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Cactus spiral

Project management and leadership

Enabling effective delivery of value through projects

Drawing on soft systems thinking, social network analysis and complexity theory, our researchers provide new insights and approaches to support the people, teams, networks and organisations that deliver projects. 

Our research

Our experts: Dr Ken Chung, Dr Petr Matous, Dr Shahadat Uddin

Projects can be seen and understood through the interplay of people, organisations, technologies and the environment. Our project researchers apply social-network analysis to study the impact of social interaction on projects, team performance, project and organisational communication, group learning and behaviour, use and impact of social media and technology, and multi-organisational disaster coordination.

Our projects include the application of social-network analysis to:

  • project stakeholder engagement
  • impact of community structure and social networks on projects in developing countries
  • individual and team learning and performance in virtual contexts
  • expertise coordination in teams
  • project leadership.

Our experts: Professor Lynn Crawford, Dr Ehssan Sakhaee, Associate Professor Julien Pollack

Our collaborator: Dr Maurizio Floris

All projects are fundamentally social activities, involving a dedicated team collaborating to achieve business objectives, often in contested, political, and ambiguous environments. Effective teams need to develop trusting patterns of behaviour and positive relational norms if they are to operate at high levels of performance. This can be problematic in projects, due to pressure to show progress towards project goals.

People are at the heart of projects and they are a focus for several streams of our research including:

  • developing leadership capabilities for projects
  • trust, motivation, power and influence in teams, projects and organisations
  • project career paths
  • gender and diversity in projects.

Our experts: Associate Professor Julien Pollack, Professor Lynn Crawford

Our collaborators: Ms Sharon Coyle, Mr Mike Seymour

The traditional model of project management assumed the delivery of projects in relatively stable and predictable environments. Increases in complexity and uncertainty, technological advances, social change and disruption all demand more responsive and adaptable development. New project models and approaches are required. Our researchers draw upon systems thinking and complexity theory and look to project approaches in non-traditional areas such as change management, disaster response and film production to extend existing models and enable practitioners to more effectively manage projects in complex, dynamic and sometimes unpredictable environments.

Our experts: Dr Li Liu, Dr Louis Taborda, Professor Lynn Crawford

Projects do not exist in isolation; they are undertaken by and on behalf of organisations, and  need enabling environments and supporting capability for success. This stream of research addresses organisational project management capability and its influence on the delivery of value. It includes research into project sponsorship, project-based organisational structures, governance and control, benefit and value, portfolio management and multi-project delivery models.