Decoupling and standardization in the projectification of a company
Journal article, 2013
– The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse the change trajectory in a large, global, project‐oriented company, with focus on standardization of project work, and on how the company's structure, processes and employment‐base changed in line with the company's increasing volume of projects.
– The stance taken is to define firm‐based projects as temporary organisations embedded in, and coupled to their parent company. Narratives of employees' working history were combined with historical company data. The outcome is a trajectory of the company's history from four different perspectives, shown in parallel with the development of the company's project operations.
– The projectification history was found to be connected with two parallel movements: a push towards project decoupling countered by a pull towards standardization of project management practices to tighten the coupling. The direction of the movements was influenced from current project management trends.
– The model of a projectified company as a loosely‐coupled system provides a novel way of analysing an organisation and its interfaces to its projects. Even though the work focuses on a unique company's projectification history, the intention is to provide a means to better understand the forces impacting the transformation of organisations increasingly using projects as a work‐form.
– Adding the notion of coupling gives a new dimension to the transformation of project‐oriented companies. The model for analysing projects by means of their patterns of loose and tight coupling provides arguments for the shift in focus from the individual project to the interplay between structure, people and processes in the project‐oriented company.