Exploring the Personal Dynamics of Project Initiation Decisions

  • Mark Mullaly

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The focus of this study is on the role of individuals in making project initiation decisions. The decision to proceed with a project is critical, and the up-front process of initiation has been identified as having a dominant influence in determining the success or failure of individual project efforts. The process of project initiation lives at the intersection between organizational strategy and project management, and fromdifferent perspectives often appears to be part of one or the other, at times can be argued to belong to both, and occasionally seems to belong to neither. This study seeks to explore how individual actors engage in and support the process of making effective project initiation decisions.The study employed grounded theory methodology to develop a substantive theory of how agency and rule emphasis influence the effectiveness of project initiation decisions. Data collection involved interviews with 28 participants who were each involved in the initiation of projects in their organizations, who discussed the process within their organizations of deciding to initiate projects, and described their role within that process. The results show that decision effectiveness is a result of the effectiveness of process and rule systems within an organization, and the agency of individual actors supporting the initiation process. Agency represents the intention, ability and capacity to act – and the corresponding level of awareness – within the rule environment of the organization. Agency reflects the willingness of actors to work within, around or despite the dominant rule system. Agency can work to support the influences of process effectiveness or rule effectiveness, and agency can also override and compensate for organizational inadequacies. Agency can supplement rule effectiveness where required to support effective decisions in implicitly-focussed environments, and can also be constrained in explicitly-focused environments that have a strong process capability in place.
Date of Award12 Oct 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLynn Crawford (Supervisor)

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