Sub-theme 21: Space and Time in Projects and Project Organizations


Professor Shankar Sankaran, University of Sydney Technology, Australia
Dr Julien Pollack, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Professor Nathalie Drouin, University of Sydney Technology, Australia
Professor Ralf Müller, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

The theme of APROS/EGOS 2015 resonates well with the call for ‘Rethinking Project Management’ (Winter, Smith, Morris & Cicimil 2006) and the literature on “Temporary Organizations” (Turner and Müller 2003, Lundin & Steinthórsson 2003) that relates to project organizations. Hence this proposal to respond to the theme for the proposed conference as power and politics is an under-researched area in project management (Clegg and Kreiner 2013).

In addition, there is a dearth of research in the temporal and spatial aspects of projects whereas the organisational studies literature is much advanced in these areas. Research on temporality is growing in project management literature whereas research regarding spatial issues – except for some discussion on differences between co-located and virtual teams separated by geographical space in projects- is practically non-existent. With the emergence of ‘Organizational Project Management’ as a field in its own right (Drouin, Muller & Sankaran 2013) it is important to provide the space to discuss temporality and spatial dimensions of projects and project organizations.

The literature in organizational studies has begun to pay importance to the use of temporal skills to deal with uncertainty and complexity in permanent organizations. However it is surprising project management literature has not placed sufficient importance to discuss the use of temporal skills for project managers to deal with uncertainty and complexity which are becoming an area of increased concern in project management research. (Biesenthal, Sankaran, Pitsis & Clegg 2014) When project teams work around the clock using people located across the world even the conventional notion of work week and time used for project scheduling takes is challenged.

With regard to space we see opportunities to explore power relations between the various stakeholders in projects due to the socio-spatial distance, the way spaces created for project teams can allow or inhibit creativity and innovation and knowledge transfer, spaces in project networks that can cut across nations and cultures besides and spaces in which project teams work together and communicate using a variety of communication media. We also invite papers that look at spatiality and temporality in Kantian terms (Whitty 2013) For Kant, space and time form the pure categories of understanding which are fundamental to our conceptualisation of everything. Project managers conceive projects in various spatial terms, for example; methodology space (where they conceptualise (aka can only see) their projects in terms of methodological approaches, say agile, lean, incremental, and phased) They also conceive projects temporally in terms of the intrinsic state of the project (it’s essence) and how it changes in some dynamic (certainly not linear) way.

Some questions that might help inform potential contributions include, but are not limited to:

  • How is space important in the institutionalization of strategy, values, learning, independent thinking and ideas?
  • How does ‘space as distance’ support our understanding of ‘the other’, say for example in regards to project networks spanning geographical distances   global logistics?
  • What makes an organizational space a creative space? How do we build, develop, and maintain organizationally creative ‘spaces’?
  • The impact of spaces created by social media on projects and the way project teams work?
  • What are the consequences of working and relating, organizationally, in virtual space that has real and immediate impact?
  • What spatial separation now exists between work and personal lives when the Weberian distinction between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ spheres no longer holds in a world of virtual devices?
  • How can space be created to experience ‘ba’ that space for ‘knowledge creation’ proposed by Nonaka and Konno which is more than physical space?
  • How can we create a space that promotes organizational learning while discouraging defensive routines?
  • What is the connection between temporal and spatial contexts and their relationship to power practices?
  • What is the impact of viewing projects from a Kantian perspective of temporality and spatiality?


Biesenthal, C., Sankaran, S. Pitsis, T. & Clegg, S. (2014). Temporal riffs in organization studies: Implications for strategic project management, in Bloomquist, T., Haniff, A.P. & Calberese, A. Strategic Project Management: An International Perspective., Publisher Unknown at this stage.

Clegg, S. R. and K. Kreiner. 2013. Power and Politics in Construction Projects. In: N. Drouin, R. Muller and S. Sankaran (eds.), Novel approaches to organizational project management research. Translational and transformational. pp. 268-293. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Drouin, N., Muller, R. & Sankaran .S. (eds.) (2013) Novel Approaches to Organizational Project Management Research: Translational and Transformational, CBS Press, Copenhagen.

Lundin, R.A. & Steinthórsson, R.S. 2003, Studying organizations as temporary

Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol 19, no.2, pp 233–250

Turner, J. R. & Müller, R. 2003, On the Nature of the Project as a Temporary Organization, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 21, no.1, pp. 1-7.

Whitty, J. 2013. Thinking in slow motion abiout project management. In: N. Drouin, R. Muller and S. Sankaran (eds.), Novel approaches to organizational project management research. Translational and transformational. pp. 95-116. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Winter, M., Smith, C., Morris, P., & Cicmil, S. 2006. Directions for future research in project management: The main findings of a UK government-funded research network

International Journal of Project Management, vol. 24, no. 8, pp 638–649

Professor Shankar Sankaran is the Professor of Organisational Project Management at the School of the Built Environment at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He is a cluster leader of Strategy and Practices at the Centre for Management and Organisation Studies at UTS. He teaches in the Master of Project Management Program at UTS and supervises doctoral students. His research interests are in project governance and leadership, systems thinking and action research.

Dr Julien Pollack is the Course Director of the UTS Master of Project Management program. His teaching focuses on developing students’ communication and critical thinking skills. Julien’s interest in theory is tempered by an understanding of the practical needs of industry. He is an experienced project manager, having worked in the engineering, telecommunications and health industries, implementing projects from organisational change and information systems development, to rolling stock manufacturing.

Professor Nathalie Drouin is member Associate Dean of Research, at Université du Québec à Montréal (ESG UQAM), Canada and a member of the Board and Scientific Committee of the Project Management Research. (http:/ Her passion is to increase the use of transformational and translational research methods in doctoral and organizational research.  Her research interests are in project management, collaboration and innovation, organizational capabilities and virtual project teams.

Professor Ralf Müller is a Professor of Project Management and an Associate Dean at the BI Norwegian Business School in Norway. His principal research interests are in project leadership, governance, PMOs and research methods. He is a departmental editor for the Project Management Journal. Before joining academia, he spent 30 years in the industry consulting with large enterprises and governments in 47 different countries for their project management and governance.

Posted On: June 8, 2014
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