Mobilizing Project Knowledge in Temporary Organizations

By: Chivonne Algeo   Robert Moehler  

Project managers need to effectively mobilize their knowledge to meet time-driven demands in temporary organizations created to successfully deliver projects. Our research shows that using stories and/or storytellers significantly reduces the time required to share relevant knowledge. The storyteller's role is to share context-specific information to "…extend the organization’s capability to make informed, rational decisions" (Dalkir, 2005, p. 60). This paper reviews current publications on storytelling to mobilize knowledge. Mobilized knowledge is "… often transferred between people by stories, gossip, and by watching one another work" (Pfeffer & Sutton, 1999, p. 90). Laufer and Hoffman (2000) suggest that "…the study of success stories told by [project] practitioners is unique in its capabilities to generate and disseminate knowledge"(2000, p. xvi). Storytelling can also be characterised as "narrative inquiry" where "…stories are driven forward by a detailed explanation of the cause-and-effect relationship between an action and its consequence" (Denning, 2006, p. 45). We suggest that "narrative inquiry" may be an effective way to generate and disseminate knowledge when managing temporary organizations e.g. projects. The findings of our literature review suggest that social exchange, or narrative, can successfully mobilize knowledge between people with the intention of eliciting an outcome. We found that the literature also identified that informal relationships that develop within formal systems are the predominant form of explicit knowledge mobilization in project management. These informal knowledge mobilization systems underpin how project managers mobilize knowledge in a social context to make informed decisions, highlighting the value of relationships in an organization.

Knowledge Mobilization, Project Management, Temporary Organizations, Storytelling, Narrative Inquiry
Knowledge Management
Virtual Lightning Talk

Dr. Chivonne Algeo

Associate Professor, Faculty of IT, Monash University, Australia
Victoria, Australia

Chivonne Algeo, PhD, is an experienced academic and researcher in the field of project management, and has more than 20 years of experience deliverying a variety of projects for major financial, insurance, and health organizations. As an Associate Professor with Monash University, Australia, Chivonne leads the development and delivery of courses for students and industry to advance their capability for managing projects. Chivonne's international award winning research focuses on acquiring and exchanging project knowledge; procurement models for managing major projects; developing organizational project management competencies through industry clusters; individual and group reflection to improve project practice; converting knowledge to make evidence-based decisions; and examining the interactions and roles of change managers and project managers. Her research is published in international journals and books, and is presented at leading research and industry conferences and forums. Chivonne Chairs the Project Organizing special interest group of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, is a Member of the Project Management Institute, and a LIfe Fellow of the Australian Institute of Project Management.

Robert Moehler

Lecturer, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Australia