Professionalization and Dissemination Processes for Project Management Practices: A Situationist Perspective

  • Giuseppe Calabrese
  • Primiano Di Nauta
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation book series (LNISO, volume 6)


The aim of this paper is to propose an alternative interpretation for professionalization and dissemination processes for project management among those prevailing in literature. The considered perspective is that of the situationist, an epistemological option which moves from a critical conceptual framework to the hypothesis of strong rationality for individual and organizational choices. The perspective is enriched, on the one hand, thanks to the contributions of the neo-institutionalist strand and, on the other hand, by the theoretical tools developed in the rich array of cognitive study and phenomenological action and social life, as well as the analysis of the concept of power. The integration of these approaches allows the re-reading, the formation, the structuring, the change and the reconfiguration contexts of organized action (such as that of project management) as the product of two forces, complementary and mutually antagonistic action and institutionalization. Through the proposed lens, it is possible to frame the processes of professionalization and dissemination of project management practices focusing on the skein of both the material and symbolic constraints that the institutions have on human behavior [1]. The thesis is that, starting from the mid 1950s, originating from the Anglo-Saxon world, and due to the action of some institutional entrepreneurs, the construction of an organizational field, as the result of which the ‘practice’ project management began to be institutionalized, was undertaken. Subsequently, it has been spread triggering a process called ‘contagion of legitimacy’. In other words, according to the approach in question, the dynamics of professionalization and dissemination of project management practices, rather than being understood through the analysis of elements of technical rationality, should be somehow relocated to intrinsic processes of social legitimation and institutional processes known as isomorphism. The processes of professionalization and dissemination of project management practices, therefore, appear not so much and not only as an implementation technique, but as a complex web of interaction ritual, held together and stabilized not by sharing cultural values to which individuals have joined, but by way of reducing the uncertainty arising from practical knowledge of behavior deemed appropriate, pro tempore, in a context of organized action.


Professionalization Action Institutionalization Isomorphism Power Organizational field 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly

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