The role of project portfolio management in fostering both deliberate and emergent strategy

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Journal Article
International Journal of Project Management, 2017, 35 (4), pp. 557 - 570
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd and Association for Project Management and the International Project Management Association Formal strategy processes have been shown to be insufficient in shaping strategy, particularly in turbulent environments. Emerging strategies that constitute independently from deliberate top-down strategy processes are important for organizational adaptability. This study explores strategic control mechanisms at the project portfolio level and their influence on emergent and deliberate strategies. Based on a sample of 182 firms, we show that both deliberate and emerging strategies positively influence project portfolio success, complementing each other. In turbulent environments, the relevance of deliberate strategy implementation decreases. Strategic control activities not only foster the implementation of intended strategies, but also disclose strategic opportunities by unveiling emerging patterns. Furthermore, we find that deliberate strategy implementation and emerging strategy recognition mediate the performance impact of strategic control. Our findings suggest that strategic control at the project portfolio level has an important role to play in the purposeful management of emergent strategies.
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