Areas Of Challenge The Hidden Sources Of Competitive Advantage In Project Management

Because projects are conducted in complex, dynamic environments and involve a strong knowledge-based component, they cannot continue to be assessed as sources of competitive advantage if they are only evaluated on the basis of concrete, codified practices. In order to assess project management's potential as a strategic resource, we should also examine the intangible dimensions of the discipline, such as knowledge-based assets, tacit knowledge, and social capital practices. This section provides a brief introduction to the concept of intangible assets in project management.

Deploying knowledge assets contributes to a firm's competitive advantage. Knowledge is about creating, acquiring, capturing, sharing, and using knowledge. The common thread between knowledge, data, and information is that they all involve a personal dimension. A useful way of looking at knowledge is with the iceberg analogy. The tip of the iceberg represents the explicit or visible body of knowledge, such as the knowledge developed and shared through the tangible project management practices discussed in this paper (e.g., project management office and methodologies). Explicit knowledge is more formal, codified, and transmitted systematically. Explicit knowledge is the "know-what" that can be documented. However, the larger component of the "iceberg" is ignored, submerged, and tacit.

Tacit knowledge is personal, experiential, context-specific, and rooted in action. Nonaka divides tacit knowledge into technical and cognitive dimensions.28 The technical dimension covers informal personal skills and crafts and could be called "know-how." The cognitive dimension involves beliefs, ideals, values, and mental models. Tacit knowledge involves the ability to innovate, which can also be a source of competitive advantage.

Tacit knowledge has also been likened to the currency of the informal economy, yet little project management research has been done on this topic. Tacit knowledge is shared through socialization. Social capital is an intangible attribute of the relationships among members of a social unit.29 Project teams share what they know through communities of practice. Communities of practice have social capital underpinnings and social capital is based on making connections with others, promoting durable networks, enabling trust, and fostering cooperation.30 (See Chapter 29 for further discussion of COPs in project management.)

An extensive literature review did not indicate that project management had been studied using the Resource-Based View lens, and few publications discussed project management in terms of core competencies.31 Further, few publications have addressed the social capital nature of project management. This is an emerging area of practice development for the discipline.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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