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Human Resource Development and Project Management: Key Connections

LILA LENORIA CARDEN Houston Baptist University TOBY MARSHALL EGAN Texas A&M University
As human resource development (HRD) efforts increase in scope, complexity and link to increasing numbers of key stakeholders, so do demands for careful and systematic execution of HRD implementation. Use of project management strategies and tools is an emerging solution for HRD implementation. Using a systematic literature search, intersections between project management and HRD literature are outlined. Key findings are presented for both articles that explore project management and HRDrelated issues explicitly as well as emerging HRD literature that may have import for HRD-related concerns. A summative figure, conceptual framework, propositions for HRD project management, and implications for research, theory, and practice are discussed. Keywords: project management; management; human resource development

For as long as humans have been undertaking complex tasks, project-oriented approaches toward getting work done have been central to individual and collective success. Historical accounts regarding the origins of human resource development (HRD) often involve recounting of apprenticeship relationships, craft guilds, and networks of franchises whereby skilled individuals could manage projects that coordinated the production of goods important for the basic functioning of societies and (later on) industries (Werner & DeSimone, 2006). Such project-related practices date back hundreds, if not thousands of years. These accounts, along with more narrow perspectives regarding the U.S.
AUTHORS NOTE: Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lila Lenoria Carden, Assistant Professor, Management, College of Business and Economics, Houston Baptist University, 7502 Fondren Road, Houston, TX 77074-3298; e-mail: lcarden@hbu.edu. Human Resource Development Review Vol. 7, No. 3 September 2008 309-338 DOI: 10.1177/1534484308320577 2008 SAGE Publications


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and European education for work efforts beginning in the mid-1800s, are associated with industrialization and modernization, which strongly influenced the manner in which work was completed. Other accounts have emphasized the U.S. Training Within Industry Project (Dooley, 1945) in which the name of the massive undertaking to train the World War II era industrial workforce itself emphasized HRD-related efforts as projects. More recently, several HRD scholars highlighted the importance of project management for HRD. Whether developing a system-wide strategic plan, enacting an organization development (OD) intervention, producing a new training curriculum, or supporting individual on-the-job learning, HRD activities are most often organized into projects. Project work has become an increasingly prevalent in organizations worldwide and is an important consideration for organizational success (Packendorff, 1995). Project management has become an essential organizational competency (Fuller, 1997). As project management research, methodology, and theory development have increased so has organizational and individual investment in project management knowledge and personnel (Kerzner, 2001). Although HRD project management connections are implicit in HRD practice and practice literature, and project management has been included in university HRD curricula, research and theory linking project management and HRD is limited. HRD approaches and processes have been examined in terms of implementation of necessary steps to achieve a HRD-related outcome, but the management of the HRD process itself has been rarely explored. We have spent a lot of time talking about how to conceptualize and implement OD, training and career development (CD), but little time examining the management of implementation or the impact of efficient or inefficient execution of HRD interventions themselves on desired outcomes. Although project management is a field with its own professional associations, journals, international certification programs, and increasing number of professionals, the direct examination of the important intersection between HRD and project management has been uncommon. Contrary to the limited accessibility of related literature, anecdotal evidence from HRD practice and support from HRD scholars (Fuller, 1997; Gilley, Eggland, & Gilley, 2002; Henderson, 2005; Krempl & Pace, 2001; McLagan, 1989; McLean, 2006) suggest investigation of project management in HRD to be of importance for HRD implementation, learning, and performance.

Problem Statement
This examination of HRD-project management connections emphasizes two contextsliterature exploring HRD-related areas with explicit connections to project management and an emerging nontraditional project management literature that has implications for HRD-project management. While practice advanced well ahead of theory during the early to mid-1900s, the general project



management literature has also steadily progressed during the past few decades. As the importance of project management has emerged, key terms such as learning, participation, renewal, and innovation have become associated with the project management practices (Packendorff, 1995). Despite the importance of project management for HRD success having been frequently highlighted (Fuller, 1997; Gilley et al., 2002; Henderson, 2005; Krempl & Pace, 2001; McLagan, 1989; McLean, 2006), there have been few theoretical or empirical investigations conducted, examining the impact of effective project management for HRD. Although project management has been proposed to support HRD practitioners and organizations, the absence of research and theory associated with project managementHRD connections means that we have little understanding regarding project management practices in HRD contexts. This lack of research leaves open questions as to how project management is and can be approached in HRD contexts, the types of systematic approaches to project management that are actually used in HRD implementation, and what approaches are effective or ineffective. Different from many other understudied HRD-related areas, there is an established project management literature outside of the scope of HRD that, similar to HRD literature overall, has been steadily growing and making contributions to theory, research, and practice. This literature has formed to improve understanding regarding project management outcomes and processes (Jugdev & Mller, 2005). However, until recently, project management literature focused almost exclusively on traditional project management contexts (construction, engineering, manufacturing, utilities, and information technology; Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2002). Although some theoretical perspectives may overlap, the specific nature of literature in these traditional areas of project management makes transfer to HRD contexts difficult in most cases. Within recent years, as it became clear that a variety of industries beyond the aforementioned traditional areas were benefiting from project management approaches, project management literature has begun to expand into a wide assortment of contexts, including HRD-related areas. Because of the newness of this expansion, the literature in any one nontraditional area associated with HRD or other industries and contexts is relatively thin. However, understanding the foci and directions of these emerging studies, including those beyond specific HRD emphases, will be beneficial to early efforts to frame theory and research with HRDproject management connections (Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2002). Thus, despite established practical implications, little energy has been dedicated to HRDproject management connections by HRD scholars, and no efforts to frame future theory building have been published.

Purpose and Central Questions

Based upon the both practical and scholarly significance of project management and HRD intersections. We formulated two central purposes for our


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investigation. First, we wanted to better understand the landscape of literature that overtly examined HRD-project management connections. Project management has been identified as important to HRD in textbooks, is featured particularly in OD and training and development, and is included in core or support coursework in several HRD graduate and undergraduate curricula, but project management HRD intersections are not frequently elaborated in the context of scholarly inquiry. Second, because the project management field has begun to explore emerging areas and programs beyond the relatively narrow project management literature that has, historically, focused on traditional areas such as engineering and construction (Kerzner, 2001), we were interested in how emerging project management research and scholarship, beyond the limited literature related to project managementHRD connections, had developed in recent years and the potential associations with HRD-related interests. Our specific questions were: (a) what scholarly literature integrating project management and HRD exists currently? (b) what is contained in the current scholarly literature focused on emerging (or nontraditional) project management topics? (c) what are the themes that surface from the overall literature identified in #1 and #2 above? and (d) what are the implications of the current state of the identified literature for HRD and for future project managementHRD research?

To enact the purpose identified, we conducted two systematic reviews of literature. The first search of literature involving connections between HRD and project management and a second search for emerging project management literature (defined in the following sections). Articles identified in the search of HRD-related journals were selected based on their connections to OD, training and development, CD, HRD, or related areas. Search for Articles Focusing on Project Management and HRD Connections Based on our purpose and focus questions, we reviewed refereed journal articles only. The literature identification process for selection of articles that focused on HRD and project management included a subject/keyword search for project management in 29 HRD-related journals in August 2006. The first search involved only those works published by Dooley (2002) and Sleezer and Sleezer (1998). Search for Nontraditional Project Management Literature The second literature identification process included a keyword search for project management (a) in Emerald database during February 2005 returning



304 articles, (b) International Journal of Project in EBSCO database on October 2005 returning 277 articles, (c) Project Management Journal in EBSCO database returning 240 articles, (d) Project Management Journal in EBSCO in March 2006 returning 24 articles, (e) International Journal of Project Management in March, 2006 returning 14 articles, and (f) Emerald database in March 2006 returning 21 articles. The 880 articles were distilled further based on the following four criteria (a) date range from 1968 to 2004; (b) scholarly publications defined as articles with seven or more pages, more than four scholarly references, and blind reviewed; and (c) data related to nontraditional contexts that (with support from Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2002) were defined as research in industries other than engineering, electrical, utility, manufacturing, and construction. The total number of journal articles identified from the 37 total journals (listed in Table 1) from both searches outlined above was 103. In addition, following thematic analysis of article topics, the remaining articles were categorized (a) as theory if a theory was identified as a focus or support in the framing of the article; (b) as a model if a model, cycle, or process was emphasized in the article; (c) as tools if any word such as tool, technique, software, schedule, financial, technology, network, or resource, was highlighted in the article; and (d) as research if data in the article were collected from participants to the research/study. Summaries of literature identified in both searches discussed above are below. Themes and summaries from the search identified above (project management and HRD) are followed by a discussion of the emerging project management literature.

Project Management Overview

According to Packendorff (1995), a project can be defined as a given, plannable and unique task, limited in time, complex in its implementation and subject to evaluation (p. 320). Project management was originally focused in construction and engineering industries and has expanded, over time, to other industries and contexts (Betts & Lansley, 1995). The utilization of project management has grown into academic, industrial, service, and professional contexts. Based on analysis of articles outlining historical perspectives of project management, we developed four key periods in the general history of project management emergence, refinement, human resource, and performance. In addition, an overview regarding HRDproject management connections is discussed. During the emergence period of the early 1900s, project management was established as an orderly work-related framework and was provided as a tactical and strategic approach to chart and implement projects. In 1910, Henry L. Gantt established the Gantt chart and two decades later, Karol Adamiecki formed the network-based harmonogram (Packendorff, 1995). According to Packendorff, project management moved to a stage of refinement in the mid-1900s. During the 1950s, project management became more theoretically and mathematically oriented, adding refined algorithms and project-planning techniques. Program


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Journals Featuring Project Management Articles

Academy of Management Journal Academy of Management Review Benchmarking College and Univ. Personnel Assoc. Journal European Journal of Operational Research Group and Organization Studies Human Relations Human Resource Development Quarterly Industrial Management & Data Systems International Journal of Project Management International Journal of Public Administration International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management International Journal of Technology Management Journal of Applied Behavioral Science Journal of Applied Psychology Journal of Enterprise Information Management Journal of European Industrial Training Journal of Industrial Teacher Education Journal of Knowledge Management Journal of Management Development Journal or Organizational Behavior Journal for Vocational and Teacher Education Journal of Workplace Learning Logistics Information Management Management Decision Management Education and Development New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education Organization Development Journal Performance Improvement Quarterly Personnel Psychology Personnel Review Project Management Journal Public Administration Quarterly Public Personnel Management R&D Management Team Performance Management The Learning Organization

evaluation and review techniques (PERT) and critical path methods (CPM) and other techniques were presented, utilized broadly and, in some cases, the tools or approaches themselves were closely researched or evaluated (Pinto, 1998). During the 1960s, project management scholarship grew and transformed to human resource period. This period emphasized project management effectiveness at the individual, team, and organizational levels (Packendorff, 1995). The



human resource period emphasized resources and managerial concerns in the context of organizational projects. The human resource aspects of project management emphasized during this period included: (a) resource allocation (Archibald, 1976; Butler, 1973; Kerzner, 2001; Wilemon & Ciero, 1970); (b) project team issues (Butler, 1973; Hodgetts, 1968); (c) project manager competencies (Casey, 1978; Gullett, 1972; Kerzner, 2001); and (d) project management alignment of human resources, authority, and leadership (Baker, Murphy, & Fisher, 1983; Butler, 1973; Gullett, 1972; Hodgetts, 1968). The performance period is an emphasis for project management today. During 1990s, project management success and failures were focused upon in the literature. Key emphases were project quality, timeliness, and budgeting. Performance and resource-based publications identified include: (a) organizational structures and project performance (PMI Global Standard, 2004; Shenhar, 2001), (b) alignment and synergy across business units and senior management (Cash & Fox, 1992; Jiang, Klein, & Means, 2000), (c) projectrelated negotiation and communication (Archibald, 1992; Fabi & Pettersen, 1992; Zimmer & Yasin, 1998); and (d) project leadership competencies. More recent years of project management have involved a focus on the increasingly dynamic contexts that are often technology driven and involve sophisticated support tools. More current literature also focuses on greater emphases on performance improvement, demands for immediate results, and a dramatic pace of change. Project management has evolved into complex, global, and mutually dependent contexts whereby calls for systematic approaches to project management research have paralleled recent claims regarding the influence of some research on project management outcomes (Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2002). The expanding appeal of project management today is consistent with workplaces commonly focused on performance and which rely on ongoing growth whereby project management is utilized as an essential element for organizational success.

HRD and Project Management

Gilley et al. (2002) declared that, all too often, many HRD leaders do not recognize this as an essential responsibility and thus fail to provide a practical approach and techniques to planning and managing projects (p. 231). HRD is defined in a variety of ways including as the integrated use of training and development, career development, and organization development to improve individual effectiveness (McLagan, 1989, p. 7). Findings from large-scale studies have led to the identification of a number of HRD-related roles by McLagan (1996) including HRD strategic advisor, HR systems designer and developer, organization change consultant, organization design consultant, learning program specialist, instructor/facilitator, individual development and career consultant, performance consultant, and researcher. Project management has been identified as an important element for success in each of these roles (Gilley et al., 2002).


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The need to better understand and execute project undertakings led to the development of the field of project management which, similar to HRD, often engages at the point of intersection between scholars and practitioners. The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of the project by using modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality, and participant satisfaction (PMI Standards Committee, 1987, p. 4-1). Many definitions of HRD (see Weinberger, 1998; Woodall, 2001) and even more HRD texts and articles frame HRD interventions as projects or emphasize processes and outcomes in a manner that aligns with project management (Swanson & Holton, 2001; Werner & DeSimone, 2006). There are numerous HRD activities and interventions requiring project managers and appropriate project management approaches (Fuller, 1997). A project management system is a key element to HRD and OD interventions (McLean, 2006). According to McLean (2006), establishing an effective approach to project management is essential in the early stages of action research and OD and throughout implementation of HRD-related interventions. Although HRD and project management practice and literature have greatly expanded over recent decades, the intersection of these two areas has not been comprehensively examined. Gilley et al. (2002) positioned project management as central for the success of HRD implementation. Understanding the scope of literature exploring project management and HRD connections is important for HRD and organizational success and project management itself is an essential frame through which organizational action can be examined.

Summary of Literature
Researchers suggest that projects fail to deliver quality products because of inadequate planning, lack of alignment with resources and deliverables, inadequate change management, and insufficient feedback processes (Cicmil, 2000). To that end, project management and HRD connections and emerging project management are operationalized in organizational settings because of the need to ensure that project planning and execution are aligned with strategic goals to support resource requirements and to assist in successful change management deliverables. The literature integrating project management and HRD provides a means for planning, controlling, and executing project initiatives. A thematic review of the literature noting project management and HRD connections included articles divided into several sections, and particularly (a) failure statistics, (b) OD, (c) CD, (d) leadership, and (e) organization theory. These sections summarize each of the systematically selected articles for project management and HRD literature connections. A review of the emerging project management literature included research that was related to broad areas of industries including banking, pharmaceutical,



NeoInstitutional Temporary Organization Signaling Detection Theory

Action In Project Queuing Knowledge Flow Resource Based

Project Planning and Controlling Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management

Project Management and HRD Literature



Performance Communication and Technology

Quality Management Human Resources Leadership Organization Development Career Development

Project Outcomes


Project Management and HRD Literature: Key Themes

consulting, advertising, legal, healthcare, safety, and emerging manufacturing and industrial sectors (Kerzner, 2001). Figure 1 includes the related articles divided into several sections including: (a) project management related models, (b) project managementrelated theories, (c) project management specific research and findings, and (d) a discussion of related project management tools. These sections summarize each of the systematically selected articles from emerging project management literature. HRD and Project Management Five HRDproject management intersections were identified in the reviewfailure statistics, OD, CD, leadership, and organization theory. Of the aforementioned articles, those publications associated with intersections between project management and HRD are reported as follows.


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Failure statistics. By analyzing project success data made available to the 15th International Project Management Association (IPMA) World Congress, reasons for project failures and the results were assessed. In the early 1990s, 77% of U.K. projects failed and 83% of U.S. projects failed. The reasons for project failure identified include: inadequate definition; poor or no planning; wrong leader; scope not defined; inappropriate team; ineffective controls; poor communication; unrealistic timescale (IPMA, 2001, p. 866). In addition, 80% of the U.K. projects had no project management conceptual framework and U.S. experts cited poor project scope definition and loss of control during the design and implementation phases as the explanation for cost overruns (IPMA, 2001). There was an identified need to more clearly identify critical success factors (CSFs) in the early stages of projects so that project success and failure could be better understood. Because the central reason for project failures identified points to the potential impact of project management learning and development on project management success, HRD-related efforts are identified as clear solutions to project management improvement. Organization development. Henderson (2005) reported the findings of a survey of members within the OD and Change Division of the Academy of Management. The survey findings reported that the top seven foundational skills within OD include: project management, communication, collaborative work, problem solving, use of new technology, conceptualizing, presentation and education, and coaching skills. According to Henderson, project professionals are significantly trained to use logical and systematic methods to plan and control projects (p. 14); therefore, based on the findings from this study, co-creating strategic OD engagements with project managers who know its genesis can be a boon for OD consultants in affecting significant change (p. 17). Project management provides a framework in which to define OD engagement requirements. More specifically, OD consultants work with project managers to develop activities including visioning, reflecting, and safeguarding to alleviate time constraint pressures. Project management and OD activities are geared toward a systematic execution of activities with the end goal of successful integration and participation from all work streams within an organization (Henderson, 2005). Career development. Gutteridge (1986) reported career development represents the outcomes created by the integration of individual career-planning activities with institutional career management processes (p. 54). The subprocesses of career planning include job choice, organization choice, job assignment, and self-development. In addition, career planning includes the identification and selection of individuals to align job skills with job assignments. CD in the identified literature focused both on CD for those in project management roles and organizational decision making about individuals associated with project management initiatives. The latter has clear implications for



the CD of employees selected for organizational projects as involvement in successful project management initiatives are not only important individual CD experiences but also often lead to new career opportunities. There is often not a clear career path for moving from a management position to a temporary project management position. For instance, as an increasing number of organizations expand their global operations, there is a need to identify and select qualified managerial candidates for oversees projects. There is also a need to implement a systematic method to organize identification and selection of expatriates (Harvey & Novicevic, 2001). The systematic method identified includes (a) identification of expatriate candidates, (b) analysis of candidate competencies, (c) determining learning methods for candidates, and (d) identifying thinking styles of candidates. According to Tsai, Moskowitz, and Lee (2003), resource selection is important to project management because resources drive project completion, reducing project costs, project duration, and project risks. The authors suggest the use of computational approaches applying their resource-based view of project management. More specifically, an integrated, efficient computational method based on design of experiments to solve the software resource selection problem, in which a critical resource diagram (CRD) is recommended as an early part of the project design (Tsai et al., 2003, p. 167). The CRD provides a framework for selecting appropriate human resources; decisions which tie directly to the CD opportunities for managers and employees. Leadership. Lee-Kelley (2002) reported on a survey of project manager leadership styles and management of changing project boundaries and related interfaces. Findings from the study included the following conclusions:
Project managers are not overly affected by internal market mechanisms or constraints on face-to-face interactions. However, certain project variables such as project objectives, team size, frequency of team changes and project duration play significant roles in the relationship between the project leaders and his/her perception of project difficulties (p. 461).

These research findings suggest that (a) there is no relationship between leadership styles and perceived influence on project time frames and delegated and selected number of projects; and (b) the longer the project time frame the larger the team size, and the greater the perception that the manager selected the project. According to Manley (1975), project leader efforts are integrated within the informal organizational structure overriding formal communication requirements. The openness presented to managers of key projects allows them to access to stakeholders. During the enactment of the project plan, even where the project group is small and members have to draw upon the resources of supporting independent organizations, traditional chains of command tend to be ignored (p. 180). The project manager directs the implementation of the initiative and as such must have a high tolerance for ambiguity, a good working


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understanding of basic management principles, consummate people skills, a general understanding of the various technologies, and a strong desire to be where the action is (p. 182). Organization theory. Temporary organization has emerged as a theory reifying modern-day experiences of organizational life as a collection of projects and activities rather than a monolithic deployment of a whole system strategy (Packendorff, 1995). According to Manley (1975), projects are temporary initiatives and can be viewed structurally as a company within a company. Projects can be conceptualized from a systematic perspective including a system composed of multiple interdependent subsystems and its members devote much of their initial effort toward gaining an understanding of the nature of the interdependence as well as the impact of the environment (Manley, 1975, p. 180). One of the most important impacts of a project management structure is that it provides a framework for linking planning and implementation functions (Manley, 1975). Another key consideration associated with project management success is structural support within the system or organization in which the project is being undertaken. Because of the ways in which projects may span cross-functionally, project management is ideally unbounded by organizational hierarchies, structures, processes, and line-of-authority. As a practice, project management is used to accomplish non-recurring goals bound by time, place (or situation), resources, and particular scopes of work (Henderson, 2005, p. 11). The balanced matrix approach to structuring an organization has been championed as one of the organizational frameworks that produce more efficient project work. In the balanced matrix approach, functional and project managers have equal authority and as such creates opportunities for conflict (de Laat, 1994). Therefore, there is a need for more empirical analysis to determine which organizational structure is more conducive for the industry or organization type. Associated with organization structure, risk management has been couched as one of the functions that should be planned and managed in software development initiatives to ensure project success. McGrew and Bilotta (2000) demonstrated that signal detection theory (SDT) can be used to gather data in which to minimize the impacts of intervention and response bias on risk management plan. More specifically, the unbiased estimator enables comparisons across projects and facilitates the effectiveness of risk management plans. Each of the sections above summarized project management articles from HRD-related journals. Although each contributed to the framing of HRD and project management connections, the number of articles was limited. To identify additional areas that may inform these connections, articles identified to be undertaking in emerging areas of project management were also examined. The summary of these articles and a figure encapsulating themes from all identified articles is featured below.



Emerging Project Management Literature For the most part, project management scholarship has been focused on traditional areas such as construction and engineering, but it has been broadening to cover a larger number of industries and contexts. For the purposes of this study, emerging project management literature is defined as articles identified in a systematic search of literature (discussed earlier) that are situated in nontraditional project management contexts/industries. Four key themes from the literature are reviewed (models, tools, theories, and research) are explored. Models. Models have typically been used as a process to control, track, and implement a series of phases, steps, or patterns. For example, a model provides a framework with which organizations can conduct a formal assessment of their current project management capabilities and, thereby, determine action plans (change initiatives) that need to be completed to improve project performance (Kendra & Taplin, 2004, p. 43). In addition, models are used by project managers and project team members as frameworks to increase the efficiency of project activities and resources (Kerzner, 2001). More specifically, models provide structure and organization for scheduling, performance tracking, communication, and management activities. Based on thematic analysis, identified models were divided into project planning and control models and human resource management models. Project planning and control models focus on strategic goal execution using quality improvement for planning, coordinating, and executing project tasks. More specifically, project planning and control processes and cycles include scheduling, updating tasks, data management, and reporting capabilities (Kerzner, 2001). For example, project life cycle is a construct that has developed as a model for organizational processes including decision priorities (Smith, Mitchell, & Summer, 1985) and productivity criteria (Cameron & Whetton, 1981). Human resource project management includes the processes that organize and manage the project team (PMI Global Standard, 2004, p. 199) including processes that are related to human resource planning, acquiring the project team, developing the project team, and managing the project team. More specifically, human resource management models are focused on developing teams as well as team members with an emphasis on enhancing and supporting performance. The articles identified provided project management related models that examined resource allocation, cost control, data management, project roles, reporting relationships, training, team-building activities, personality characteristics, conflict management, and learning or knowledge development. The next section examines theoretical elements in identified literature. Theories. Project management is considered an evolving field of study and as such does not have a fully established theoretical background (Jugdev, 2004). Project management often integrates theories from other well-established


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disciplines/fields including management, human behavior, psychology, and operations. For example, some project management theories have been constructed using basic topics including the use of a common terminology and frameworks, avoiding tautologies, and the merits of analogies (Jugdev, 2004, p. 15). Several approaches to theory development or clarification take the form of analogies, integrated relationships, facts, or systematic procedures. As stated by Jugdev (2004), theories are important because they help explain and predict events, patterns, and trends (p. 16). Seven theoretical perspectives associated with project management were gleaned from identified literature including: neoinstitutional organization theory, action in project theory, queuing theory, knowledge flow, temporary organization, a resourcebased view, and transformationaltransactional leadership. Neoinstitutional organization theory defines projects as tasks to be accomplished and is based on the premise that projects are institutions that are reproduced based on actions implemented during previous experiences (Packendorff, 1995). More specifically, rather than viewing organizations holistically as linear mechanistic systems, institutions are reduced to a set of projects that are considered as tasks to be accomplished. The theory was famous during the 1980s and purports that the conceptions related to tasks are not unique and can be associated with numerous entities. Action in project theory focuses on the human interaction within the project organization leading to the outcome of the project (Packendorff, 1995, pp. 329-330). The premise of this theory is based on the enactment by individuals and emphasis is placed on investigating the expectations that form the action base, and the learning that occurs as a result of the action (p. 330). The studies, related to projects as action systems, target the actual individual behavior rather than the expected behavior. Levy and Shlomo (1997) suggested a queuing-theory approach to minimizing frequent delays and cost overruns. The interest in queuing theory is motivated by the belief that the understanding of causes and interactions creating congestion and delay is important to the effective design of congestion-control algorithms. The authors introduce the queuing penalty to quantify the penalty for delays and frequent cost overruns of parallel executed projects. In addition, the authors reported that there is no practical way to totally avoid the penalty but that the goal is to minimize the penalty. Approaches to reduce the queuing penalty include minimizing cost by maintaining on schedule projects and to minimize the idleness of high-capacity cost groups (Levy & Shlomo, 1997). Snider and Nissen (2003) introduced a knowledge-flow approach to project management. The theory is predicated on a dynamic perspective of knowledge as a solution, as experience, and as socially created (Snider & Nissen, 2003). The theory includes four dimensions that are focused on knowledge flow including explicitness, reach, life cycle, and flow time (Snider & Nissen, 2003, p. 7). Snider and Nissen further argued that knowledge-flow framework provides a more enhanced approach to project management research and theory development that provided by project management BOK [body of knowledge] (p. 11).



Turner and Mller (2003) framed a discussion about the project viewed through the lens of organization theory. The authors contended that within existing organization theory a project can be defined as a temporary organization to which resources are assigned to undertake a unique, novel and transient endeavor managing the inherent uncertainty and need for integration in order to deliver beneficial objectives of change (Turner & Mller, 2003, p. 7). In addition, the role of the project manager is flexible and includes identifying and communicating project tasks, encouraging project team members to complete project tasks, and aligning project strategies and goals with internal and external objectives. Jugdev (2004) created a resource-based theory of project management based on Arnoults (1972) classification of theories including metaphors, analogies, reductionist (simpler) concepts, and abstract (mathematical) relationships. She compared the genomes of humans to an organizations tangible resources entitled strategic asset genome (p. 22). Furthermore, Jugdev (2004) focused on project management as a strategic asset that must be maintained and extended by using business processes, methodologies, and frameworks to implement strategic initiatives. Barber and Warn (2005) discussed the leadership requirements for project managers by reviewing the literature and developing a framework to link transaction and transformation leadership styles. The findings report that proactive leadership is more success driven than reactive decisions, including monitoring project plans and budgets. In addition, project managers need to pay more attention to the progress of their project and forestall any problems rather than just being reactive problem solvers (Barber & Warn, 2005, p. 1032). McGrew and Bilotta (2000) demonstrated that signal detection theory can be used to gather data in which to minimize the impacts of intervention and response bias on risk management plans. Furthermore, signaling theory can be used effectively to describe success in software development initiatives. More specifically, the unbiased estimator (or true approximations for the project being assessed) enables comparisons across project and facilitates the effectiveness of risk management plans. As outlined in Figure 1, these theories provide interesting frameworks by which to examine project management and point to future opportunities for theory development and research. The section that follows explores project management research as identified by the aforementioned search process. Research. Research builds on the literature, models, and theories and thus is useful in identifying practices and applications that are useful for project initiatives. More specifically, project management uses generally accepted knowledge and priorities to execute projects and as such there is interest in the patterns, trends, and future directions in which to frame project planning and execution. The literature further provides suggestions for researchers, as it relates to advancing the maturity of the project management profession.


Human Resource Development Review / September 2008

Project management research has focused on (a) human resource issues including competencies, leadership, responsibilities, and incompatibility and misalignment of authority; (b) leadership; (c) CD; (d) OD; (e) project outcomes; and (f) quality management. These six areas have been included in Figure 1 as research categories. Packendorff (1995) posited that research needs to focus more on action in projects to study human resource issues. The basis of this idea is that the combination of action and knowledge can improve the quality of projects by focusing on integration, human resource management, and communication. More specifically, since 1992, research has focused more on human resource issues, teamwork and relationships, leadership, and CD. Pinto (1998) posited that project management and politics are linked and that the project managers job is not only to handle technical issues but to also manage project team and stakeholder behaviors, including conflict resolution. According to Kerzner (2001), The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple, functional lines. In order to do this, the project manager needs strong communication and interpersonal skills (p. 9) and leadership and technical skills in which to lead the project team and organization to implementation. The research that has focused on leadership and CD suggest that certain leadership styles and skills are needed to successfully drive projects to completion and that those skills can either be learned and developed through activities. Project management research has primarily focused on the factors that determine project outcomes including a projects success or failure. The assessment of the project implementation has been evaluated from a variety of positions and based on multiple criteria including quadruple constraint (Pinto & Prescott, 1990). Pinto and Prescott (1990) have expanded the measures to include criteria related to quadruple constraints and include project mission, top management support, schedule/plans, client consultation, personnel, technical tasks, client acceptance, monitoring and feedback, communication, and trouble-shooting (p. 315). Pinto and Prescott conducted a field study including survey data from project managers from manufacturing and service industries. The findings from the study revealed that project success should be regarded as a multiple-factor construct rather than a single construct. Pinto and Prescott reported that project planning was the thrust for project success and should be monitored throughout the project. Additional findings revealed that tactics were important as CSFs only during the execution phase of the project life cycle (Pinto & Prescott, 1990). Project management methodology is used to strategically frame the activities of the project manager and project team to reduce project failures and to ultimately achieve quality based on continuously improving processes. The phases of a project include task and quality activities that sequentially guide the project from initiation to close out. Furthermore, project managers utilize tools and techniques along with people to ensure quality deliverables are on time, within scope, and within budget. Therefore, there is a connection of knowledge and action that can be used to frame behaviors from a practical view based on a quality-control



leader actively engaging in transactions to plan, organize, monitor, and report findings to maintain a dynamic balance with the organization, resources, tools, and the external environment. Tools. Tools have been developed as some mechanisms to ensure that even the smallest activity moves towards the ultimate goal: successful project completion (Lai, 1997, p. 174). Therefore, some proponents of project management methodology suggest that disciplined management processes (Kerzner, 2001, p. 741) based on past experiences and internal and external factors need to be considered as a part of the framework for project implementation (Chatzoglou & Macaulay, 1997). Tools are used throughout various phases of the project and include planning and monitoring, scheduling, performance, and communication and technology. Planning and monitoring tools assist project teams in coping with complex management and organizational decisions, managing masses of data, and meeting project deliverables on time and within budget (Kerzner, 2001). Project-scheduling tools are used to manage the activities, performance, and time associated with project completion. Project-scheduling tools include: (a) program evaluation and review techniques, (b) critical path method, (c) GANTT chart, and (d) milestone chart (Lai, 1997). Each of the tools uses a different technique for tracing time control. Performance tools are used to assist in increasing project performance. The tools facilitate identification of stakeholders with an emphasis on their roles and influences. Performance tools entitled quality assurance have been developed to control the outcomes based on limits including speed, costs, and quality. Communication and technology tools are used to communicate the processes and procedures to human resources and to transfer knowledge. In addition, technology tools are used as a means to visualize, reduce, and manage project risks. In terms of HRD-project management connections, our review points to a number of opportunities to enhance the literature examining project management utilization in the context of HRD. Figure 1 encapsulates 4 major themes and 19 subthemes from our systematic review of literature. The review confirmed that, although limited, both HRD and project management connections are featured in HRD literature and that emerging literature in project management also has relevance for HRD. It is also clear that the literature reflects a few types of interaction between project management and HRD. There are clear examples in the literature highlighting not only the relevance of project management in specific HRD contexts but also a need for conceptual and theoretical development regarding project management and project management lifecycles in HRD.

Limitations and Implications for HRD

Several limitations regarding available studies were determined in the literature reviewed along with some clear opportunities for future HRD-related


Human Resource Development Review / September 2008

research. In several cases, a common method to collect participant data in many studies increased possibilities for overstated relationship between constructs. In addition, several studies used small, nonrandom, or unclearly described sampling techniques. Many of the studies reported used cross-sectional designs exploring project management from a fixed point in time. The results from this systematic search of the literature point to a clear need for longitudinal designs and more advanced statistics such as multivariate analysis, structural equation modeling path analysis that compliment a more complex examination of the multiple factors that may contribute to project management in HRD generally and project success at the leadership, team member, and environmental characteristics levels along with more specifically defined project management processes and outcomes. Although several related theories were identified, the theory-based studies utilized needed to be repeated in many cases for utilizing the aforementioned sampling and methodological improvements. It should also be noted that although important to this line of investigation, there was a void of qualitative inquiry presented. Studies using other than quantitative approaches are warranted. From the practice perspective, there is much more that can be done to contribute to the elaboration of project management in human resource contexts, available literature is simply falling short regarding project management in HRD. Despite the limited amount of this kind of literature, project management literature, including a large amount of project management theories, research, models and tools, appears to be transferable to HRD contexts; however, it is important that these transferable concepts are elaborated in the context of HRD. In addition, there is much room for the development of project management overall and there is an absence of conceptual or theoretical model that examines key elements associated with HRD project management success.

A Conceptual Framework for HRD Project Management

Although a handful of articles identified featured some elements of HRDproject management connections and the nontraditional project management literature also provided some relevant insights, there is a need for more narrowly organized research and theory building associated with project management in HRD contexts. Joo (2005) and Wanberg, Welsh, and Hezlett (2003) undertook HRD-related literature reviews and, based on their analyses, proposed conceptual frameworks in support of future research in their respective areas of investigation. Similarly, we have concluded that the development of a HRD project management conceptual framework would be beneficial. Our approach was influenced by the aforementioned authors. As Torraco (2004) expounded, opportunities for theory building in HRD are numerous. Accordingly, the three overarching aspects needing to be addressed in the development are: (a) the absence of a common framework and explicit assumptions in support of HRD theory building, (b) the lack of well-tested



HRD theory-building approaches, and (c) a need for shared understanding regarding core concepts of HRD theory and theory building (Lynham, 2000). As examined above, although theories associated with project management have been identified, theoretical and conceptual development regarding project management in HRD has relevance for the field and is in need of explication. Although there is an ongoing possibility that project management knowledge from the general project management literature and practice can inform project management in HRD, the unique elements associated with HRD efforts and the interdependence between HRD intervention success and related project management are important considerationsparticularly as project management knowledge relates to HRD outcomes. Van de Ven (2007) advanced a systematic process for engaging theoretically based research studies: (a) analyze the situation or problem as it occurs naturalistically, (b) decide upon a research question and conceptual model to address the situation or problem, (c) utilize an appropriate theory or theory-building approach and design a study to examine the research question, and (d) execute a research study and analyze findings toward development of a solution. As with the aforementioned examples we address the first two steps in the Van de Ven process. The conceptual framework (Figure 2) is organized for the purposes of focusing on key steps or issues associated with project management of HRD. For the purposes of focus, HRD is conceptualized in terms of an intervention which is consistent with HRD and related action research literature (McLean, 2006; Swanson & Holton, 2001; Werner & DeSimone, 2006)HRD intervention development, HRD intervention deployment, HRD intervention implementation, and HRD intervention evaluation. The overarching factors examined in the conceptual framework address these process steps through consideration of relevant antecedents, process issues, outcomes proximal to the HRD intervention project, and distal outcomes associated with the scope of the project at the individual, group, or organizational level. Based on the conceptual model, propositions and related rationale are presented in Table 2. Overall, the conceptual framework and related propositions were an introductory attempt to illustrate some of the key factors associated with HRD project management. There is more work that can be done by considering the potential impact of general project management literature for some of the variables and propositions outlined; however, it was important to first consider key elements in the conceptualization of project management in HRD.

We reported key findings related to exploring HRD-related areas with explicit connections to project management and an emerging nontraditional project management literature that has implications for HRDproject management connections. HRDproject management explicit connections included findings related to failure statistics, OD, CD, leadership, and organization theory. In addition, the (text continued on p. 335)



A Conceptual Framework for Successful HRD Project Management

TABLE 2: Propositions Rationale and Support

Propositions for a Conceptual Framework for Successful HRD Project Management

Model Category


Antecedents P1: The greater a project manager's knowledge, abilities skills, proactivity, responsiveness, and experience, the more positive impact on HRD project outcomes.

Project manager characteristics

Project team characteristics

P2: The greater the project team members knowledge, abilities, skills, proactivity, responsiveness, and experience, the more positive impact on HRD project outcomes.

P1: Although there is limited research, and no HRD-related studies were identified, Wang, Chou, and Jiang (2005) found that project manager experiences positively impact project outcomes. In addition, project manager qualifications and attitudes likely influence project outcomes (Casey, 1978; Gullett, 1972; Kerzner, 2001). An important element needing further examination is the extent to which successful HRD implementation is actually a mixture of HRD practitioner's professional judgment and project management-related skills that extend HRD-sponsored programs/efforts to reality. It is likely that better project management makes for better HRD professionals, as project management and implementation are often closely related. P2: Given the scope and complexity of many HRDrelated projects, including large-scale HRD-related research, it is logical that team management is a central element for success. Although HRD-related studies associated with team HRD project management, Kendra and Taplin (2004) reported the experiences and knowledge of project team members positively impact project outcomes. There is much room for exploration regarding teams and HRD project success. (continued)


TABLE 2: Propositions Rationale and Support


330 P3a: The greater the organizational stake-holder readiness, buy-in, support, proactivity, responsiveness, and experience, the more positive impact on HRD project outcomes. P3b: The more aligned the organization structure and environment in support of the HRD project, the better the outcome. P3a: Although the HRD-related literature has suggested that readiness is essential to HRD interventions (Miller, Madsen, & John, 2006), most readiness-related commentary has been anecdotal, and readiness from the HRD project perspective has yet to be thoroughly considered. Although not directly associated with HRD projects, Pinto and Prescott (1990) and Jugdev and Mller (2005) reported that project success is based on stakeholder involvement including stakeholder support, stakeholder consultation, and stakeholder acceptance demonstrated through readiness, proactivity, and responsiveness. P3b: According to Semler (1997), organizational alignment is a key element for HRD success. Although the alignment perspective may often be used to describe conceptual buy-in, it is also important for shared participation in complex projects involving multiple stakeholders. Available research suggests that alignment of structure and environment, including authority, leadership, and responsibility, yields better project outcomes (Baker et al., 1983; Butler, 1973; Gullett, 1972; Hodgetts, 1968). There is a need to examine alignment with HRD project contexts. (continued)

Model Category


Organization stakeholder characteristics

TABLE 2: Propositions Rationale and Support


Model Category


Process P4: Utilization of structured project management approaches or practice models and early determination of critical success factors (CSFs) will positively influence HRD project outcomes.

Project management approach and/or Practice models utilized

Project management tools

P5: Utilization of relevant project management tools will positively influence HRD project success.

Leadership and project team dynamics


P6: Proactivity and low avoidance behaviors among team leadership and members will positively influence HRD project outcomes.

P4: Although numerous models have been used to explicate key HRD concepts and practices (McLean, 2006; Swanson & Holton, 2001) understanding the utilization of specific models toward effective HRD implementation has been understudied. Utilization of project management approaches, including processes used to plan, control, and execute contracts, positively influence project outcomes (Jiang, Klein, & Means, 2000; Kendra & Taplin, 2004) and have led to initial understanding regarding appropriate approaches to general project management. Comparing and contrasting current HRD practice models and the project management components associated with them, or development and testing of integrated HRD project management models, will clearly benefit the field. P5: According to Kendra and Taplin (2004) tools, including performance measurement systems, positively influence project success. The extent to which project management tools outlined in the review of literature assist in the maximization of HRD project performance and HRD implementation have yet to be systematically explored. P6: Although there is some evidence that leadership behavior and project team behaviors positively influence project outcomes (Jiang et al., 2000; Zimmer & Yasin, 1998), there is little beyond anecdotal and prescriptive support in terms of the role of leadership for HRD and HRD-related projects. (continued)

TABLE 2: Propositions Rationale and Support


Model Category


332 P7: Available project management literature suggests project techniques and tools appropriately applied to project activities reinforce ongoing environmental scanning and adaptation to project environments to ensure project success (Kendra & Taplin, 2004; PMI Global Standard, 2004). P7: Ongoing use of environmental scanning and adaptation to changes in the project environment, including stakeholder expectations and of critical success factors, will positively influence HRD project outcomes. P8: On-time execution and/or appropriate time adjustments for project execution will positively influence HRD project outcomes. P9: Alignment between HRD intervention objectives and project management execution overall will influence perceptions of HRD project success. P8: There have been few researchers or practitioners who have systematically explored the role of timeliness and on-time delivery for HRD projects. In related project management literature, Kendra and Taplin (2004) suggested that positive project outcomes are predicated on on-time execution of initiatives; however, no identified studies examined the elements/barriers contributing to HRD project timeliness and the specific impact such timeliness or lack of timeliness may have on HRD success. P9: Pinto (1998) and PMI Global Standard (2004) maintained the importance of alignment between project and project management execution techniques to influence project outcomes. Because of the absence of exploration regarding HRD and project management intersections, there is currently little to inform HRD professionals regarding these important practice intersections. (continued)

Project team responsiveness to environmental change

Proximal outcomes

Project timeliness

Project alignment with objectives

TABLE 2: Propositions Rationale and Support


Model Category


Quality of project execution

P10: Project management efforts that led to HRD intervention implementation will have a positive impact on proximal stakeholder perceptions and general intervention outcomes.

Project team learning

P11: Project team learning throughout the HRD project will have a positive impact on perceived outcomes of the project and on future project team performance. P12: Objective and subjective HRD project success will have a positive impact on HRD intervention success.

Distal outcomes

Intervention success


P10: Well-executed HRD processes supported by appropriate project management logically create a better likelihood for project execution which stakeholders embrace. Christenson and Walker (2004) emphasized the importance of using project management techniques to positively influence stakeholder perceptions and intervention outcomes. The absence of systematic studies exploring the impact of project management implementation on intervention outcomes points to the need for further study of this phenomenon. P11: HRD literature has long emphasized team and organizational learning and the importance of these elements for organizational performance. Although not examined in the context of HRD, results reported by Thiry (2001) pointed to a relationship between learning and performance outcomes. Thiry introduced a model that integrated team learning with performance within the project management framework. More study is needed. P12: When an HRD project is perceived to be well executed in ways that lead to a focused HRD intervention, it is proposed that the intervention itself is likely to be viewed as successful. Kendra and Taplin (2004) emphasized that project success will have a positive influence on the organization and perceptions of organizational efforts. HRD-related examples have yet to be examined in the literature. (continued)

Propositions Rationale and Support



Model Category


Intervention-related learning

P13: A successful HRD intervention, aided by effective HRD project management, will positively impact organizational/group/ individual learning.

Intervention-related performance improvement

P14: A successful HRD intervention, aided by effective HRD project management, will positively impact organizational/group/individual performance. P15: Objective and subjective HRD intervention success will positively impact organizational success.

Resulting organizational success

P13: Schindler and Eppler (2003) researched the use of lessons learned sessions after project implementations to positively impact organization, team, and individual learning. Organizational practices embracing action-reflection learning cycles create opportunities for learning about HRD project implementation and have the potential to contribute to future HRD project implementation strategies and outcomes. P14: Kendra and Taplin (2004) and PMI Global Standard (2004) posited that project management can be used as a framework to impact interventions including team and organizational performance. Assuming the HRD approach aligns well with organizational needs, effective project management associated with the deployment of HRD efforts is likely to result positive performance outcomes. P15: Pinto (1998) suggested that future organizational success is predicated on the use of project management techniques to implement successful organizational interventions. Well-implemented HRD-related efforts with an emphasis on the key elements identified in Figure 2 above create a greater likelihood for related organizational success.



findings from the emerging nontraditional project management literature were reported as four key themes: models, tools, theories, and research. Project initiatives have become increasingly prevalent in organizations and are important considerations for organizational success. Projects are temporary initiatives and can be viewed structurally as a company within a company and project management is a methodology that provides a framework to successfully define and execute temporary initiatives including OD engagements. More specifically, project management helps to define CSFs in the early stages of projects and project management defines the infrastructure for supporting the CD and leadership styles of project mangers as well as project team members. Researchers suggest that project success is predicated on delivering quality products, adequate planning, alignment of resources and deliverables, adequate change management processes, and sufficient feedback processes (Cicmil, 2000). In addition, researchers suggest that project managers and project team members utilize tools and techniques along with people to ensure quality deliverables are on time, within scope, and efficiently managed in a broad area of industries, including banking, pharmaceutical, consulting, advertising, legal, health care, safety, and emerging manufacturing and industrial sectors (Kerzner, 2001). Thus, an understanding of project management within the context of HRD and the use of project management models, theories, tools, and research, ensures project-failure statistics are minimized by emphasizing the importance of resources and their use in supporting and implementing organizational strategies and goals. Finally, there is additional work that should be done to clarify the use of project management approaches in support of HRD professionals and the use of project management by HRD as a business practice in multiple industries and contexts. The additional work includes the use of resources to implement organizational strategies. There is also a need to explore the converse including the use of HRD to develop project managers. There are many opportunities to examine HRDproject management connections, and we hope that this examination of literature and key concepts is beneficial for future research, practice applications, and theory building.

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Lila Lenoria Carden is assistant professor and director of MS-HRM at Houston Baptist University. She conducts research in human resource development, project management, and leadership. Prior to becoming a university faculty member, Carden was a program/project manager for software development programs. Toby Marshall Egan is assistant professor and managing director of international HRD programs at Texas A&M University. He is currently vice president of research for the Academy of Human Resource Development. Prior to becoming a university faculty member, Egan managed large-scale HRD projects as vice president of a U.S.-based consulting firm.