The underlying theory of project management is obsolete

Lauri Koskela, Gregory Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


In prior literature, it has been generally seen that there is no explicit theory of project management. We contend that it is possible to precisely point out the underlying theoretical foundation of project management as espoused in the PMBOK Guide by PMI and mostly applied in practice. This foundation can be divided into a theory of project and a theory of management. We link theories to the body of
knowledge by comparing prescriptions derived from theory to prescriptions presented in the PMBOK. Secondly, we show, by a comparison to competing theories and by an analysis of anomalies (deviations from assumptions or outcomes as implied in the body of knowledge) observed in project management practice, that this foundation is obsolete and has to be substituted by a wider and more powerful theoretical foundation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4534317
Pages (from-to)22-34
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Engineering Management Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2008
Externally publishedYes


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