10 July 2010

Call for papers: Fuzzy Projects: Conceptual and Empirical Developments in the Management of Atypical Projects

A special issue of International Journal of Project Organisation and Management

As the world moves towards a Web 2.0 connected universe, the value of information and knowledge is growing and the pace and complexity of work is increasing. Changes are deep and wide. Manufacturing is moving from mass production to mass specialisation. The construction industry is growing to include sustainable development. The military is fighting lethal - yet intangible - enemies embodied in radical ideas. The service industry is adapting to concurrently satisfying multiple entities - individuals, groups, organisations, governments. Non-for-profit and non-governmental organisations are innovating in effectiveness and competing as any other organisation. Organisations used to deliver projects to external customers or within to their internal clients must now engage in inter-organisational collaborations that pierce through boundaries, affect each others’ operations, and thus change the nature of provider–customer relationships. For large organisations, “small” is the new “big” as they are moving from rigid structures and processes to flexible arrays of interdependent self-managed teams. For small organisations, “big” is the new “small” as they are structuring to accommodate instantaneous global operations and competition. Together, these forces are contributing to projectizing the organisation and management of work in ways far beyond the traditional views current bodies of knowledge, theories and practices were meant to support. In essence, we are witnessing the emergence of “fuzzy projects”.

We think of fuzzy projects as atypical projects that blur the lines of conventional wisdom drawn from a traditional view of project management. At one end of the continuum, fuzzy projects are light, flexible, boundaryless endeavours performed by seasoned, certified, and experienced project teams that are consciously tackling big and strategic projects in radically different ways. At the other end of the continuum, fuzzy projects are small endeavours that represent workers’ natural inclination to organise and manage their work as a project, unaware of project management theories, practices of bodies of knowledge.

In this special edition, we seek to encourage scholars and advanced practitioners to challenge doctrinal perspectives on project management, identify gaps between textbook descriptions of typical projects and the vast array of fuzzy/atypical projects, and provide conceptual models, dynamic theories, and empirical evidence in support of project effectiveness in an ever expanding and diversified projectized world.

Suitable topics for papers include but are not limited addressing the following issues:
  • Given that by definition projects involve temporariness and newness of outcome and process, what are the conceptual or practical distinctions between routinized delivery of similar projects (i.e., through PMOs) and projectizing ongoing operations (e.g., "every customer walking in the store is a project")?
  • To what extent do these hybrid forms of management help or hinder innovativeness, productivity, employee well-being, and team effectiveness?
  • How can organisations adapt work structures, policies, and jobs so that workers can successfully engage in a mix of "regular" ongoing work and "special" projects?
  • What traditional knowledge, theories, or practices are effective/ineffective in understanding fuzzy/atypical projects? Why?
  • What new knowledge, theories, or practices are necessary to understand fuzzy/atypical projects? Why?
  • Are success factors of fuzzy/atypical projects similar to typical projects? Why?
  • What role does tacit knowledge, common sense, and intuition play in managing fuzzy/atypical projects?
  • What is the least amount of project management knowledge required to manage fuzzy/atypical projects successfully?
  • What explains the successes and failures of fuzzy/atypical projects?
Important Dates
Submission Deadline: 31 March, 2011
Acceptance Notification: 1 September, 2011
Deadline for Sending Camera-ready Manuscripts: 1 January 2012


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