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Human Resource Management in Project-Based Organisations: Challenges, Changes, and Capabilities
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2918-2341
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Human resource management i projektbaserade organisationer : utmaningar, förändringar och förmågor (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis addresses human resource management in project-based organisations. The aim is to explore the challenges for HRM in project-based organisations and the changes in people management systems to meet these challenges. The thesis consists of a compilation of six papers and an extended summary. The research reported in the thesis is based on a combination of multiple, comparative, and single case studies of project-based organisations. The core case studies have been conducted at Saab Aerosystems, AstraZeneca, Volvo Car Corporation, and Tetra Pak. The results indicate central challenges regarding competence development and career structures, performance review processes and reputation of project workers, and the increased responsibility and pressured work environment for project workers. They further indicate that many of these challenges are handled through a more HR-oriented line manager role, while HR departments are downsized and centralised. The thesis hence emphasises the need to understand HRM as a dimension of management in which various players share the responsibility for its design and performance. To conclude, the thesis applies a capabilities perspective on project-based organisations and develops a conceptual framework that embraces people capability: the organisational capability to manage the relation between people and their organisational context. In this framework, people management systems improve people capability when they integrate it with strategic, functional, and project capabilities. It is suggested that the people capability framework provides new possibilities to analyse HRM in project-based organisations and to explain the changes in people management systems that are needed to align them to the project-based context.

Abstract [sv]

I avhandlingen studeras human resource management (HRM) i projektbaserade organisationer. Syftet är att utforska de utmaningar som HRM i projektbaserade organisationer möter på grund av de speciella karaktärsdrag som denna organisationsform har, samt hur personalarbetet i denna typ av organisationer förändras för att anpassas till ett projektbaserat arbetssätt. Avhandlingen är en sammanläggningsavhandling bestående av sex artiklar och kappa, författade på engelska. Artiklarna bygger på fallstudier av projektintensiva och kunskapsintensiva organisationer. De centrala fallstudierna har genomförts på Saab Aerosystems, AstraZeneca, Volvo Car Corporation och Tetra Pak. Avhandlingen visar på utmaningar gällande kompetensutveckling och karriärvägar, utvärderingsprocesser och rykte för projektmedarbetare, samt individens ökade ansvar och tidspressade arbetssituation. De visar vidare på att många av dessa utmaningar framför allt hanteras genom en mer HR-orienterad roll för första linjens chefer medan personalavdelningar minskas och centraliseras. I avhandlingen tydliggörs därför vikten av att förstå HRM som en dimension av management där flera aktörer tillsammans bidrar till dess utförande och uppbyggnad. Avslutningsvis används ett perspektiv som fokuserar organisatoriska förmågor i projektbaserade företag för att utveckla en konceptuell modell för people capability: den organisatoriska förmågan att hantera relationen mellan individer och deras organisatoriska kontext. Modellens utgångspunkt är att personalarbetet i projektbaserade organisationer kan bidra till en förbättrad people capability om det integrerar denna förmåga med strategiska, funktionella och projektförmågor. I avhandlingen föreslås att people capability modellen ger nya möjligheter att analysera HRM i projektbaserade organisationer och att förklara de förändringar personalarbetet som krävs för att anpassa det till det projektbaserade arbetssättet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2008. , 137 + papers 1-6 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 431
Keyword [en]
HRM, project-based organisations, people management systems, people capability, project management, line management, HR department, project capability
Keyword [sv]
personalarbete, people capability, projektledning, linjechef, HR-avdelning, projekt, HRM, projektbaserade organisationer
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11533ISBN: 978-91-7393-925-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-11533DiVA: diva2:17968
Public defence
2008-05-09, A2, House A, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Perspectives on Human Resource Management: An explorative study of the consequences of projectification in four firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perspectives on Human Resource Management: An explorative study of the consequences of projectification in four firms
2006 (English)In: International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, ISSN 1465-6612, Vol. 6, no 1, 92-113 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Various forms of project-based organisational structures are on the rise. A number of recent empirical studies have emphasised the important role of Human Resource Management (HRM) in the understanding of the modern projectified firm. However, previous research has not analysed in any greater detail what implications projectification have for HRM. In our attempt to contribute to the intersection between project-based firms and human resource management, this paper zeros in on the challenges facing HRM in four large Swedish firms. We address the following questions: How has HRM changed due to the increasing projectification observed in the firms under study? What are the major challenges to the HRM practice observed in the case studies? We suggest a four-perspective model for the analysis of the identified changes of, and challenges for, current HRM practice. The perspectives include competence, trust, change and individuals. Based on these perspectives, we identify some key questions for HRM and suggest an analytical framework for the analysis of the change of HRM and the new roles of HRM given the increased projectification observed in the case-study companies.

Keyword
human resources management, projects, change, competence, trust, individuals, projectification, project-based firms
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14104 (URN)
Available from: 2006-11-14 Created: 2006-11-14 Last updated: 2015-09-22
2. HRM and project intensification in R&D-based companies: A study of Volvo Car Corporation and AstraZeneca
Open this publication in new window or tab >>HRM and project intensification in R&D-based companies: A study of Volvo Car Corporation and AstraZeneca
2006 (English)In: R & D Management, ISSN 0033-6807, Vol. 36, no 5, 467-485 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Projects have become the standard mode of organising R&D activities. The main focus of this paper is to analyse the relationship between the project operations of the R&D-based firm and its Human Resource Management (HRM). This paper draws on a comparative case study of AstraZeneca and Volvo Car Corporation. It is argued that the project intensification currently under way has some important structural and content effects on the HRM practice of the firms. As to the content effects, we identify five critical areas within the HRM practice where special attention is needed due to project intensification. As to the structural effects, we identify two separate logics for HR specialists: the HR-based logic and the task-based logic. These logics give new knowledge about the design of the HR organisation and how the HR departmental structures should be adapted in a project-intensive setting. The case studies also illustrate three alternative roles for line managers when they assume increased HR responsibility.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13170 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9310.2006.00448.x (DOI)
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2015-09-22
3. Reconceptualising line management in project-based organisations: The case of competence coaches at Tetra Pak
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reconceptualising line management in project-based organisations: The case of competence coaches at Tetra Pak
2007 (English)In: Personnel review, ISSN 0048-3486, E-ISSN 1758-6933, Vol. 36, no 5, 815-833 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The aim of the article is to analyse HR devolution from HR departments to the line. Two important problems are addressed. The first problem concerns the disregard for the changes in line management that comes with HR devolution. The second problem addressed deals with the lack of studies of organisational contingencies.

Design/methodolgy/approach: The paper presents and analyses an in-depth case study of a radically projected firm within the Tetra Park group where a new HR-oriented management role has been created to replace the traditional line management role. Based on the case study findings, the paper elaborates on the new approach to line management and how a new management role is moulded in the context of project-based organisations.

Findings: Based on literature studies, the paper identifies four key challenges for HRM in project-based organisations that are critical for the development of the new approach to line management in such settings. Based on case study observations, it analyses the creation of a new management role – the so called “competence coach” – in project-based organisation within the Tetra Park group. It argues that the new approach adopted points to the need of breaking out of traditional conceptions of line management, and of developing the concept of an HR-oriented management role that is a legitimate player in the HR organisation of a firm.

Originality/value: The paper provides a rich case description of a project-based firm in a HRM perspective. The descriptions and the analysis give practical as well as theoretical implications of HRM issues that arise in project-based firms, and of changes in line management as a way of developing the capabilities to handle these issues.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2007
Keyword
Devolution, Human resource development, Human resource management, Line management
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13171 (URN)10.1108/00483480710774061 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
4. Fit for purpose?: Designing HR organisations and HR departments in project-based organisations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fit for purpose?: Designing HR organisations and HR departments in project-based organisations
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, ISSN 1465-6612, E-ISSN 1741-5160, Vol. 10, no 4, 327-361 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper makes three contributions: 1) it suggests a conceptual separation between HR organisation and HR departments to better comprehend the challenges facing HRM in project-based firms, 2) it identifies two configurations of HR departments to advance the comparative analysis across project-based organisations, and 3) it offers a model and a set of propositions to determine the organisational conditions influencing the design of the HR organisation and the HR department. The paper emphasises the importance of the character of functional coordination and type of project participation for the design of the HR organisation and HR department.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
InderScience Publishers, 2010
Keyword
HRM, HR department, HR specialist, project organisation, project-based firms, projectification, configuration, structure, HR organisation
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13172 (URN)10.1504/IJHRDM.2010.036087 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
5. People capability of project based organisations: A conceptual framework
Open this publication in new window or tab >>People capability of project based organisations: A conceptual framework
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Project Management, ISSN 0263-7863, E-ISSN 1873-4634, Vol. 26, no 5, 566-576 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper develops a conceptual framework intended to increase the understanding of human resource management (HRM) in project-based organisations. Drawing on the capabilities perspective on project-based organisations, it makes two main contributions. First, it proposes the concept of ‘people capability’ to broaden the conceptualisation of HRM in project-based organisations. Secondly, building on the framework proposed by Davies and Brady [Davies A, Brady T. Organisational capabilities and learning in complex product systems: towards repeatable solutions. Res Policy 2000;29(7–8):931–53], an extended conceptual framework for people capability of project-based organisations is suggested. In this framework, people management systems are conceived as the expression of an integration of people capability with strategic, functional and project capabilities. Based on this framework, three sets of activities for the people management system in project-based organisations are identified. Finally, the paper discusses possible avenues for future research within the area of organisational capabilities of project-based organisations.

Keyword
People capability, Projects, Project-based organisations, Human resource management, People management systems, Organisational capabilities, Project capabilities
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13173 (URN)10.1016/j.ijproman.2008.05.002 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
6. Improving people capability of project-based organisations: A study of the change of HRM in two engineering-intensive firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Improving people capability of project-based organisations: A study of the change of HRM in two engineering-intensive firms
2008 (English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13174 (URN)
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2015-09-22

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