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Research_

Cross-sectoral expertise

Learning across sectors
Lessons shared across project-based sectors including infrastructure, new energy, software, organisational change and new project-based industries.

We believe that there is substantial opportunity for project sponsors, leaders and managers to reflect on their own practice and learn across sectors. Our executive education provides the opportunity to learn across sectors, and our research contributes to the international research field on project studies. In our research we have been developing new insight into project leadership and future-making online. 

Our research approach is multidisciplinary, as a hub bringing together leading research and practice across disciplines to address the big challenges associated with project leadership in a changing world. We draw on the deep expertise across the University of Sydney, and the latest work of scholars at the international forefront of thinking on questions of governance and leadership. Through bringing together multi-disciplinary research teams, we have developed significant expertise working within and across project-based sectors.

Infrastructure

With an unprecedented pipeline of major projects in planning, we will work with infrastructure owners, operators, project sponsors and the delivery supply chain to tailor lessons learnt from international best practice and to develop new insight. We will start by conducting empirical research in the megaproject ecology in the Greater Sydney area, seeking to understand and support the development of the infrastructure innovation ecosystem across Australia and to contribute to international best practice. 

We are interested in the patterns of changes in governance structures and outcomes delivered through major infrastructure projects and programs, as well as the potential to strengthen the learning across projects through the various forms of formal and informal organising that interconnect projects to support improvements in practice in areas such as systems integration. 

This work leverages our Better Infrastructure Initiative, including recent work with Transport for New South Wales, and the work that Professor Jennifer Whyte conducted before joining the University of Sydney. We anticipate developing new partnerships to draw on expertise across the University of Sydney, with the School of Civil Engineering, Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies.  

New energy

There is significant and growing interest in new energy projects, and in decarbonising production to achieve net zero. We are interested in the delivery of new energy projects, their conception, start-up, delivery and outcomes, from the Snowy Hills Hydro to large-scale solar farms and domestic solar. This is an area in which there is deep expertise in the Advisory Board, and in which we anticipate new connections, for example within the Faculty of Engineering, and groups such as the Centre for Sustainable Energy Development. 

Software and technology

We have experts on a range of project models, including agile approaches that are suitable to be used in software projects as teams of coders come together to work on shared software development, or different types of engineers collaborate to provide technical solutions.  As digital information becomes pervasive many other forms of projects – from infrastructure delivery to organisational change projects – also have a software component. We are interested to work with companies involved in software, from small start-ups to major international companies that integrate new software into significant existing code bases, and anticipate new collaborations across the Faculty of Engineering. 

Organisational change

Projects that require organisational change are often among the most challenging. We have a number of strands of research relevant to organisational change projects, productivity, human resource management, concepts of work and careers, diversity and culture. 

In new work, we are studying the relationship between major projects and the governing boards of the organisations that deliver them. The aim is to enable senior project managers to effectively engage with their boards and to enable boards to take a more effective role in the governance of major projects. This work will conduct empirical case study research into the processes that one or more organisations use to manage the merger and acquisition process as a project. 

New project-based industries

Not only do scholars write about the ‘projectification’ of society, but in recent years the project studies community has become interested in a range of new kinds of projects, for example those informally organised in a distributed manner through grass-roots organising, or those that do not deliver assets, e.g. projects to remove nuclear facilities. Our research on projects for sustainable and resilient futures examines project leadership in a range of new forms of project organising, in conservation, bushfire recovery, humanitarian engineering and other non-traditional forms of project organising. Our work on organisational change thus also contributing to the extension of project management into a new application domain, as mergers and acquisitions, although bearing many of the basic characteristics of projects, are rarely conceptualised this way. We are interested in new emerging industries that are project-based, and also the lessons they suggest for project leadership in traditional industries.