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This book offers an essential manual for project managers, project management offices (PMO’s), trainers and consultants, addressing the psychological side of project management. Written by leading scholars in organizational psychology and by top experts in project management, it covers all major psychological topics that are key to project success. The book features dedicated chapters on leadership and teamwork, including virtual and intercultural cooperation, commitment and motivation of project teams. It adds a psychological perspective to personnel management, decision-making, information and knowledge management and communication in project work. Power, influencing tactics and other aspects of stakeholder management are covered, as well as project coaching, innovation and creativity, self-management and the management of conflicts, risks and crises.



1. Introduction

The course and the success of projects depend essentially on the people who design project processes or pass judgment on their results. Conversely, the requirements and parameters of projects also influence the experience and behavior of the project’s participants. Project work and project management are thus a form of applied psychology. This chapter provides an overview of this book’s contents, explains the purpose of applied and organizational psychology and the significance of project management in modern organizations, and explores the role applied psychology plays in project management.
Lutz von Rosenstiel, Monika Wastian, Isabell Braumandl, Michael A. West

Managing Processes


2. Project Lifecycles: Challenges in and Approaches to Process Design from a Psychological Perspective

The purpose of this chapter is to explore useful psychological approaches for process design within the various phases of a project’s lifecycle. The pitfalls encountered during projects will be examined in order to illustrate how project leaders can develop appropriate strategies which they can, in turn, use to make their projects more successful.
Michael Schneider, Monika Wastian, Marilyn Kronenberg

3. Effective Decision Making and Problem Solving in Projects

Processing information and forming opinions pose special challenges when attempting to effectively manage the new or complex tasks that typically arise in projects. Based on research in organizational and social psychology, we introduce mechanisms and strategies for collective information processing which are important for forming opinions and handling information in projects.
Felix C. Brodbeck, Yves R. F. Guillaume

4. Communication in Projects

This chapter explores the challenges and pitfalls encountered in communication during projects and considers possible ways to improve it by applying a systemic perspective. It does so by discussing the place of project communication in business operations and uncovering the links between the factors for successful project management and the impact of appropriate communication with a view to the right structures, processes, and practices. Concrete, practical footholds for effective and efficient communication in projects are showcased in examples drawn from real-life practice, with a particular emphasis on the right behaviors and practices of the people involved in and affected by such communication.
Richard Streich, Jens Brennholt

5. Knowledge Management for Projects

Current discourse about knowledge management in companies often suffers from doubts about the actual benefits of the concept when applied in practice. Malik further highlights this trend in his statement “Knowledge Management – even this King is naked” (Malik (2001) Wissensmanagement – auch dieser Kaiser ist nackt. Manager-magazin http://​www.​manager-magazin.​de/​koepfe/​mzsg/​0,2828,169723,00.​html. 23 Nov 2014).
In the context of this article, we will not only present concrete knowledge management instruments and examples, but also describe the degree to which knowledge management is merely viewed as an end in itself or believed to truly provide added value in the context of project management activities.
Katrin Winkler, Heinz Mandl

6. Project Coaching: An Effective Means for Successful Projects

Over the past years, the challenges faced by the individual participants in projects have not only increased considerably in number, but also become more complex in their essence. Project coaching offers both project initiators and participants various means to meet those challenges and optimize project processes. This chapter describes what project coaching is, how it works, and how it contributes to the success of projects.
Monika Wastian, Brigitte Dost-Tauschl, Isabell Braumandl

Managing the Project Environment


7. Personnel Psychology in Project Management

“Are you in or out?” This is what Danny Ocean asks his 11 “experts” in the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven to motivate them to participate in his project; a planned coup to steal 150 million dollars from three Las Vegas casinos. His handpicked team consists of the best experts in their respective fields, including a munitions expert, a pickpocket, and an acrobat. Each expert is highly committed to the success of the project. They work hand in hand in a well-defined team, giving their best in an attempt to get the job done.
This fictitious situation represents the ideal situation for every real-life project manager. Although most projects involve less than 150 million dollars, the recruitment and collaboration of the team members as well as the final success of the project can be a similarly thrilling experience. In an organizational context, a project team may, for instance, be built in order to develop an e-learning system that allows the external workers of a staffing agency to participate in distributed learning. Here, too, various experts are involved in the project: The team may include human resource managers, designers, and IT specialists. However, in contrast to Hollywood’s fiction, the recruiting process will not be driven by the “Are you in or out?” principle, and the expected “happy ending” will not be guaranteed as well.
Klaus Moser, Nathalie Galais, Anastasia Byler

8. Power and Interpersonal Influence in Successful Project Management

Political behavior is an integral part of the everyday routine of any project. There are three main reasons for politicking in this context: (1) Ambiguity in respect to actions, planning, and decisions; (2) the frequently insufficient allocation of vital resources; (3) dependence on different groups of stakeholders with inconsistent interests and objectives. The nature of project work thus requires a high degree of political skill on the part of the project leader. All project managers can learn to behave skillfully, competently, and with a focus on their goals in the project network by improving their political skill, expanding their power base, and carefully analyzing the needs of participating groups.
Jutta Solga, Alexander Witzki, Gerhard Blickle

Managing People


9. Positive Project Management Teams

Teams are fast becoming the normal organizing principle across the world. A project team is a particular type of work group that is typically short-lived, assigned a specific task which tends to be ill-defined and non-routine, and comprised of team members with a diverse array of skills, expertise, and experience. Although researchers have developed numerous concepts for developing effective teamwork, project teams require special attention in response to these unique characteristics. So how can organizations enable the effectiveness of their project management teams? In this chapter, we approach this problem by drawing upon principles of positive psychology to understand how to best develop and facilitate effective project management teams, based on eight key team processes.
Joanne Lyubovnikova, Michael A. West

10. Dreamteam or Nightmare? Collaboration in Project Teams

Contemporary organizations increasingly implement project teams. Often interdisciplinary by nature, project teams unite team members from different departments or areas of expertise within an organization who typically work on non-routine tasks. As such, project teams face a number of inherent challenges. In particular, collaborative task accomplishment is often subject to interpersonal conflict. This chapter highlights the specific challenges faced by project teams and showcases different approaches for conflict management and team development in project teams.
Simone Kauffeld, Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, Sven Grote

11. Commitment and Identification with Projects

Much contemporary research involving commitment and identification has focused on the organization as a whole. Since organizations change very quickly, the focus shifts more and more to the level of teams and projects. Commitment and identification also describe how tightly employees are linked to a project. While commitment primarily describes affective aspects, identification means treating team membership as a personal attribute. For working in projects, which is characterized by unique, complex tasks and unknown solutions, a highly committed team that identifies strongly with the project is a major factor for success.
Rafaela Kraus, Ralph Woschée

12. The Project Leader as Executive

In their work, project leaders need to take into account several distinctive features that are typical for project work. This chapter considers three specific problem areas in particular by taking a look at the following questions:
  • How do I agree upon effective performance goals for all project members?
  • How can I manage complex project tasks even under severe time pressure?
  • How can I increase the goal commitment of people whose individual skills and weaknesses I barely know?
The recommendations given in this context are based on practical experience as well as scientific insights, gained in more recent research on how goals are set when leading employees.
Jürgen Wegge, Klaus-Helmut Schmidt

13. Self-Management for Project Managers

For many people, the opportunity to be project managers is an incentive that offers exceptional career development prospects. Going hand in hand with these new opportunities, project managers face new and very complex areas of tension and challenges that they need to master. Holistic self-management is therefore just as important for the success of a project as managing the content and technical side.
Silke Weisweiler, Jürgen Kuhrts, Isabell Braumandl, Ellen Schmid

Managing Innovation and Creativity


14. Innovation and Creativity in Project Teams

In present-day organizations, new products and services are almost invariably not invented or developed by one individual, but by project teams. Research into innovation in project team has flourished, and we now know a lot about which factors affect innovative behavior, innovative processes, and innovative outcomes in project teams.
Günter W. Maier, Ute R. Hülsheger, Neil Anderson

15. Creative Thinking

Efficiency in production and optimized processes are no longer sufficient to guarantee success. Keeping up with global corporate developments requires a continuous effort to come up with original products, extraordinary solutions, and new types of marketing. More than ever, before companies are in need of capable employees who are able to explore new solutions to the problems they are facing and collaborate to open up overlooked opportunities and new markets. Creative thinking skills and techniques help individuals as well as project teams to think differently, overcome cognitive blockades, leave existing paths and come up with new and original ideas that add real value.
Eva Traut-Mattausch, Rudolf Kerschreiter, Christoph Burkhardt

Managing Special Challenges: Risks and Crises, Diversity and Distance


16. The Management of Risk and Crises in Projects

Managing risks and crises in projects is about dealing with situations or incidents that might detract from or even call into doubt the project’s success. An appropriate response focuses to a large extent on the established principles of successful management for dealing with the issues at hand and their specific, individual factors. Modified accordingly, such appropriate responses used in everyday situations also prove advantageous when faced with unusual situations.
Wolfgang Salewski, Lutz von Rosenstiel, Rod Zook

17. Project Management in International Teams

The role of international teams in the workplace continues to increase as they assume a more central and standard role in developing, producing, and distributing products and services of all kinds. International cooperation necessitates intercultural cooperation. We highlight this first by describing a case study that exhibits typical challenges and processes in intercultural cooperation. The chapter then turns to investigate how culturally-determined problems that arise from the case can be interpreted from a psychological point of view. Finally, we offer ways of optimizing intercultural cooperation in international teams.
Ulrich Hoessler, Walter Sponfeldner, Douglas L. Morse

18. Project Management in Distributed Virtual Teams

Virtual project teams can bring together the best available experts for a task, irrespective of regional or temporal boundaries. At the same time, the management of virtual project teams poses unique challenges due to restricted opportunities for communication and limited direct face-to-face contact. Using research from work and organizational psychology, this chapter explains the typical problems of virtual project teams and explores concrete strategies for mastering these challenges.
Guido Hertel, Borris Orlikowski


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