Our (rhetorical) question in a speech to the Swedish Project Academy yesterday. Project-based sectors and industries are heavily represented among the recent outcries from women who have been harassed and assaulted in their workplaces by men, who have had their careers and well-being disrupted due to abuse of power. In the wake, we see talent being scared away and dysfunctional organizational cultures sustained. Projects can be marvelous opportunities to break away from the past and create new and better things, but they may as well become arenas for even more intense reaffirmation of existing power structures and practices. Depressing and sad insights. But the good thing is that we know from years of research what to do about it.
At the annual conference in the national research program Long-term Provision of Knowledge, held in Saltsjöbaden 15-16 November, preliminary results from our on-going empirical studies in Swedish business schools were presented. Johann Packendorff, Marianne Ekman Rising and Monica Lindgren are in-depth-interviewing lecturers on initiatives aimed at increasing performance and productivity by connecting funding allocation directly to measures on the individual or institutional level, and are specifically interested in (1) how such initiatives are understood and received by academic professionals in their daily work, and (2) in what ways these initiatives affect work practices and academics’ self-understanding.
In our presentation, we centered around empirical themes rather than theoretical developments. Where the practicing of performance-based systems (PBS) is concerned, we reflected on the following themes:
•Hour counting practices – i.e. that teaching time is broken down in detail to hours to be ”produced” by lecturers.
•Research time distribution – i.e. how internal research funding are allocated across faculty and the consequences of the process as such and the allocation criteria
•Accreditation as a self-inflicted additional system: Importing US criteria and organizational models
•Publishing/bibliometrics: Awareness ,strategic behaviour but not embraced
•Salaries as hygiene factor, not seen as reward or incentive, even negative when seen as unfair
•Standardisation important despite variety of work contents and work organisation
•Outcome-based systems rather than process-based systems
•Individualised systems – individuals are responsibilised, measured and evaluated, less so the organisation
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Damian Hodgson and Svetlana Cicmil receiving the award on behalf of the MPC team with Johann Packendorff and Monica Lindgren in the background. Photo: Project Management Institute
Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff are the 2017 winners of the PMI Research Achievement Award. They are given the award for founding the Making Projects Critical (MPC) network and workshops, as well as for the ongoing research that opens up project management and project-based organisations to critical examination. The award is shared with their MPC collaborators; Director Svetlana Cicmil at Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, and Professor Damian Hodgson at Alliance Manchester Business School, Manchester University.
PMI (Project Management Institute) is the leading international association for project managers, with operations in over 80 countries. The PMI Research Achievement Award is one of the premier research awards in the field, and has been awarded since 2003 to ”recognize and honor an individual or group of individuals whose work has significantly advanced the concepts, knowledge, and practices of project management through a published body of academic research”. It is the second time the award has gone to Swedish scholars. Read the list of past winners!.
The editor-in-chief of Project Management Journal writes about us in this editorial!
The award was handed over at a ceremony in Boston, 14th June 2017. MJ
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In this new article in Higher Education, Marianne Ekman, Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff discuss how ‘managerialist’ and ‘leaderist’ discourses are drawn upon in the context of the deregulation of Swedish higher education. As of 2011, there has been new legislation that frames Swedish universities as ‘autonomous’ and transfers most of the regulative responsibilities from the government level to university vice-chancellors. The aim of this article is to inquire into how tensions within and between managerialist and leaderist discourse are handled in the promotion of New Public Management reforms and the conse- quences thereof in terms of how leadership in the higher education sector is constructed. We analyse how these discourses are employed in the core documents leading up to the 2010 Riksdag decision to enact most of the proposed deregulations, and the subsequent evaluation undertaken by the social democratic government that took over in 2014. Based in this analysis, we suggest that the texts indeed draw upon notions of leadership and leaders as necessary for Swedish universities to survive and thrive in the future, but that the envisaged practise of this ‘strong leadership’ can either be characterised as a discursive void or described in terms of de- personalised, instrumental managerial surveillance and control. Read the article open access at the journal homepage!
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What does the promotion of ’entrepreneurship’ do to us? In a new article in acclaimed journal Organization, Karin Berglund, Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff take an interest in what subjectivities are fostered among schoolchildren through the recent introduction of entrepreneurship initiatives in primary and secondary school. The educational terrain is but one example where entrepreneurship has been discursively transformed during recent decades from the notion of starting businesses into a general approach to life itself in the advancement of neoliberal societies. Entrepreneurship is presented as being equally available for all and something everyone should aspire to, yet the initiatives still sustain the suppression and marginalisation of women and femininities. The initiatives specifically promote a responsible and adaptive masculine subject position while notions of rebellious entrepreneurship and non-entrepreneurial domestic positions are mobilised out of the picture. Read more at the article home page
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Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff participated in the 2016 AoM meeting, held in Anaheim, California, 4-9 August. They presented the paper ”Fragmented meritocratisation: On mobilisation and demobilisation of gender in higher education”, co-authored with Marianne Ekman Rising, in the Critical Management Studies stream.
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In 13-14 April 2016, the first ever international Symposium on Projectification of the Public Sector were held at Malmö University, organized by Mats Fred and Dalia Mukhtar-Landgren. Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff were invited, and contributed with the presentation ”Projects as a mode of justification: On the discursive fabric of projectification”. Read more (in Swedish)
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The evil cycle of projectification from the perspective of project workers. Source: Cicmil, S., Lindgren, M. & Packendorff, J. (2016) ”The project (management) discourse and its consequences: On vulnerability and un-sustainability in project-based work”. New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol 31, No 1: pp. 58-76.
In an article in the special issue on the politics of projects in technology-intensive work in New Technology, Work and Employment, Svetlana Cicmil, Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff examine how the discourses related to project-based work and management are drawn upon in the organising of contemporary work, and the implications they have for project workers. We are interested in how project workers and projectified organisations become vulnerable to decline, decay and exhaustion and why they continue to participate in, and so sustain, projectification processes. The critical perspective taken here, in combination with our empirical material from the ICT sector, surfaces an irreversible decline of the coping capacity of project workers and draws attention to the addictive perception of resilience imposed on and internalised by them as a condition of success and longevity. Under those circumstances, resilience is made sense of and internalised as coping with vulnerability by letting some elements of life being destroyed; thus re-emerging as existentially vulnerable rather than avoiding or resisting the structures and processes that perpetuate vulnerability. Read more on the journal homepage!
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Damian Hodgson, Monica Lindgren, Johann Packendorff and Svetlana Cicmil has co-edited a a new special issue on ”The politics of projects in technology-intensive work”. Published in well-ranked New Technology, Work and Employment journal, the special issue contains four original articles on various aspects of project work. Read more in the editors’ introduction and in the journal table of contents!
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We are both professors of Industrial Economics and Management at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Aside from living together, we also run several joint professional projects within research, teaching, public speaking and consulting. We are interested in organization and management in a wide sense, but focused on project management, entrepreneurship, gender studies and leadership.
Monica Lindgren (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Johann Packendorff (email@example.com)