Is project management a profession? If yes, where does it fit in and if not, what is it?
The research described in this thesis has been a journey of exploration and discovery. Using a combination of positivist and post positivist approaches, both traditional and non-traditional definitions of a profession and professional have been identified; various hypotheses related to these definitions have been tested using a survey instrument; data collected from over 400 respondents has been analysed in order to understand the nature of the practice of construction management, which has failed to professionalize itself after almost 50 years of formalized practice.
In conducting the research on what it means to be a ‘professional’, commercial aircraft piloting, which has in less than 100 years been accepted as a profession, was closely examined to determine what set it apart from project management. From this and other disparate explorations, the research has identified the areas of agreement, the areas of divergence, and the areas still in question regarding the past and future of project management, and from this examination distilled answers or recommendations and provided a glimpse into the future of project management.
Amongst the highlights of the findings is that project management is not, by and large, regarded to be a profession. It is considered by the majority of its practitioners to be a process, methodology or system. The key attributes required to professionalize project management are not licensing, but creating a methodology, system or process which, done correctly and appropriately, can consistently deliver ‘successful’ projects and build trust in the consuming public in the competencies of the practitioners to apply these methodologies, systems or processes to deliver projects on time, within budget while substantially meeting the needs, wants an expectations of the stakeholders.
From the research, a Professionalization Index has been developed that can provide a snapshot of where project management, as perceived by the practitioners, lies on the path to professionalization, when compared against other occupations.
Key words: profession, professional, project, management
2200: Managerial skills
8370: Construction & engineering industry
2600: Management science/operations research
0543: Civil engineering
0546: Industrial engineering
0796: Operations research