Shedding Light to A Permanent-Temporary Dilemma by Investigating Projects as Complex Inter-Organizational Systems

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A project can be seen as a complex temporary organization, which integrates the efforts of multiple permanent organizations aimed to deliver transition and produce a tangible end-product. However, temporary organizations requires different management approaches than traditional permanent organizations potentially causing problems, when these two distinctive forms of organizing collide. Previous project management research has dealt with the temporal dimension by defining project as a complex system developing in time. However, we do not still fully know how such multi-organizational system evolves before, during and after the project, thus what roles temporary and permanent organizing have on a complete system lifecycle. We address a research question: How do temporary and permanent organizing coexist and how their management differs on the lifecycle of a complex inter-organizational system? Through a qualitative single case study, we map different activities occurring on the lifecycle of an inter-organizational system of Rehapolis, which is a disability health care campus and a local health care service network. In order to illustrate the dynamism of such system, we use qualitative data for social network analysis (SNA) to draw inter-organizational network in three different lifecycle phases. Our findings underline the importance of system lifecycle perspective in project management. The conceptualization of a project as a distinct phase on a longer lifecycle of a complex inter-organizational system allows us to better understand the high dynamism within such system helping distinguish between temporary and permanent organizing and their management. Finally, we present five differentiating features of the two parallel organizing forms.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorking Paper Proceedings - 15th Engineering Project Organization Conference
EditorsAshwin Mahalingam, Tripp Shealy, Nuno Gil
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2017
MoE publication typeD3 Professional conference proceedings
EventEngineering Project Organizations Conference - Lake Tahoe, United States
Duration: 5 Jun 20177 Jun 2017
Conference number: 15


ConferenceEngineering Project Organizations Conference
Abbreviated titleEPOC
CountryUnited States
CityLake Tahoe

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