چارچوب فرایندی برای تحقیق تجویزی نظری در زمینه مدیریت پروژه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|3323||2013||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||10618 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Project Management, Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 43–56
Prescriptive research is at the heart of the project management (PM) disciplines. For decades, researchers and practitioners alike have been searching for methodological solutions to practical project management problems. Scheduling methods or risk management methodologies are just two examples. Despite this long tradition of prescriptive research, PM methods suffer from a number of problems, such as a lack of acceptance in practice, limited effectiveness, and unclear application scenarios. In this article, we identify a lack of empirical and theoretical foundations as one cause of these deficiencies. Based on a review of existing PM literature and a thorough analysis of other successful prescriptive disciplines, we develop a framework designed to serve as a guideline for theoretically grounded prescriptive PM research. The framework outlines how theories and empirical investigations can help build applicable and useful prescriptive research results. We illustrate our framework by applying it to the case of the critical chain method. Our contribution is twofold: our research results can foster the discourse on methodological support for prescriptive PM research; it may also help set up viable prescriptive research designs.
Methods for successfully initiating, planning, executing, and closing projects are at the heart of the project management (PM) discipline. Scheduling algorithms or risk management methodologies are just some prominent examples of such management methods, which constitute the notion of PM as an action-oriented2 discipline that helps people and organizations solve practical problems in the context of projects (Shenhar and Dvir, 2007). The development of such methods is a major concern of project management practice and research alike, which is why one would have expected PM to have reached a high level of expertise and maturity in delivering methods to solve practical project problems. Surprisingly, the opposite seems to be the case: Numerous studies report on serious problems related to proposed PM methods. The problems are diverse; they include: • The usefulness and effectiveness of PM methods cannot be proven (Crawford, 2005; Thomas and Mullaly, 2007). • There is a lack of universal applicability as well as a lack of consideration of the usage environment (contextual factors) and antecedents of successful application of methods (Besner and Hobbs, 2006, Morris et al., 2006 and Russo et al., 1996). • PM methods suffer from low adoption and individual acceptance rates (Ahlemann et al., 2009). These problems are a major challenge for practitioners, who are interested in useful approaches to master project management; it seems as if no simple remedy is available, as too little is known about when, why, and how PM methods actually work. In many cases, we lack an empirical foundation and deeper theoretical understanding of PM methods beyond their mere application (Packendorff, 1995 and Williams, 2005). Theories can help us ground the design of PM methods on existing knowledge with a high degree of validity, and an empirical foundation could lead to better PM methods that provide an idea of the extent of and conditions for their effective use. Even more, we believe that a theoretically and empirically sound foundation and testing of PM methods are indispensable if PM is to gain legitimacy and credibility as a branch of science with a cumulative research tradition and a solid body of theoretical knowledge (Cicmil and Hodgson, 2006, Packendorff, 1995, Smyth and Morris, 2007 and Whitty and Maylor, 2009). In the following, we use the term prescriptive research to denote this action-oriented form of science, which is concerned with the development of recommendations on how to solve practical problems (“how”). In contrast, theoretical research often tries to describe reality (“what”) and seeks to explain and predict phenomena (“why”) (Gregor and Jones, 2007 and Hevner et al., 2004). Prescriptive research results mostly require adaptation prior to their use in order to account for contingencies in the usage environment. Furthermore, practitioners have to ensure that the organization is willing to adopt the research results (Davies and Kochhar, 2000 and O'Dell and Grayson, 1998) by taking the required measures. Prescriptive research can, but does not have to, draw on a particular epistemological stance. Recommendations on how problems can be solved can either be the result of an interpretive research process, or a positivist approach. For example, the former may materialize in a research process with experts exchanging their experience and finally agreeing on the problem solution, while the latter may form the basis for experimental research designs. Although the two processes differ in terms of their philosophical underpinnings, they are both forms of prescriptive research. While this paper focuses solely on prescriptive research, we regard theory building as equally important; furthermore, it has a particular relevance in respect of prescriptive research by providing the foundation. In this article, we will first review the scientific PM literature and analyze its state regarding theoretical and prescriptive research results. This will help us deepen our understanding of the extent to which the design of PM methods is theoretically and empirically grounded as well as what challenges current researchers face when conducting prescriptive research. We will then describe how other prescriptive research disciplines approach method development and method testing. Due to their high maturity, we concentrate on evidence-based practices and design science research and investigate how they construct viable solutions to real-world problems. Based on these findings, we will then derive a process framework for prescriptive PM research that explains how theoretical and empirical insights can form a basis for the design of PM methods. To demonstrate the framework's use, we apply it to the case of the critical chain method, which is a rare example of sound method development and evaluation in the PM discipline. The last section summarizes the findings, draws final conclusions, discusses our study's limitations, and presents future research opportunities.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this article, we discussed the nature of research in the project management discipline and diagnosed the field as being characterized by abundant prescriptive and conceptual research that often lacks a solid theoretical and empirical grounding. While perhaps not the only reason, we can conclude that this is one explanation for the low levels of acceptance, adoption, and success of PM research results. It often remains the case that professionals and researchers know too little about how prescriptive research results should be applied, when they are useful, and how they yield the intended benefits. A call for a more systematic, theory-driven, and empirically grounded approach to developing PM problem solutions seems a logical response to this problem. In this article, we have sought to learn from two of the more mature approaches to prescriptive research. We analyzed the discourse on evidence-based and design research to identify guidelines, principles, and lessons that also pertain to the PM discipline. We subsequently synthesized these findings into a framework that explains what needs to be done in prescriptive PM research and points out how these activities can be approached. We use the critical chain methodology as an example to illustrate our framework. We regard our work's contribution to be twofold. First, we hope to stimulate discussion about more empirically and theoretically grounded prescriptive PM research, thus helping the discipline advance. Second, we offer the framework as a guideline for developing individual research designs. In general, researchers may apply our framework for any kind of prescriptive research project. However, they still have to make numerous methodological decisions, for example, regarding the solution design or the solution evaluation. Different kinds of construction, data collection, and data analysis techniques, based on potentially very different epistemological and ontological stances, may be applied. Our framework may very well be used in “practitioner-driven” settings in which researchers and professionals jointly develop new approaches to project management problems. In this context, the framework can be easily combined with an action research approach (Avison et al., 1999) following a plan-do-check-act cycle. This would not only strengthen the validity of the results, but would also foster adoption. At present, the proposed framework has not been evaluated following our own recommendations, which might be considered a limitation of our work. However, the case of the critical chain method, lessons from the neighboring disciplines, and our own past prescriptive research experiences underline the framework's general applicability. Another aspect worth mentioning is that our work is a high-level framework that allows a researcher many degrees of freedom. This particularly includes the selection of specific design and evaluation methods. Neighboring disciplines offer a wealth of options here, and researchers may make their own methodological decisions, depending on the nature of the solutions they want to create as well as relevant contextual factors. No generally applicable framework can fully reflect the reality of diverse problem solutions and research scenarios. This reveals further research opportunities, because the PM discipline has, to date, offered almost no detailed methodological advice for prescriptive research. In this regard, our framework may by step into the direction of a proper research methodology for project management.