rigby et al., 2016; Dikert et al.,
2016; Albuquerque et al., 2020; Stare, 2014; Conforto et al., 2014). Some
challenges are associated with the organizational transition process from a
traditional methodology to agile management, in addition to factors directly
related to the product characteristics (Dikert et al., 2016; Highsmith, 2001). In this
1Agility is “the capacity of an organization to efficiently and effectively redeploy/redirect its resources to value
creating and value protecting (and capturing) higher-yield activities as internal and external circumstances
warrant (Teece et al., 2016, p. 17). At the operational level, agility is “Agility is the project team's ability to
quickly change the project plan as a response to customer or stakeholders needs, market or technology
demands in order to achieve better project and product performance in an innovative and dynamic project
environment” (Conforto et al., 2016, p. 667).
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Gestão & Produção, 29, e3122, 2022 3/24
sense, some authors have suggested the need to develop research on the
conceptualization and application of agile project management based on
experiences acquired in the software sector in the task environment of industries
that develop physical products (Conforto et al., 2014, 2016; Rigby et al., 2016;
Stare, 2014; Ciric et al., 2018; Bergmann & Karwowski, 2019; Zuzek et al., 2020).
Additionally, there is a need to study project management from perspectives that
can explain microfoundations of dynamic capabilities that can foster the process
of agility in organizations (Teece et al., 2016; Teece, 2018, 2019).
This article aims to study agile project management from the perspective of dynamic
capabilities and their relationships through the development of a conceptual framework
for adopting agile methods for the development of physical products in the automotive
industry. Dynamic capabilities constitute an organizational phenomenon (Teece, 2007,
2012; Teece et al., 1997) and they foster agility (Teece et al., 2016) in terms of
construction (sensing), integration (seizing), and reconfiguration (reconfiguring)
resources and skills in environments characterized by rapid technological change and
high uncertainty, such as the automotive industry (Teece, 2018; Teece et al., 2016). In
this way, we proceed to relate agile project management to the activities of creating and
composing micro-foundations of dynamic capabilities that are constituted by groups of
activities that include sensing (detecting - shaping opportunities and threats); seizing
(seize - capturing the opportunities); and reconfiguring (reconfigure - maintaining
competitiveness through the reconfiguration or transformation of the company's
intangible and tangible assets) (Teece, 2007). In more detail, the microfoundation
patterns of dynamic capabilities can comprise practices such as (i) sensing – realizing
the need for change by directing projects to generate improvements in their operations
and create market opportunities-, (ii) seizing – deciding on the creation of departments
responsible for the agile transformation in the company - and (iii) reconfiguring –
reconfigure project resources related to governance, operations, hiring, among other
activities in the organization (Teece et al., 2016). Therefore, the research question was
formulated: “what are the dynamic capabilities associated with the agile project
management of product development in the automotive sector?”. As a methodology, the
article presents a case study of a multinational in the automotive sector that implemented
agile methods to manage three new vehicle development projects. The organization's
operationalization of the agile method was carried out through the Scrum model. It offers
an agile management structure and processes based on short cycles and continuous
learning, differentiating itself from traditional methods that sequentially organize activities
(Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014). The results showed signs of dynamic capabilities in the
organization's agile project management scope at the sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring
levels. Agile methods were identified in the organization's projects and their implications,
in terms of benefits and challenges, for the studied organization. A conceptual framework
was developed that relates microfoundations of dynamic capabilities to agile project
management practices. The article explains agile project management through dynamic
capabilities and guides decisions on adopting agile methods in organizations in the
This article is structured in five sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Theoretical foundation
on agile project management, Scrum method, and dynamic capabilities; (3)
Methodology and presentation of the case study; (4) Results and Analysis; (5)
Discussions and Propositions; and (6) Final Considerations.
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2 Theoretical foundation
2.1 Agile project management
Agile methods became better known in 2001 with the creation of the “Agile
Manifesto”, which was prepared by professionals and software development
theorists who introduced the term “agile” and questioned traditional project
management techniques (Highsmith, 2001; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014). The
principles enunciated in this manifesto generated requirements to deliver high-
quality software agilely. Some of these requirements include self-organizing
teams; customers actively involved in the development process to receive regular
feedback; the ability to respond to changes over following a fixed schedule; and
people and their motives must be above processes and tools (Dingsoyr et al.,
2012; Rigby et al., 2016).
Agile project management practices include: prioritization (Cocco et al., 2011;
Rigby et al., 2016; PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; Zuzek et al., 2020);
iterative planning (Conforto et al., 2014; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; PMI, 2017;
Rigby et al., 2016; Highsmith, 2001); holding Scrum ceremonies (Conforto et al., 2014;
Cervone, 2011; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; PMI, 2017; Saisa et al., 2019;
Zuzek et al., 2020); agile mindset (Dikert et al., 2016; Albuquerque et al., 2020;
Conforto et al., 2016; Nicholls et al., 2015); multidisciplinary and self-managing teams
(Nicholls et al., 2015, Azanha et al., 2017; Dingsoyr et al., 2012; Rigby et al., 2016;
PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; Conforto et al., 2014; Takeuchi & Nonaka,
1986); decision making at the team level (Rigby et al., 2016; PMI, 2017; Sutherland &
Sutherland, 2014; Conforto et al., 2014; Ruark, 2015); teams located in a single
physical space (Cervone, 2011; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; PMI, 2017;
Saisa et al., 2019; Hidalgo, 2019; Ruark, 2015); and visual management
(Conforto et al., 2014; PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014). Implementing agile
methodologies in companies is a significant challenge, as it implies a transformation
movement involving several processes and individuals. Some challenges encountered
during the transformation from the traditional methodology to the agile method were
reported in the study by Dikert et al. (2016), such as general resistance to change, lack
of team training, difficulty in interpreting agile concepts, use of traditional and agile
methodologies at the same time, and correct Product Owner's role performance -
customer representative and other parties project stakeholders and responsible for
feeding and setting priorities.
Scrum was created in 1993 by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for faster, more
reliable, and efficient software development (Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014). Its
conception was inspired by the work of Takeuchi & Nonaka (1986). They present
characteristics of successful teams identified through interviews with executives and
engineers from large companies in Japan and the United States. These authors
presented six main characteristics: built-in instability; self-organizing project teams;
overlapping development phases; “multilearning”; subtle control; and organizational
transfer of learning. These characteristics are described in the Scrum model as cross-
functional teams – having the various skills needed to execute a project; transcendent
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- beyond the ordinary and trivial, are guided by a common goal; and autonomous (self-
organizing), with authority to make their own decisions. In this context, the role of the
management or leader is to be a facilitator removing obstacles from the team's path
instead of just giving orders and exercising control (Cervone, 2011; Sutherland &
One of the basic principles of Scrum is to conduct the project through cycles called
sprints, which usually last from one to two weeks. Sprints are not just a way to deliver
faster but constitute a process of carrying out learning cycles and testing prototypes
during the project.
At the beginning of each sprint, there is a meeting to plan the activities that will be
carried out in this period, called Sprint Planning. At this meeting, the team determines
the amount of work it believes it can accomplish during the sprint and the delivery
criteria. The work themes are called stories, and tasks are associated with each of
them. The stories selected to make up the sprint and that are available in the sprint
backlog2 are chosen from a list called the product backlog, in which all the work
necessary to ensure deliveries throughout the project is listed (Sutherland &
The selection of stories in the backlog for the next sprint follows a prioritization
pattern in which the Product Owner is responsible for ordering the items in the backlog
by priority. Unfortunately, a bad habit in companies raised by Sutherland & Sutherland
(2014) is the lack of prioritization of activities (Rigby et al., 2016) and the culture that
“everything is a top priority”.
During the sprint, a daily meeting is held to check the progress of activities. In these
meetings, the Scrum Master – the manager responsible for maintaining the processes
and ensuring the application of the Scrum method – verifies which activities were
carried out and which were not and identifies the obstacles that block the team's work
(PMI, 2017; Cervone, 2011; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014).
At the end of the sprint, team members meet with the Product Owner and show
what they have accomplished in that time in a meeting called the Sprint Review. The
Sprint Retrospective meeting is held to capitalize on the errors and successes of the
The main actors of the Scrum team and their primary responsibilities are as follows
(PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014): Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the
team (called an agile team).
The Scrum team is usually cross-functional and consists of a few people who
work on the project with complete dedication. It is self-organized, has the autonomy
to make decisions, and builds the solutions and strategies necessary to act
(Cervone, 2011; PMI, 2017). All these characteristics broaden organizational
experiences and create trust and mutual respect among team members
(Rigby et al., 2016). This research focuses on the Scrum method because it is the
method used in the cases studied, in addition to being based on the concept of
Sutherland & Sutherland (2014), who present Scrum as an agile framework for
application in project management that is not restricted to software development,
including the automotive sector.
2The backlog is the ordered list, according to the Product Owner's prioritization, of all the work for an agile
team (PMI, 2017).
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2.3 Dynamic capabilities
An initial definition of dynamic capabilities was presented by Teece et al. (1997, p.
516) “[...] as the firm's ability to integrate, build and reconfigure internal and external
competencies to address rapidly changing environment”. The term “dynamics” refers
to developing and renewing competencies in response to the rapidly changing
technological and market environment. In contrast, the term “capabilities” emphasizes
the key role of strategic managers in adapting, integrating, and reconfiguring skills,
resources, and organizations’ competencies to meet the requirements of these
changes (Teece et al., 1997).
The concept of dynamic capabilities was influenced by ideas from theories of the
company's growth through its internal resources (Penrose, 1959) and the Resource-
Based View (RBV) (Wernerfelt, 1984) that seek to explain the advantage competitive
as a result of the confluence of value-generating assets, resources and dynamic
processes of organizations (Barney, 1991). A sustained competitive advantage is
understood as the company's ability to devise value creation strategies that are not
implemented simultaneously by another competitor, that last for a particular desirable
period, and that can be replicated by the company (Barney, 1991). The distinction
between dynamic and ordinary capabilities has been discussed by Teece (2007, 2014).
Ordinary capabilities are associated with administrative and operational functions that
are technically necessary for an organization. On the other hand, dynamic capabilities
are related to “higher level” activities that organize ordinary activities and result from
managerial skills in detecting opportunities, building solutions, and reconfiguring
resources to create long-term values for the organization and its stakeholders.
Dynamic capabilities are capable of (Teece, 2007): detecting and outlining
opportunities and threats; taking advantage of existing opportunities; and maintaining
competitiveness by improving the company's intangible and tangible assets. They
commonly favor the development of new products and processes and the creation of
viable business models (Teece, 2007). Groups or patterns of activities constitute them,
also understood as microfoundations (Teece, 2007) that involve processes of sensing
(detecting and shaping opportunities and threats); seizing (shaping and capturing the
opportunities); and reconfiguring (integrating and generating elements of
competitiveness through the reconfiguration or transformation of the company's
intangible and tangible assets).
Teece et al. (2016) state that organizations that develop solid dynamic capabilities
have highly effective management teams, have robust and flexible organizational
designs and foster agility. It is noteworthy that agility “[...] is costly to develop and
maintain and sometimes even more costly if it is nonexistent” (Teece et al., 2016, p.
17). Therefore, it is an organizational attribute valuable in environments with deep
2.4 Microfoundations of dynamic capabilities and the agile management
To clarify the microfoundations, also called dimensions, of dynamic capabilities
(Figure 1), Teece (2007) presents them in three items: (1) detect opportunities
(sensing); (2) seizing opportunities detected; and (3) reconfigure/transform assets as
needed (reconfiguring/transforming). Sensing comprises an organization's processes
to sense, filter, shape, calibrate, and analyze opportunities and external information to
learn about competitors and customers. Seizing comprises the mobilization of
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resources to meet the needs and opportunities obtained in detecting (sensing) activity
and researching and developing opportunities through new products, processes, or
services that better serve the market. Furthermore, Teece (2014) describes
reconfiguring, which is called transforming, comprises the capabilities to recombine and
reconfigure organizational assets and structures to improve the organization's internal
processes and generate competitive advantages.
Therefore, it is believed that the Dynamic Capabilities perspective fosters agility
(Teece et al., 2016) and constitutes an organizational phenomenon to be researched
in organizations concerning the construction, integration, and reconfiguration of
resources and competencies, including- procedures and processes, in environments
with rapid technological change and characterized by uncertainties, as is the case of
the automotive industry (Teece, 2018). Likewise, agile project management can be
related to the activities of creating and composing microfoundations of dynamic
capabilities (Teece, 2007), putting into practice the theoretical concepts of Teece
(2007) and Teece et al. (2016) when studying a practical case in the automotive sector.
It is understood that agility can improve projects as it can deliver greater value to
stakeholders. In addition, a hybrid approach can bring contributions and better maturity
to project management (Gemino et al., 2021).
Figure 1. Foundation of Dynamic Capabilities Model. Adapted from Teece 2007).
This article is grounded in qualitative and exploratory research. The authors
conducted a case study of multiple projects (Eisenhardt, 1989; Seuring, 2008; Yin,
2014) in a multinational company in the automotive sector.
3.1 Case study
The company studied is a multinational in the automotive sector with industrial
plants located in the Latin American region and projects for developing new vehicles.
The company studied will be called by the pseudonym Automov SA to preserve its
Automov SA was intentionally selected and is representative of the phenomenon
studied and has complex and dynamic environments conducive to the dynamic
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capabilities’ manifestations (Teece et al., 1997) and the use of agile project
management (Conforto et al., 2016; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014). It was also
selected for being a reference in its segment with more than 120 years of history,
encouraging and supporting the use of agile project management and enabling the
conduction of research through participant observation and interviews.
The project sampling was also defined intentionally, non-probabilistic way, in which
three new projects of new vehicles were selected, with launches scheduled between
2021 and 2024. These projects were chosen because they involved improving
processes in turbulent and dynamic environments, which are favorable elements for
manifesting dynamic capabilities and adopting agile management (Teece et al., 1997;
Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; Conforto et al., 2016). Additionally, these projects were
selected because they are the three main avenues for the development of new vehicles
in Automov SA's engineering that used the agile methodology, in addition to presenting
the convenience of availability of interviews with directors, managers, and employees.
3.2 Data collection
Data collection was carried out through documentary research, semi-structured
interviews, and participant observation between 2020 and 2021. Data were collected
on the company's history, vehicle projects, the project management model used, the
company justifications regarding the agile transformation, and other elements. The
interviews took place between September 2020 and April 2021 and participant
observation between January 2020 and April 2021.
Fourteen people from two different groups called A and B were interviewed.
Group A involved three company directors who were interviewed to identify the
dynamic capabilities present in the company and explain managerial motivations
and organizational objectives for the adoption of agile methods. As high-level
managers in the company compound it, this group's contributions to identifying
activities at the sensing level were highlighted. Group B involved three to four
members from each of the three projects. Its members were interviewed to
identify the manifestations of dynamic capabilities, the agile methods used, and
their implications for the organization. The interviews were carried out until data
saturation was observed when new significant patterns no longer appeared in
response to the questions asked.
The interviews were transcribed using the Google Documents “Voice Typing”
tool, with automatic transcription of videos recorded by Microsoft Teams. To
correct possible erroneous transcriptions of the tool, the researcher listened
again to the interviews and revised the transcript to obtain a reliable result of the
content of the speeches. The 14 interviews had a total duration of 07 hours, 55
minutes, and 35 seconds, resulting in a total of 128 transcribed pages. At the
same time, the participant observation technique was used to obtain information
about the three selected projects through the insertion and direct contact of one
of the researchers in the environment of the studied organization, observing the
activities developed by different actors in the project (Bogdan, 1973; Angrosino,
2009; Yin, 2014). Observations were carried out in meetings and recorded using
notes in a field diary, in Word® files organized by date, list of participants, and
observed content. In the documentary research, data was collected from internal
documents of the organization, such as PowerPoint® presentations, meeting
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minutes, Excel tables, and internal emails. Materials from the company's new
strategic plan released in early 2021 were also used.
Data analysis was performed based on the content analysis technique (Bardin,
2016). Validation and reliability were performed by triangulating different sources of
material (Voss et al., 2002; Yin, 2014). Triangulation of data from documental research,
theoretical framework, interviews, and participant observation was chosen.
4 Results and analysis
4.1 Dynamic capabilities identified at Automov SA
Table 1 presents the three classes of microfoundations of dynamic capabilities
identified at the sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring levels, along with some fragments
of the interviews, documentation, and/or observations that showed their manifestations
at Automov SA.
For the construction of Table 1, the actions were separated into three parts,
according to the data from the subgroup “microfoundations” of the coding
performed for evidence of the sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring codes obtained
by excerpts from interviews in Group A, excerpts from documents during the
documentary research, or excerpts from field diary notes during participant
observation. After rereading these excerpts, the actions identified in the second
column of Table 1 were summarized, and some evidence that emerged from the
interviewees' reports, excerpts from documents, or observation notes was added
to the third column.
Table 1. Dynamic Capabilities Identified at Automov AS.
Activities/Actions Empirical Evidence
- Company’s understanding regarding the
need for change to adapt to the market;
- Monitoring the mobility and connectivity
- Identification of customer needs;
- Identification of benefits of agile methods
for the company;
- Visits to Silicon Valley in the USA to
detect technological trends and new forms
- Company's understanding of the need for
learning and adopting agile methods;
- Understanding agility as an opportunity to
improve and sustain the company's
- Understanding of the company regarding
the lack of agile mentality and culture in the
organization and employees’
- Identification of threats or barriers that
may prevent the development of agility in
- “[...] the President of the company had
an experience with agility and saw good
results. [...] he called me and said “I
would like you to come work with me to
help transform the company”. [...] and in
that he brought the agile and said to
research about it” (I1)
- “I believe that agility is directly linked to
the company's need to transform itself in
search of improving its performance and
a more agile organization and I would
say with fewer layers and more
dynamics in the face of so many
transformations and changes” (I2)
- “Agility [...] is no longer a choice, but a
necessity for organizations to survive the
speed at which changes are occurring.
[...] So there is a great need to read and
adapt our business model about
customer needs so that we can ensure
the future of the company and the
business model we have” (I2)
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Activities/Actions Empirical Evidence
- Strategic decision to gradually develop
agility through POCs and in specific
- Creation of a department to lead the
- Decision to implement an agility program
- Outline solutions through agile methods
that can generate benefits such as
flexibility, time-to-market agility, and
operational performance improvement;
- How to develop agile project
management in the company study;
- How to change the culture and mindset
against agility in the organization study;
- The readjustment of the organizational
structure and culture study;
- Reformulation of functions and
organizational design study.
- “[...] arrived at the beginning of 2018
and we first defined that we would work
with support for agile and with concrete
success cases to create positive
dynamics about the new way of working.
So, we created the BTO (Business
Transformation Office)” (I1)
- “In parallel, this movement was created
through a corporate program, which is
Delta, which was precisely when they
started to deploy this organization in
- “The objective of this group is to
prepare the engineering department to
be able to carry out a complete project in
an agile format to build our future through
performance” (PowerPoint document
- Decision to acquire an agile company as
a way of absorbing knowledge and
- Hiring agility specialists (“agilists”);
- BTO department creation;
- Delta program implementation;
- Investment in certifications and training
on agile methods for employees;
- Creation of agile teams in projects that
used agile methods and organizational
- Incentive to create multidisciplinary agile
teams and end-to-end responsibilities;
- Implementation of Product Owner and
Scrum Master roles;
- Establishment of governance for agility;
- Continuous learning and knowledge
transfer through the Scrum method;
- Strategic planning focused on agility;
- Gradual transformation of the company's
culture and values to an agile concept.
- “About training [...] we go a lot as
needed, so we do not provide training for
the sake of training, but we seek where
there is a need” (I1)
- “(...) a few years ago Automov SA
decided to buy a company in the IT area
in Europe, it acquired this company with
an agile structure already, to learn
exactly this methodology” (I2)
- “With the arrival of our new CEO, he
with the new strategic plan of
Automov SA and the basis of this
program is in agility, in a much flatter
organization, very clear accountability
process, [...] So I would say that today
the implementation program is through
our new strategic plan and we are going
to try 100% within this agile mentality”
- “The company started to develop a
program called Delta precisely trying to
make agile methods more corporate” (I3)
- “Between 2020 and April 2021, 240
employees were trained in agile basics
training” (PowerPoint document general
I1, I2, and I3 = Three interviewed directors from Group A.
Therefore, Table 1 shows that Automov SA understood the need for change by
adopting agile methods to better adapt to the external environment. This understanding
was observed during the participation of one of the researchers in the organization and
reported by the three directors interviewed, citing this perception of the company's
president in Brazil.
The organization monitored the market, especially regarding new solutions in the field
of mobility and connectivity, and identified customer needs. Some of its managers visited
Silicon Valley in the United States to learn about and identify new technological trends
and other forms of management that could help some changes in the company to better
Table 1. Continued…
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adapt to the market and generate superior performance over competitors. This market
monitoring follows precepts proposed in Teece (2018), where the author presents
connectivity as one of the four major sources of change in the automotive sector.
Managers at Automov SA identified some factors necessary for organizational
change, such as flexibility and agility (Teece et al., 2016). After dedicating time and
resources to studying how to achieve these factors, it was understood that agile
methods could create opportunities and improve the company's operations.
Through the manifestation of sense, the company understood the need to develop
an agile culture and mindset in its environments and employees, gradually abandoning
traditional methods. However, as presented by Teece et al. (2016), in large and
traditional organizations, transformation can be more difficult, although not impossible,
and requires breaking paradigms and conventional ways of thinking, and demands
encouragement from leaders for a culture open to change.
In the same way, microfoundations of seizing (Teece, 2007) were evidenced at
Automov SA through the movement of resources to meet the needs of organizational
changes at Automov as. At the seizing level, incentives were identified for the study
and adoption of agile methods in the company and the creation of a new department
to drive agile transformation (BTO - Business Transformation Office) and a program to
develop agility (Delta program). The microfoundation of seizing (Teece, 2007) is
present at this stage.
Also, as a seizing action, the organization decided to gradually implement agility in
its task environments through POCs (proofs of concept), in specific departments, to
generate value first in certain engineering sectors and then share knowledge with other
areas that could benefit from agility.
It can be seen that the dynamic capabilities manifested from activities carried out at
the high organizational level (Teece, 2012, 2014), from the skills of managers in Group
A. The ability of managers at the highest level of the company to orchestrate and
combine new processes and technologies within a flexible and rapidly changing
framework supports Teece et al. (2016).
Consequently, microfoundations at the reconfiguring level (Teece, 2007) are
present in the organization's ability to recombine assets and resources to improve its
processes, such as the acquisition of an already structured company in an agile manner
and the hiring of 'agilists' or specialists in agility to provide consulting and team training.
Also classified at this level of reconfiguring is the company's new strategic planning in
2020, which was directed towards the development of agility.
The creation of agile teams or multidisciplinary teams in engineering departments that
involved new roles such as Product Owner and Scrum Master exemplifies manifestations of
capabilities at the reconfiguring level (Teece, 2007) at Automov SA. By Teece (2019), the
manifestation of dynamic capabilities at the reconfiguring or transforming level includes
processes, organizational structures, and effective governance mechanisms.
Corroborating concepts from other publications, the activities in Table 1 reinforce
the understanding that Automov SA has integrated and renewed its resources and
capabilities to better adapt to and anticipate changes in the market (Wang & Ahmed,
2007; Kurtmollaiev, 2020) and renewed its routines to improve their operational
performance (Zollo & Winter, 2002; Davies et al., 2016).
It is also understood in this article that dynamic capabilities can be used strategically
in the development of new products, resembling a process that uses resources to
create new strategies for generating value for companies in dynamic markets
(Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Peteraf et al., 2013).
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4.2 Advantages and challenges in adopting agile methods
The adoption of agile project management involves advantages and challenges as
identified in the three projects studied (Alfa, Beta, and Gama) at Automov SA, through
documentary research, participant observation, and interviews. For the construction of
Table 2, agile practices were classified into nine categories based on data obtained
from interviews with Groups A and B, reports collected during documental research,
and field diary notes recorded during participant observation. After re-reading, agile
practices were summarized, as well as their advantages and challenges, identified in
the first, second, and third columns of Table 2.
Table 2. Benefits and Challenges in the adoption of Agile Project Management.
- Reduction of waste and time;
- Focus on activities that generate value;
- Unified and synchronized teams.
- Not having a dedicated team led to
the need to work on other non-priority
topics outside the agile team.
- Lack of clarity about prioritization by
the Product Owner.
- Better organization of tasks;
- Reduction in response time;
- More assertive planning.
- Able to correctly carry out the Sprint
- Monitoring the project and other
departments that still used the
traditional management model.
- Reduction of meetings and time;
- Improved communication.
- Being able to perform all ceremonies
with non-dedicated people.
- Encourages people to question
themselves about the form of work and
its added value;
- Value creation;
- Improved team motivation and
- Difficulties related to the overlapping
of the existing culture in the company;
- Learn the agile method without
previous experience in the company;
- People are resistant to
- Breaking of “silos”;
- Greater autonomy of the teams;
- Reduction of human resources,
generating savings for the project.
- Breaking down departmental silos;
- Being able to work with the agile
method without having people 100%
dedicated to the project.
- People more protagonists, with greater
openness to participation and
suggestion of ideas;
- Increase people's motivation.
- Being able to manage people with
different maturities for self-
the Team Level
- Empowerment of employees;
- Faster decisions based on available
data per sprint.
- Hierarchy interference;
- Need for culture change;
Teams Located in a
- Fluid, organic, transparent, daily,
people-centered communication. As a
way to integrate the team and help in
carrying out priority tasks.
- Achieve exclusive dedication to the
- Restrictions on physical presence in
times of COVID-19;
- Transparent communication;
- Information is shared at all levels.
- Improved communication and
organization of teams working from
home through tools such as Microsoft
- COVID-19 context and loss of
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It is evident, therefore, that for each agile practice there are advantages and
challenges as shown in Table 2. The main advantages identified in the three projects
through the three data sources are presented in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Main Benefits Identified in Automov SA Projects.
The Alfa project stands out in terms of perceived advantages and corroborates the
observation made by the researcher that this POC has advanced far beyond other
project practices that were conducted in a traditional or sequential manner. This also
relates to identifying the factors needed during an agile team launch to be successful
(Rigby et al., 2018).
The main challenges identified in the three projects are shown in Figure 3. The
Gama project stands out in terms of perceived and faced challenges during the
implementation of agile project management, corroborating the observation made by
the researcher that this POC was the most difficult to implement in addition to having
the challenges pointed out by Dikert et al. (2016), being well present and poorly
Figure 3. Main Challenges Identified in Automov SA Projects.
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Starting with the agile practice of prioritization, the bad habit existing in the
organization of lack of prioritization of activities and focus (Sutherland & Sutherland,
2014; Rigby et al., 2016) was improved with the use of agile project management.
There was a prioritization of topics that generated greater value and, with that, waste
was reduced, time was reduced and the focus of the team was raised, which became
more united and synchronized. These factors have already been discussed and
presented as advantages by several authors (Cocco et al., 2011; Rigby et al., 2016;
PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; Zuzek et al., 2020).
Scrum already presents some tools that help with this planning, such as sprint poker
(Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014), in which the backlog is refined with the priorities to
be carried out by estimating the effort required to complete each activity and story. At
this point, the team can estimate the story by scoring the action using the Fibonacci
sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.), with the higher the number, the longer it takes and the
greater the level of difficulty to finish the story. Consequently, having a relative difficulty
level for each action, it is possible to effectively plan each sprint so that the team has
the confidence to carry out the actions during its sprint period.
4.2.2 Iterative planning
As for the agile practice of Iterative Planning, it was noticed that with its use, projects
gained greater organization, shorter response time to respond to activities, and more
assertive planning. Corroborating the understanding of some authors (Conforto et al.,
2014; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; PMI, 2017; Rigby et al., 2016), that this is one of
the bases of agility, even present in the agile manifesto (Highsmith, 2001).
4.2.3 Conducting Scrum ceremonies
As for the agile practice of holding Scrum ceremonies/events, there was a lot of time
gained as an advantage with the reduction of meeting agendas and communication
gains due to the format and regularity of Scrum meetings. These advantages have also
been defended by several actors (Conforto et al., 2014; Cervone, 2011; Sutherland &
Sutherland, 2014; PMI, 2017; Saisa et al., 2019; Zuzek et al., 2020). The practice of
daily meetings was presented in this research as a great provider of active
communication of teams and gain in response performance and completion of
activities. Regarding the associated challenges, the Beta and Gamma projects
presented some difficulty in carrying out all the Scrum ceremonies/events with non-
dedicated people. But they managed to get around the situation by making the team's
participation more flexible only when they had issues addressed to them in the daily
meeting, and by holding the sprint planning and review meetings with assertiveness
and objectivity to occupy less time for the participants.
4.2.4 Agile mindset
Regarding the agile mindset, there was a strong incentive from the company for
people to question themselves about the current way of working, what can be improved,
and how to work with what generates value. There was even greater motivation and
empowerment of teams (Koch & Schermuly, 2020).
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It was clear the enthusiasm of some with the use of agile methods and this
openness to work with their activities in a more agile mindset. This corroborates the
studies of some authors who present constructs such as innovation, learning, creativity,
and motivation as components of agile project management (Leybourne, 2009;
Gonzalez, 2014; Koch & Schermuly, 2020; Saisa et al., 2019) and that, in this context,
agility is not a practice or method in itself, but a mindset, a state of mind and
performance of a project team (Conforto et al., 2016; Nicholls et al., 2015). However,
the challenge associated with this factor was the difficulties related to the strong
traditional culture of the company, in which some resisted this new mentality
(Dikert et al., 2016; Albuquerque et al., 2020), believing that the form of the traditional
approach that it always performed was the most correct, and there was no need for
change, even with the company encouraging change.
Additionally, as it was something new for the people who participated in the Alpha,
Beta, and Gama projects, this was a challenge that was overcome through training and
lectures on the agile mindset.
4.2.5 Multidisciplinary and self-managing teams
As for the agile practices of multidisciplinary and self-managing teams, there was a
strong breakdown of organizational “silos”, reduction of human resources needed in
the project, greater autonomy of the team, people development to be more
protagonists, motivated, and greater openness to participation. and suggestions of
These advantages have already been defended by some authors (Nicholls et al.,
2015, Azanha et al., 2017; Dingsoyr et al., 2012; Rigby et al., 2016; PMI, 2017;
Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014; Conforto et al., 2014), which meet one of the bases of
agility, of people and individual motivations above processes and tools, present in the
agile manifesto (Highsmith, 2001).
The big challenges related to these agile practices are, being able to manage
people with different maturities, being able to break the departmental “silos” and
working with teams without having all the people with exclusive dedication to the squad.
To overcome this situation, it is necessary to have a strong figure of the Product Owner,
knowing how to perceive the different levels of maturity present in his team, and
knowing how to negotiate with the departments the exclusive dedication of key actors
of the project, exemplifying the improvements that this will bring to the company, such
as greater employee personal performance and greater focus.
4.2.6 Decision-making at the team level
As for the agile practice of decision-making at the team level, an excellent
application was noticed in the Alfa Project, resulting in greater employee empowerment
and faster decisions. This is in line with the understandings of several authors on agile
project management (Rigby et al., 2016; PMI, 2017; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014;
Conforto et al., 2014; Ruark, 2015). The challenges identified related to this practice
include interference from the hierarchy in decisions and the need for a culture change,
facts that must be circumvented by explaining the need for team autonomy in decisions
to their hierarchies, and encouraging them to welcome the decisions of teams and the
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4.2.7 Teams located in a single physical space
Another agile practice present in the Alfa project was related to the team being
located in a single physical space. So, the physical resources were redirected to
allocate the people of the squad in a single environment, facilitating fluid, organic,
transparent, daily, people-centered communication, as a way to integrate the team and
help in carrying out tasks and unlocking items. needed.
This corroborates studies that advocate the use of agile project management as a means
of gaining communication (Conforto et al., 2014; Cervone, 2011; Sutherland & Sutherland,
2014; PMI, 2017; Saisa et al., 2019; Hidalgo, 2019; Ruark, 2015). The associated challenges
were to obtain the exclusive dedication of some employees to the squad and to continue with
the physical presence in a single environment in times of COVID-19. This situation was
circumvented with remote work and the use of online tools that made possible this face-to-
face feeling of the team through technology, such as Microsoft Team, or Microsoft Planner,
which helped in the continuity of the squad with the use of rituals/ Scrum events.
4.2.8 Visual management
Finally, there is the agile practice of visual management, which promoted
transparent communication and information being shared at all levels of the team. Also
in times of COVID-19, it contributed to the communication and organization of teams in
the home office, through tools such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Planner. And
the challenge associated with this practice was precisely related to the pandemic
context, with the loss of work and face-to-face resources. But that was circumvented
with this “new normal” of remote work facilitated by agile online tools.
5 Discussions and propositions
5.1 Conceptual framework of agile project management
This section presents a conceptual framework containing the three groups of dynamic
capabilities activities and their relationship with the adoption of agile practices, their associated
advantages, and challenges, which is presented as an application proposal to guide the
implementation of agile methods in the automotive industry, as shown in Figure 4.
The conceptual framework was built from the content analysis of the interview data,
participant observation, and documental research. The manifestations of the
microfoundations of the dynamic capabilities most present in the cases studied and the
main advantages and challenges associated with the projects studied were selected.
The conceptual framework associates dynamic capabilities with agile project
management, characterizing the adoption of resources, such as agile methods, as a
consequence of the development and application of dynamic capabilities by the
company, which used agile methods to transform the project management model in the
environments of the organization's task. It was understood that dynamic capabilities
fostered agility (Teece et al., 2016), enabling the confrontation of agile project
management with the activities of creating and composing microfoundations of dynamic
capabilities at the levels of sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring (Teece, 2007). In other
words, it was understood how dynamic capabilities guided the adoption of agile methods
in the organization, relating the external environment to the internal (task) environments.
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Figure 4. Conceptual Framework for Implementing Agile Project Management.
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The results found were also synthesized based on the conceptual scheme of Teece
(2007), superimposing Figure 1 with the empirical data obtained according to Figure 5
For the construction of this figure, the actions identified in the three levels of sensing,
seizing, and reconfiguring were selected. more were mentioned in the interviews,
described in the documentation collected or observed by the researcher.
Figure 5. Foundation of Dynamic Capabilities Model Found at Automov SA.
From Figure 4 and Figure 5, conceptual relationships are proposed between the results
of the manifestations of dynamic capabilities and the implications of using agile methods (in
terms of advantages and challenges). In this way, possible analytical generalizations of this
study are discussed as a theoretical implication. This discussion aims to guide project
managers who need to implement agile project management in their organization.
In dynamic markets, organizations need to sustain competitive advantages to
remain present in the market, generating new ways to quickly make new products
available (time-to-market). Automotive industries, which have a long period of
development of a new product, such as a new vehicle, need to perceive opportunities
to develop their products in a more agile way and generate greater value.
Through the case study presented here, it was identified that the organization's
understanding of the need for change to adapt to the market brought significant gains
in terms of improving communication, agility, and value generation, preparing teams
and projects to develop their products faster to market.
Proposition 1. The more elaborate the organization's capacity is at the
SENSING level to perceive the need for change and adaptation to the external
environment, the greater its ability to create agility through new perspectives of
agile project management and communication
Industries that want to adapt to the market to sustain themselves in the competition,
can manifest micro-foundations of dynamic capabilities such as at the sensing level,
identifying new ways of managing their projects, such as with the use of agile methods,
to ensure good communication and facilitate efficiency. and success of actions.
Therefore, from the perspective of dynamic capabilities, it is understood that by using agile
methods in the management of new product development projects, companies can adapt
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more quickly to changes in the market and create competitive advantages from improvements
in their processes (Teece et al., 1997; Sutherland & Sutherland, 2014).
When the organization senses the opportunity (sensing) and starts to take
advantage of it (seizing), it must quickly study and outline how the new perceived
solution should be implemented in the company in the most correct way without causing
major challenges such as changing culture and mindset of employees.
The organization must gradually implement these changes, such as the application
of agile project management, through small groups that generate value and start to set
good examples for other projects.
In this way, being able to implement a new form of management, which provides
improvements in the work of employees, the company generates positive results for
the motivation of employees because they perceive the company's incentives to
improve the way of managing a project.
Proposition 2. The more elaborate the organization's ability at the SEIZING level
to create opportunities and take advantage of the benefits of agility through
new perspectives of agile project management, the greater its ability to cultural
and structural change, motivate and empower its employee collaborators
With the implementation of agile project management, the employee’s
empowerment and protagonism are evident, as they start to adopt an agile structure of
multidisciplinary and autonomy, leading to greater openness to participation and
suggestion of ideas.
To sustain a dynamic capability, the leadership skills of top management are
needed (Teece, 2007), which would have the function of managing assets and
corporate renewal, including changes and adaptations of routines. The Product Owner
and Scrum Master figures must play this leadership role, however, always making it
easier for the team to be self-managing.
The manifestation of the microfoundations of the dynamic capabilities of decentralized
decision-making (Teece, 2007), is present in an agile team because everyone has the same
level (no hierarchy) and decisions are made by the team, and no longer by a single one. boss.
This way, you can get different managers looking at different information and controlling
different decisions (without needing to communicate with a single central decision maker), all
to improve business flexibility and responsiveness.
An organizational design within the projects in the form of multidisciplinary and self-
managing teams encourages the autonomy of employees in the proposal of new ideas and
decision-making, providing greater team performance in the necessary project deliveries.
Changes in resources and processes in dynamic environments, as in the case of
the automotive industry, were essential for improving communication between
departments, breaking existing departmental 'silos'.
Proposition 3. The more elaborate the organization's capacity at the
RECONFIGURING level to transform resources through new perspectives of
agile project management, the greater its ability to adopt agile methods,
departmental integration and flexibility, formation of autonomous and cross-
functional teams, and performance improvement in project processes
Also concerning resources, it can be inferred that the dynamic capabilities defined
by Eisenhardt & Martin (2000), such as company processes that use dynamic
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resources as organizational routines to monitor market developments, can be
associated with the dynamic routine suggested by the Scrum framework. For example,
in the realization of sprints and daily meetings, in the adjustment of human resources
to have a cross-functional team with all the necessary skills to perform the tasks and
be autonomous, or even in the visual resources of project progress and deliveries such
as the Scrum board or Kanban.
It is also suggested the relationship between dynamic capabilities presented by
Zollo & Winter (2002) as the routines developed through the accumulation of
experiences and learning and the Scrum Sprint planning method, which are known as
learning cycles, because it can be applied to the lessons learned from the last Sprint
into the next Sprint, thus accelerating the use of new knowledge and the awareness of
errors along the project path.
Still, concerning the conceptual framework in Figure 4, it can be seen that the Alfa
Project, studied in this research, had all the main agile practices necessary for an
organization, managing to overcome the challenges they faced during agile project
management. Practices defended by authors such as Rigby et al. (2016, 2018),
Conforto et al. (2016), and Sutherland & Sutherland (2014). Consequently, causing
their agile team to advance much further than the rest of the project, other departments
or even the other Beta and Gamma Projects studied.
6 Final considerations
The purpose of this article was to study agile project management from the
perspective of dynamic capabilities and to develop a conceptual framework for adopting
agile methods to develop physical products in the automotive industry. Therefore, this
research was guided by the research question: “what are the dynamic capabilities
associated with the agile project management of product development in the
Understanding the relationship between dynamic capabilities and agile project
management helps explain the manifestation of micro-foundations at the sensing,
seizing, and reconfiguring levels that provide the organization with the skills necessary
for its survival, adaptation, and competitiveness. Additionally, this article empirically
justifies the applicability of the theoretical model of dynamic capabilities proposed by
Teece (2007), relating it to agility Teece et al. (2016) in the field of agile project
management. The article also informs managers and organizations about essential
dynamic capabilities that should be developed to favor the development of agility and
agile transformation in the enterprise. In addition, agile management studies carried
out in the software industry were extended to the automotive sector.
More specifically, this article contributes a new perspective on the manifestation
and influence of dynamic capabilities and agility in the context of project management
of new vehicles in the automotive industry. It could be said that the studied organization
had dynamic capabilities that favored the development of highly effective management
teams, robust organizational designs, and agility (Teece et al., 2016). From the results,
it was possible to suggest propositions that connected the three levels of
microfoundations of dynamic capabilities to agility in the organization's projects. The
propositions can be tested in future empirical studies through qualitative and
quantitative studies focused on adopting agile project management in organizations
inserted in uncertain and fast-moving environments.
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The results of this research can help managers who want to implement agile project
management in their organization, guiding them to identify micro-foundations of
dynamic capabilities. The results can also support the organization that aims to know
in advance which agile practices would be interesting for adoption in its projects.
Organizations can take advantage by knowing the benefits and challenges they will
face with the use of agile project management. Other relevant research results refer to
the confirmation in the field that (a) projects that are not organized to face the possible
challenges – that exist during the implementation of agile management in an
organization, as reported by Dikert et al. (2016) - have greater difficulties, like the Gama
Project, in obtaining the advantages and good results with the use of agile methods;
and (b) there is a need for the presence of some factors during a squad launch to be
successful, as reported by Rigby et al. (2018), as was the case of Alfa Project, which
had the factors highlighted by the authors and was considered a successful POC by
For future research, it is recommended to carry out additional case studies that can
empirically test, in other organizations and sectors, the conceptual framework and the
propositions suggested in this article. Research that can explore the limitations of
adopting agile methods is also recommended. We also suggest conducting empirical
studies to understand better the impacts of using agile methods, from the perspective
of dynamic capabilities, on the performance of projects in manufacturing industries.
Lisiane Sassi Ferreira was responsible for the conceptualization, data curation,
formal analysis, investigation, project management, validation and writing this study.
Farley Simon Nobre in the same way, was responsible for the conceptualization, data
curation, formal analysis, investigation, project management, validation, writing, and
supervised the study.
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