On Belonging and Being Professional: In Pursuit of an Ethics of Sharing in Project Teams

  • Manuela NockerEmail author
Part of the Management – Culture – Interpretation book series (MCI)


This chapter seeks to advance an ethics of sharing through the lens of a project team of a global management-consulting firm. Today’s project teams are heavily burdened by dominant project management approaches that are overly reliant on pre-defined knowledge, standardisation of practice, and the pursuit of a unitary identity in teams. In re-thinking current practice, this chapter introduces a performative view of project teams that constructs social selves and identities in different situated and on-going narratives of project work. Unlike the mainly ‘value-free’ view of today’s project management, project teams imagine the own social space creatively whilst in action, thus constructing different narratives about preferred ways of doing and being in projects. In particular, ‘being professional’ is entangled with on-going identifications and personal senses of belonging in the team. Methodologically, the adoption of a two-way narrative analysis including a focus on poetic tropes contained in narratives reveals what is considered legitimate or not in every-day team practice.

Findings show the emergence of three types of ethical imagination in terms of emphatic, normative as well as more explicit ethical dimensions defining the team’s life-world. They can support an alternative view of professional identities and of their sustainability in project work. Starting from a dynamic view of project management practice, they tentatively address questions and issues that are often neglected in project management such as the role of wisdom, beyond merely standardised knowledge and expertise, and the creation of alternative forms of responsibility and citizenship in groups. More often than not, these need to be fostered in fragile and hybrid spaces of collective action whilst the possibility (or indeed desirability) of solidarity in the realm of project work may be questioned and challenged. Yet the reward of engaging in a more nuanced manner with an ethics of sharing ‘on the ground’ will allow for opening up spaces of belonging and the expansion of moral imaginations in projects.


Project Management Project Team Professional Identity Social Space Project Work 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management Science and Entrepreneurship Group Essex Business SchoolUniversity of Essex Southend CampusEssexUnited Kingdom

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