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Marcel Veenswijk Professor Management of Cultural Change Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Culture of Project Management NETLIPSE, Zurich, October 20 th.

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Presentation on theme: "Marcel Veenswijk Professor Management of Cultural Change Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Culture of Project Management NETLIPSE, Zurich, October 20 th."— Presentation transcript:

1 Marcel Veenswijk Professor Management of Cultural Change Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Culture of Project Management NETLIPSE, Zurich, October 20 th

2 Introduction The Culture of Project Management. Understanding Daily Life in Complex Megaprojects

3 Is Culture relevant for Projects….? ‘All over the place’ where people work together; Driver of collaboration between (public and private) partners; Defines environmental orientations and generates identity; More general: Interpretation web which frames processes of internal integration and external adaption

4 A Cultural Perspective on Mega-Projects ‘Organizations as Cultures’: Multi-layered configuration; Shared meaning; Rooted in history; Reproduced and modified in interaction; Manifest on different layers of reality.’

5 5 Artifacts: -Symbols, Rituals, Language Values and norms: –orientations of awareness (environment, organization, clients) Basic Assumptions: – Implicit assumptions (time and space) Layers in organizational culture

6 ‘ When/Why is Culture an ‘issue’ in Projects’ Economic crisis:quest for new concepts Explosive studies Peters&Waterman and Deal&Kennedy Downselling ‘grand narrative’ rational management ‘Birth’ integration perspective culture: - all noses same direction - shared core value programs - new corporate culture ‘Monday morning’

7 Research COM study Consequences of ‘cultural contraction’ in aftermath Parlementairy inquiries (5 countries) Symptoms: A lack of trust relation between public sector ‘client’ organization and private companies Procedural unclearness in the various tendering stages Insufficient insights in necessary public versus market competences ‘We need new cultural stuff’ Conclusion: focus on diversity and cultural pitfalls

8 Concepts Cultural Change: Integration or Differentiation? Integration Unity Cooperation Central Actor Ambiguity out On the same page Differentiation Diversity Conflict Arena Ambiguity in Flowers in the field

9 Anthropological Research: Participation in the Field ‘In depth’ study 15 Megaprojects worldwide Multi-discipliary team Social Scientists 5 PhD projects International collaboration (ICAN,EI,RF, NGI) Concentration on ‘Cultural Risks’ Intervention driven

10 Dominant Cultural ‘Pitfalls’ 1. Ignoring Cultural interfaces in Projects 2. Blinded by Mirrors of ‘Display Doctrine’ 3. Blocking Dilemmas of Daily Practice 4. Denying Cross-Cultural Diversity (PPP)

11 Gideon’s tribeDiplomats Culture wars (1)Ignoring Cultural interfaces in Projects: Case Environ

12 . Gideon’s tribeDiplomats Competences creative, dealing with chaos, entrepreneurial, independent, result oriented, young, non- bureaucratic  risk avoidance, diplomatic, empathetic, trustworthy, control Cultural valuesInnovation Unorthodox uniqueness lawfulness, integrity, reliability Consequences: 1. Rivalising ‘truth claims’ 2. Emergent Culture wars’ 3. Risk ‘deadlocks’

13 2. Blinded by Mirrors of ‘Display Doctrine’ Consequences: -Reproduction ‘frontstage’system language -Suffering Selznick’s syndrom

14 (3) Blocking Dilemmas of Daily Practice ‘Surviving The Competing Values Arena’ The loneliness of the Project-director The Tragedy of the Environmental Manager The Paranoia of the Financial Expert The Fixation of the Legal consultant The Manic state of the Contract-Manager

15 Mapping the Cultural blocks Legal expert: Voice: -Thoroughness Environmental Manager voice: - Societal/customer interest Financial expert:. Voice: - Security - Predictability Contract manager: Voice: - ‘Getting things done, no matter what’ External orientation Internal orientation Product Process

16 (4) Denying Cross-Cultural Diversity Private Partners Sectoral: Trapped in Institutional Images Rivalizing management styles Mutual Distrust National: Cultural differences in Europe (Anglo-Saxon/Rheinland/ Latin model)

17 Why Second Life Recent Intervention Research on Public Private Collaboration: ‘The Second Life Experience’

18 ‘Creating a playground for interaction’ Action focuses Learning Experience in ‘Backstage culture’ Platform for collaboration and networking; Open to External Influences; Simulation of Projects in condensed Time and Space Frames: tendering procedure underground Dutch Economic Hotspot; Unique Possibilities for Monitoring and Evaluation (VU bought own Research Island); Enabling Virtual Ethnography;

19 .

20 Conclusions Megaprojects are made by human beings Each project phase needs employees with specific competences Project culture needs to be managed during the life cycle of a megaproject Reflexivity is needed to change old rituals and behaviour in the infrastructure sector


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