Project management maturity : a critical analysis of existing and emergent contributing factors

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This thesis explores the dynamics of a reliable project management capability responsible for undefined projects, and proposes new factors that could influence how project management maturity is determined and modeled. It demonstrates that unique processes and practices—that are not tightly controlled, repeatable and predictable—can contribute to the reliable management of e-Learning projects in a university environment. A multimethod research design is used with two qualitative methods: textual (document) analysis of industry and organizational maturity models, and a case study of two university offices responsible for e-Learning projects. Model analysis reveals factors used for maturity assessment that are not dependent on process control (for example, culture, customer involvement and values). The output is a conceptual framework reflecting these factors, along with instructional design processes and other properties indicating reliability. Data are collected using this instrument and analyzed to test the validity of its components. Results indicate multiple processes and practices that enable this project management capability in ways that do not fit the current view of project management maturity. Context-specific values and policies, specialized bodies of knowledge (instructional design), customer involvement, third-party influence, and tacit factors such as trust, morale and creativity. A clear path emerges of an alternative route to project management maturity. This inquiry underscores the value in questioning a strict definition of 'maturity‘ that relies on the key principle of process control. It challenges the prescriptive orientation of the current generation of project management maturity models that codify (thereby legitimizing) certain processes and practices, leaving little room to appreciate unexpected phenomena that might also be contributing. Further research can build on the typological framework offered here to critically examine other project types with undefined, even contradictory or changeable requirements that require flexible project management capabilities without sacrificing their reliability. Exploration of these environments will create a more inclusive definition of project management maturity, and expand the conditions that lead to 'mature‘ project management capabilities. This research contributes to this exploration by offering new and specific factors integral to the reliable project management capability associated with managing an e-Learning project, and challenges researchers and practitioners to identify others.
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