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Oscillations between Open and Closed Systems : Project Management in Research and Development

Matthews, Judy H. & Shulman, Arthur D. (2000) Oscillations between Open and Closed Systems : Project Management in Research and Development. In US Academy of Management Annual Meeting, August, Toronto. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Traditionally project management takes a prescriptive view of the procedures required for product or process development and these tend to be scaled down versions of the engineering/logistic practices put into place to coordinate workflow for large scale military and construction projects. Project management tools and practices of tight specification of products at the beginning of the project, typical of closed systems have not been useful in R&D, where the outcomes of research are uncertain. More recently project management has been examined as temporary structures or temporary organisations. These temporary structures are construed as open systems, characterized by flexibility and divergence in relation to project development and outcomes. Current normative models tend to cast project management as either closed or open. We question this polarity. Using data from fifty R&D projects in the agricultural sector we find that, without exception, project management practice in R&D is both open and closed, with shifts between modes. These shifts are characterized by changing dances in whom, when and under what condition participants are invited into and out of the R&D arena. We conclude that this oscillation between modes is purposeful and if successful, leads to optimal performance.

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ID Code: 20848
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: open systems, closed systems, oscillations, research and development, project management
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 27 May 2009 14:48
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2011 03:27

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