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“Toward a Typological Theory of Project Management” by Shenhar and Dvir Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 20th, 2022

Today, the deployment of projects has outpaced the development of a typological theory of project management. The mainstream approach that doesn’t differentiate between radical and incremental innovations leads to the assumption that all projects are similar. Thus, there’s a need for a comprehensive two-dimensional typology of projects and management styles. In their research, Shenhar and Dvir seek to meet the said need by elaborating a framework that may also be of practical use.

The researchers elaborated a conceptual model with two dimensions, namely technological uncertainty and system scope. Technological uncertainty was described as an inability to foresee outcomes due to the discrepancy between the present and needed information; the scale levels varied from low to super-high. As for the system scope dimension, Shenhar and Dvir defined three clusters of project management styles, which constitute a hierarchy and are designated as assembly, system, and array. Further, Shenhar and David collected two sets of data, using qualitative and quantitative methods. At the first stage, Shenhar and Dvir studied project dynamics; the second stage entailed data collection from questionnaires and interviews with project managers. The investigation aimed at predicting the dependent variable – project success.

The results showed that technological uncertainty appeared to be the main factor affecting the projects’ characteristics, for each level correlated with distinct managing patterns. At that, the uncertainty dimension was primarily linked to the way technical problems were addressed as opposed to the system scope dimension that mainly dealt with administrative issues. The projects falling under the third system scope category required more meticulous planning and documentation. The authors concluded that the managing style compatibility with the technological uncertainty level contributes the most to a project’s outcome. As for the future of research, they do not reject the possibility that other frameworks might be developed.

Reference List

Shenhar, AJ & Dvir, D 1996, ‘Toward a typological theory of project management’, Research Policy, vol. 25, pp. 607-632.

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IvyPanda. ""Toward a Typological Theory of Project Management" by Shenhar and Dvir." January 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/toward-a-typological-theory-of-project-management-by-shenhar-and-dvir/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. ""Toward a Typological Theory of Project Management" by Shenhar and Dvir." January 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/toward-a-typological-theory-of-project-management-by-shenhar-and-dvir/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '"Toward a Typological Theory of Project Management" by Shenhar and Dvir'. 20 January.

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