Action Research in Project Management: An Examination of Australian Project Managers.

International Association of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
ICERI 2012 Proceedings, 2012, pp. 5857 - 5867
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This paper will present a methodology used to investigate how project managers in Australia exchange knowledge while managing projects. The personal drivers, the workplace environment, and tools and techniques used to facilitate this knowledge exchange process were explored based on a literature review and through action research. An action research methodology was selected to study project managers in a social setting. Action research is defined as an 'emergent methodology [where] method and data and interpretation and action develop simultaneously, and from cycle to cycle'. The research sample included multiple project managers with a minimum of ten years project management experience who were employed full time as project managers in Australia. The project managers worked on projects across a variety of industries and held either a formal qualification or a recognised professional certificate in project management. The sample size was based on work undertaken by Kotter in the late 1990s when observing how managers and leaders worked. The research method included convergent interviews, in situ observations and collaboration with the project managers to reflect on how they exchanged knowledge. This form of data collection included three 'interventions' where meetings with the project managers occurred and the consequences were reflected upon before a re-planning process took place. The interventions were designed to understand the personal and workplace context in which the project managers exchanged knowledge and the tools and techniques used in this process. To ensure validity and a level of rigour in the research method, quality strategies were adopted which included the formation of an external reference group. This group included representatives from project management industry associations, academia and practitioners that were either experienced in project management or the academic rigour required for research. Through using action research to understand how project managers exchange knowledge, the researcher interprets the facts through their own experiences which contradict the search for knowledge which traditionally has been based on science.
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