The question of organizing innovative projects has a long tradition. Shenhar made a plea for a contingency approach, i.e. highly innovative projects should be organized in a different way. Cooper emphasized the importance of the early stages of a project and early integration of customer and market requirements. The ideation literature stressed creativity and an innovation-supporting culture. All this ideas for managing single projects are evidence-based and used. They are necessary – but not sufficient.
The development of program management and project portfolio management has added the view, that firms do not only manage single projects, but also a concurrent set of projects, that are included in a portfolio or program management. This created a stronger link to corporate strategy. Objectives of project portfolio management are maximization of portfolio value, strategic fit of the project, and balancing the projects in consideration of capacities, overall portfolio risk, and synergies between projects. In our empirical research done at TU Berlin and continued at TU Darmstadt, we found a lot of success factors, that matter for all kinds of investigated project e.g. portfolios formalization, strategic clarity, stakeholder orientation, business case monitoring, ideation and agility. However, firms with a high entrepreneurial orientation, which includes future orientation, striving for innovation, and the willingness to take risks, given adequate opportunities, show much higher impacts of such factors, because entrepreneurial orientation positively moderates the influences. Interestingly, the successful innovators did not give a higher dose of strategic clarity, stakeholder orientation, or business case monitoring – they invested only an average amount. But, they created a different context, i.e. they motivated and supported people more in the ideation stage, created career systems to give them a perspective and harvested a higher competence retention and more committed employees. They also showed a higher agility, which means in this context that they decided quicker when they had sufficient transparency and that they implemented their decisions in much more comprehensive way. However, even these and other factors are only necessary, but still not sufficient.
We are convinced that a new generation of project management should consider the fact that projects are embedded in a historical path of projects. This will make project management more attractive for strategic management and for innovation management, and may also be used to discuss e.g. the relationship between projects that create an infrastructure and others that use or re-use it.
Dr. rer. oec. habil., Dr. h.c. rer. oec. et soc. Hans Georg Gemünden is a Professor of Project Management at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo since October 1 st
of 2015. He was Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at TU Berlin from 2000 to 2015, and Professor of Corporate Strategy at KIT from 1988-
He was founder and Chairman of the TIE Division of the Association of University Professors of Management from 2000-2002. He was a member of the supervisory
board (Aufsichtsrat) of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG (ca. 50,000 employees), from 2006-2011. From 2008 until 2012 he was one of the four principal investigators for Business Administration at Germany’s national science foundation DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).
He has authored over 150 articles, over 180 conference proceedings, over 130 invited chapters, and 4 books in the fields of innovation management, entrepreneurship, project management, organization, marketing, decision making, and accounting. Professor Gemünden has supervised 90 doctoral students as second supervisor (“opponent role”) and 71 as first supervisor (“promoter role”). Seventeen of the first supervised candidates became full tenured University Professors.