(p. v) Preface
(p. v) Preface
Projects are a ubiquitous part of our social and commercial life; their contributions serve as milestones in mankind's development, cultural achievements, and technical advances. But while “projects” have a long and honored history, “project management” has been, at best, an informal discipline, at least until the 1950s. Since then, however, its formal development has recast it as increasingly popular, and necessary, so much so that it is now a mainstream subject of general management.
Its growth over this past half-century has been heavily practitioner-led. Initially characterized by the tools and techniques it used, it was, and to a large extent still is, heavily execution-oriented (to complete an undertaking “on time, in budget, to scope”). Only towards the end of the twentieth century did a broader perspective begin to enter: one concerned with the front-end development period as much as the downstream delivery; one interested in the institutional conditions surrounding and enabling projects; one recognizing that projects are produced by, with, and for people who work together in unique organizational and commercial contexts based on the need to grapple with time-bound, budget-constrained, largely technical issues. Working with this broader, bigger canvas, a far richer landscape has emerged, and as the relevance of managing projects effectively within the modern economy has become more evident, so academic interest in the area has grown. No longer is project management a branch of production management, it is now—well, what?
Project management is many things to many people. Its vibrancy is obvious—as testified by the astonishing number of conferences held on it around the world every year. It continues to develop at a rapid pace, both conceptually and in its practical influence. As this book shows, it is still open to many different interpretations, at several different levels.
Academic scholarship has an important role in shaping this development: in sense-making and path-building; in bringing rigor, improving understanding, and teaching good practice. Yet to date there are very few books which address the subject comprehensively from a solid academic research perspective (or perspectives). That's what we've begun to do with this book.
The book is not the definitive compendium on the complete intellectual base to the management of projects. The field is too large for that, and frankly, as a rapidly emerging discipline, it would not be possible for any one book to find the perfect moment to capture and bottle it—not yet at any rate. But it does present and discuss (p. vi) many of the leading ideas in the domain, doing so by drawing on the contributions of over forty of the world's foremost academics in the area.
We'd like to begin this book therefore by acknowledging our thanks to all our contributors, most of whom have had to put up with a fairly extended critiquing and editing process: thanks then for their patience; thanks above all for the quality of their contributions. For us, the book's editors, this has been quite an extraordinary process: we are amazed at how positively everyone responded to the many challenges that were thrown up.
In acknowledging the contributors we'd also like to thank all the institutions and people who, whether directly or indirectly, made possible our work in putting this book together: to our employers and colleagues, to our families (bless them all).
Thanks finally to OUP for taking the initiative to suggest this book, and for publishing it.
We believe passionately in this field. We hope the book reflects this, and the commitment all have brought to bear in writing it. We hope therefore, above all, that you, our readers, will find it stimulating and useful.