My research proposal

I haven’t had as long as I would have liked to develop this but I thought it was worth sharing a summary of my research proposal in case anyone out there is interested and/or has any further thoughts. The title of my proposal is:

Driving forward organisational performance in UK higher education through effective project management practice(s)

The aim of the research is to investigate whether effective project management practice(s) can positively impact the organisational performance of UK higher education organisations. The objectives being to:

  • Explore the relationship between the maturity of project management practice(s) and organisational performance;
  • Research existing project management maturity models;
  • Benchmark project management across UK higher education using relevant project management maturity indicators; and
  • Provide UK higher education organisations with practical advice on improving organisational performance and recommend relevant support interventions.

I’ve only just handed it in. If it’s successful I’ll provide a bit more detail in a future post. A basic outline of activities include: greater research into project management maturity models; choosing an adequate fit for the sector; developing a survey and sending it out to relevant people across the sector (this needs more thought – thinking of focusing on IT departments, strategic planning departments and estates); analysing the responses and assessing whether or not mature project management practices impact upon organisational performance.

Let’s see if it gets accepted! If it does I’ll be starting on this officially in September although I’m gonna be doing a lot of reading in preparation.


10 thoughts on “My research proposal

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  2. Hi Andy – looks like a good proposal to me – I think one area worth a look ref PM in HE is the maturity of the organisation in relation to PM, rather than the other way round ie is the organisation able to take advantage of the benefits that can be brought by good PM. As a parallel, I heard a talk by Mark Stubbs from MMU recently where I interpreted what he was saying as ‘In order to have integrated systems, you need an integrated organisation’ – which is a similar thing in a different context, I think. Hope this makes sense!

  3. Andy
    I am not aware of any studies directly in the HE environment on this. I really like the idea of tying maturity to organisational performance, but a couple of challenges for you. Firstly, most HEIs are level 1 or thereabouts in my experience, and so your independent variable is unlikely to vary much, and they don’t as a matter of habit do assessments. Also, organisational performance of HEIs is not measured in the same way as for commercial organisations – so is difficult to track consistently. However, there were some studies done on TQM in the 1990s which got a lot of publicity – the Profitability Impact of Market Share database projects surveyed organisational leaders about their approach to quality (make it projects) and their belief about the impact on organisational performance. I can look up a reference for this if you need. Alternatively, there could be some suitable proxy measures that could be used. Lastly, Human Systems do this kind of benchmarking for their clients and may be able to offer some suggestions based on their experience for the HE context.
    Hope this helps. Best of luck with the study.

    • Thank you so much for this, it’s very helpful and I’ll certainly follow up those references. When I’ve had a chance to think about the points you’ve raised I’ll add another reply, certainly got my mind racing with ideas!

  4. Hi Andy, I think this sounds like a great proposal. There is a lack of work done in the past to assess the correlation of PM maturity and organisational performance generally, let alone in the HE context. The points raised above concerning the challenge of assessing ‘performance’ within this sector is, for me, another great reason to get into it.
    If you want some help getting started with this, I would love to help.
    Simon Gwilliam

    • Thanks Simon! I’m over the moon with all the responses so far, all of which seems pretty positive. I’ve got a bit of reading to do from a question I posted on the APM’s LinkedIn group. Once I’ve managed to get through that I’ll post another summary of where I’m at. I guess it’s just a case of contributing any further thoughts/ideas to relevant posts and providing some form of sense checking. Once I gain a bit of momentum I might start running a Google Hangout or something similar where anyone interested can discuss it. I’ll keep you updated :-)

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