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Managing project portfolios: balancing flexibility and structure by improvising
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Industrial Economics and Management (Div.) (closed (20130101).
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Real Estate and Construction Management.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5744-9445
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 6, no 1, 152-172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to situate project portfolio management practice and explore its improvisational nature. The overall aim is to deepen the knowledge of what project portfolio managers do when they manage portfolios based on an organizational theory perspective.Design/methodology/approach – This research explores the situated actions of project portfolio managers managing project portfolios and is based on two different case studies. The approach is qualitative and interpretative, with the aim of gradually developing an understanding.Findings – The primary contributions in this paper are insights that enhance the understanding of project portfolio management practice, and the differences in practice between portfolio managers and project managers when creating “action space” and improvising. This knowledge is important for both project theory and project practice, for example when developing managerial competences and sense making structures as well as organizational design in order to increase competitiveness. The findings also contribute to project theory in relation to research on the “Practice Turn” and the literature on re‐situating projects.Research limitations/implications – The research implications emphasize the need for a better understanding of project portfolio management in practice, and an awareness of the need of uncertainty management executed by the portfolio managers situated actions (i.e. fulfilled by walk‐tour and circle communication).Practical implications – The practical implications are an awareness of the fact that project‐based organizational settings have to emphasize a holistic approach and acknowledge the need for situated leadership (in particular for their project portfolio managers).Originality/value – This paper fulfills an identified need to study situated project portfolio management practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 6, no 1, 152-172 p.
Keyword [en]
Improvising, IMulti-project settings, Organizational theory, Project management, Project portfolio management, Project-based organizations, Uncertainty management
National Category
Other Civil Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-104553DOI: 10.1108/17538371311291071OAI: diva2:565031

QC 20150625

Available from: 2012-11-05 Created: 2012-11-05 Last updated: 2015-06-25Bibliographically approved

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Jerbrant, AnnaKarrbom Gustavsson, Tina
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