This research, as part of a broader initiative within the UK Cabinet Office known as Project X, aims to provide in-depth understandings of project leadership. Leadership has traditionally received relatively little attention within the project management literature. This comparative lack of research into project leadership is important. For many organisations and industries projects have become an important vehicle for accomplishing organisational change. Yet, both the theory and practice of projects commonly acknowledge that many issues tend to emerge in approaching change as projects. Previous research and reports link some of these key issues to leadership. Emerging debates in the field of project management also call for broadening current understandings of project leadership. This study, intends to respond to these calls and issues by examining the everyday practice of leadership in the context of organisational change projects.
Recognising that the meaning of leadership can be fragmented, ambiguous and transient in contexts of change and transformation, this study focuses on the research question: What does leadership mean in the context of organisational change projects? In attempting to answer this question, this qualitative research takes an ethnographic orientation and draws upon practice approach and sensemaking perspectives to conduct case studies in the UK public sector and private sector (financial services industry). These longitudinal case studies examine leadership as a plural, relational, dynamic and contextually situated phenomenon. Acknowledging that projects tend to be different, the aim is to contribute analytical generalisations that can be used for enriching the theory and practice of project leadership.
Funder: This work is supported by the Association for Project Management (APM) Research Fund