A comparative exploration of the development of project delivery capabilities in large organisations

  • John Earwood

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores how organisations develop an ability to deliver projects. It is argued that the practical models currently used to support the implementation of such capabilities, include only limited guidance as to how such a capability may be developed on a contingency basis, i.e. by considering the nature of the project they deliver and the organisational context in which they operate. This inductive study uses a small sample of diverse cases to explore the actions taken by managers to develop each project capability over time. To capture development actions across the whole of a capability’s lifecycle, a narrative inquiry approach was used to interview the managers who led each capability’s evolution. Analysis procedures were adapted from the two conventional approaches of narrative inquiry analysis described by (De Fina & Georgakopoulou, 2008). Firstly to create a set of development themes addressed by the narrators, and then to reflect on how each theme was addressed in the context of the projects the capability delivered. As well as the organisation and business environment in which it operated. Additional documentation pertaining to each case was also reviewed and findings discussed with narrators for further clarification. The research resulted in a contingency-based conceptual model of seventeen themes, to help guide the practical creation of new and existing capabilities, as well as providing a basis for more detailed work in each thematic area. As this is a study for a professional Doctorate in Business Administration, the study also reflects on the new theoretical model, and the interventions that could be made by businesses wishing to improve the delivery of their projects, etc., as well as reduce the likelihood of expensive project failures.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorPhilip Brabazon (Supervisor), Mark Xu (Supervisor) & Katharina Maria Burger (Supervisor)

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