Sustainable Project Management

Sustainable Project Management

Martin Albert (Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany) and Friedrich Mickel (Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7638-9.ch006
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Sustainability is a concept that has increased in popularity constantly over recent years. During this time, the discipline of project management begun to focus on sustainability, but literature shows that the topic of sustainable project management is still incipiently explored. Therefore, the goal of the chapter is to identify connections between sustainability and project management, which is achieved through the literary review of 46 different texts. These sources were analyzed using a bibliometric analysis and a qualitative content analysis. As deductive and inductive derived categories “definition project management,” “definition sustainability,” “definition sustainable project management,” “affected areas,” “principles of sustainable project management,” and “project manager” were defined. In order to develop the profession of sustainable project management, focusing upon the verification of theoretical findings with empirical research is suggested.
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Tom Taylor, the former chairperson of the Association for Project Management (APM), highlights that, “the planet earth is in a perilous position with a range of fundamental sustainability threats” and that, “Project and Programme Managers are significantly placed to make contributions to Sustainable Management practices” (APM, 2006, p. 1-7). Although the topic of sustainability is well known and much discussed, it is only recently related to the discipline of project management (Silvius & Schipper, 2014a, pp.41-43). This connection is an emerging, forward-looking area of research that continues gaining interest as it moves into the focus of both academics and practitioners (Silvius & Schipper, 2014a).

Otegi-Olaso et al. (2015) report over 560 publications (books, book chapters, journal articles, internet sites and conference papers) on this topic, of which almost 80% were published between 2004 and 2014, highlighting the many still open questions in terms of sustainability and project management (Marcelino-Sádaba, González-Jaen, & Pérez-Ezcurdia, 2015, p.14). Some authors conclude that the lack of integration between sustainability and project management is due to a present lack of research (Martens & Carvalho, 2015, p.30; Carvalho & Rabechini, 2017, p.1-2; Marcelino-Sádaba, González-Jaen, & Pérez-Ezcurdia, 2015, p.1). For example, Tufinio et al. (2013) point out a broad understanding of sustainability in literature and inside organisations, including the definition of the concept, standards and business practices. Marcelino-Sádaba et al. (2015) propose further research to identify effective and influentia project management areas for sustainable project management.

The purpose of this chapter is to investigate literature with a clear focus on publications, which discuss sustainability in the context of project management. The underlying research question for this work is:

  • What are connections between sustainability and project management?

Following sub-question are:

  • What are the definitions of sustainability, project management and sustainable project management?

  • What are affected and influential areas of project management for sustainable project management?

  • What are topics related to sustainable project management?


Methods And Data Base

To research the connection between sustainability and project management we followed the procedure of a literature review combined with bibliometric analysis and qualitative content analysis.

For the literature review, Cooper’s method (Cooper, 1989) was chosen. In order to assure a clear research direction and a relevant database, the focus is set on the correct classification of the literature review and the problem formulation stage (Cooper, 1989). For the analysis of our identified data, we use Mayring’s qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2015). In this method, categories are created and subsequently analysed. To receive information from the material on quantitative aspects like the temporal evolution, the most productive author or recurrent institutions and countries, we refer to Ball and Tunger’s bibliometric analysis (Ball & Tunger, 2005).

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