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Thursday, July 13 • 16:30 - 17:00
3016 Transdisciplinary Research: Methodological Insights in the Emerging Study of Sustainability in Project Management

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The ‘truths’ of project management are changing with increasing attention being paid by practitioners and researchers on climate change and other public priorities. Projects and their management are recognized as “a way to sustainability” and sustainability is recognized as a developing theme in project management research. With the examination of the relationship between sustainability and project management increasing, a more detailed review of the associated research designs can now occur. The purpose of this research is to identify methodological insights that indicate and guide the transdisciplinary research in this field.

As sustainability is a topic that crosses several disciplines, such as physical sciences, natural sciences, ecology and social sciences, its research requires transdisciplinarity. Project management similarly crosses multiple disciplines as seen in papers concerning ‘schools of thought’ contributing to project management and complex applied problems requiring innovative and novel approaches . Preliminary analysis of the methods of a ‘sustainability school’ indicate conceptual studies of an interpretive nature, giving meaning to how the concepts of sustainability could be interpreted in the context of projects, or of a normative nature, prescribing how sustainability should be integrated into projects.

Scholars in project management have also been urging project management researchers to use translational research by borrowing research methods from other disciplines. Research in sustainability requires systemic thinking and project management researchers would benefit from systems research approaches that also support transdisciplinary research. Scholars of systems thinking have also labelled issues arising from sustainability as ‘wicked problems’ and urged the use of systems methodologies in transdisciplinary research.

A systems approach to project management offers a framework that connects the change associated with an individual project (at a micro level) to an intermediate (or meso) level where the results of a particular project could address a larger societal issue (eg, climate change). Beyond this—at the ‘macro’ level—project managers can see how their projects contribute to not only the sustainability of the planet, but its thrivability. And its partly through the incremental work of project management researchers that a fourth stage of ‘protopia’ can be described…one where nuances of societal progress could be as valuable (or even more) than the great leaps associated with traditional measures of project management success.

In this paper we will identify strategies used by researchers who have investigated sustainability in project management, describe specific methods, and propose how future research could be designed that can further evolve the field towards transdisciplinarity.

Thursday July 13, 2017 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
2nd Floor, Room SR 125, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

Attendees (4)