A discourse on the non-method

Bredillet, Christophe (2013) A discourse on the non-method. In Drouin, Nathalie, Müller, Ralf, & Sankaran, Shankar (Eds.) Novel Approaches to Organizational Project Management Research Translational and Transformational. Copenhagen Business School Press, Universitetsforlaget, Copenhagen, pp. 56-94.

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In spite of the activism of professional bodies and researchers, empirical evidence shows that project management still does not deliver the expected benefits and promises. Hence, many have questioned the validity of the hegemonic rationalist paradigm anchored in the Enlightenment and Natural Sciences tradition supporting project management research and practice for the last 60 years and the lack of relevance to practice of the current conceptual base of project management. In order to address these limitations many authors, taking a post-modernist stance in social sciences, build on ‘pre-modern’ philosophies such as the Aristotelian one, specially emphasizing the role of praxis (activity), and phronesis (practical wisdom, prudence). Indeed, ‘Praxis … is the central category of the philosophy which is not merely an interpretation of the world, but is also a guide to its transformation …’ (Vazquez, 1977:. 149). Therefore, praxis offers an important focus for practitioners and researchers in social sciences, one in which theory is integrated with practice at the point of intervention. Simply stated, praxis can serve as a common ground for those interested in basic and applied research by providing knowledge of the reality in which action, informed by theory, takes place. Consequently, I suggest a ‘praxeological’ style of reasoning (praxeology being defined as study or science of human actions and conduct, including praxis, practices and phronesis) and to go beyond the ‘Theory-Practice’ divide. Moreover, I argue that we need to move away from the current dichotomy between the two classes ‘scholars experts-researchers’ and ‘managers/workers-practitioners-participants’. Considering one single class of ‘PraXitioner’, becoming a phronimos, may contribute to create new perspectives and open up new ways of thinking and acting in project situations. Thus, I call for a Perestroika in researching and acting in project management situations. My intent is to suggest a balanced praxeological view of the apparent opposition between social and natural science approaches. I explore, in this chapter, three key questions, covering the ontological, epistemological and praxeological dimensions of project management in action.

  1. Are the research approaches being currently used appropriate for generating contributions that matter to both theory and practice with regards to what a ‘project’ is or to what we do when we call a specific situation ‘a project’?

  2. On the basis of which intellectual virtues is the knowledge generated and what is the impact for theory and practice?

  3. Are the modes of action of the practitioners ‘prudent’ and are they differentiating or reconciling formal and abstract rationality from substantive rationality and situated reasoning with regards to the mode of action they adopt in particular project situations?

The investigation of the above questions leads me to debate about ‘Project Management-as-Praxis’, and to suggest ‘A’ (not ‘THE’) ‘praxeological’ style of reasoning and mode of inquiry – acknowledging a non-paradigmatic, subjective and kaleidoscopic perspective – for ‘Knowing-as-Practicing’ in project management. In short, this is about making a ‘Projects Science’ that matters.

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ID Code: 61683
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Aristotle, praxis, research, HERN, practice, theory
ISBN: 9788763002882
ISSN: 1566‑1075
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Copenhagen Business School Press
Deposited On: 05 Aug 2013 22:26
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2015 19:12

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