Mark defended his dissertation titled “The Relevance of Historical Project Lessons to Contemporary Business Practice” in November 2013. Mark was supervised by Chris Procter, Senior Lecturer, Salford Business School.
Despite worldwide growth in project management there is a significant gap between research and practice. The discipline lacks a unified theory and established body of research. Bodies of knowledge reflect process and technique yet frequently neglect the political, social and ethical dimensions of project management.
The theory of established academic disciplines evolves through history and by a study of their historical antecedents. The principal question of this thesis thus is concerned with the relevance of historical projects lessons to contemporary business practice and contemporary project management? The secondary question is concerned with the development of an approach to studying this. In addressing these questions the thesis examines some of the challenges with contemporary project management literature, and literature that discusses the relevance of historical project lessons including that from other disciplines such as management.
The thesis describes the use of a qualitative approach, based upon an interpretivist epistemology as the basis for use of case studies. In addition it discusses the use of historiography and interdisciplinarity. It then examines the methods used and findings of nine publications and their contributions to the research questions.
The findings of the thesis establish that project management has a deep history, and has been successfully used by developing cultures since the beginnings of civilization. They also establish that historical projects, when interpreted through a business/project management lens, can be understood by contemporary project managers and are of significant and meaningful value to contemporary business practice. The methodology to establish this is also described. Thus the thesis will contribute to both the project management body of knowledge, by broadening it out and augmenting contemporary case studies, and to addressing the theory–practice gaps within project management.