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A study to develop a multi-loop learning framework for project management

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Project success rates could be improved by enabling organisations to fully implement the lessons learned process. Although lessons are often identified, their capture and categorisation face problems of both available time and process, while their utilisation for future projects appears limited.
This thesis makes a contribution to knowledge through developing a Triple-Loop Model of project learning within the organisational environment, by expanding the concept of single- and double-loop learning to reflect the three levels identified within project activities – project, process and organisation. Future research opportunities to determine generic reasons for failure to learn lessons are outlined, which will inform the development of a Project Learning Framework.
Adopting a Critical Realist approach, this thesis undertakes a comparative study of the Bodies of Knowledge and project management handbooks; conducts interviews with a range of stakeholders including project management instructors, corporate trainers and professional practitioners; and carries out an on-line survey of practitioners regarding the lessons learned process within UK project organisations.
The results determine the barriers and enablers to operating an effective lessons learned process, identifying cultural, processual and organisational issues. Models available within the spheres of organisational learning and knowledge management form the basis of discussion for the direction of a multi-loop model. Requirements are proposed to enable successful triple-loop project learning and create a culture of continuous improvement: to become a learning organisation, to improve communications at all levels, and to utilise advanced tools where required.
This research responds to the project learning problems identified in the literature review and practitioner survey, by representing the lessons learned process in a theoretical model, and practical application tables and flowchart. This thesis concludes by suggesting the validation and testing of the triple-loop model, and development of a multi-loop learning framework for project management.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award dateSep 2017

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