How Positive Psychology can Support Sustainable Project Management

How Positive Psychology can Support Sustainable Project Management

Jasper C. van den Brink (HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4852-4.ch053
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In this chapter, the relationship between positive psychology and sustainable project management is discussed. A general description of the field of positive psychology is given. The relationship between positive psychology and the three P’s of sustainability (People, Planet, and Profit) is described. Specific attention is paid to hope and optimism as ways to intervene in project teams. Hope and optimism are central concepts in positive psychology. These concepts can help to improve the sustainability of project teams and to stimulate sustainable change.
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Projects, Positive Psychology And Positive Emotions


In the organizational theory many different definitions of projects are being used. In this chapter we use the widely used definition by Turner (1993): ‘Projects are an endeavor in which human, material and financial resources are organized in a novel way, to undertake a unique scope of work, of given specification, within constraints of cost and time, so as to achieve beneficial change defined by quantitative and qualitative objectives’.

Two things are important in this definition when it comes to the topic of this paper: first of all projects are endeavors in which human resources are being organized. And secondly, the purpose of projects is to achieve change. These are two components that will be addressed in this chapter.

Projects are endeavors in which human resources are being organized, this means that human behavior is an important component of projects. Paying attention to this part of project management is crucial for successful projects (El Saaba, 2001; Pant & Baroudi, 2008; Pasian, 2011; Suhonen & Paasivaara, 2011).

Realizing that projects are change instruments is important when it comes to sustainable organizations. At this moment sustainable organizations are not mainstream. Implementing sustainability into organizations urges for an explicit change perspective. Projects seem to be the perfect vehicle to drive this change, due to the explicit change perspective of project management.

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