Literature on Research Agenda in Project Management


The term project management evolved in the mid-20th century, and it has become distinctive in the coordination of business activities in the modern world. Innovation has also emerged as virtually universal in promoting corporate change, profitability, and growth. It is usually run by project management teams in any essential research field. However, project management and innovation have theoretically developed as distinct subjects. This paper critically conceptualizes innovation project management and specifies the roles played by leadership and research agendas in the successful completion of such projects. Indeed, the research agenda is a valuable tool to create a study vision and prevent potential complications because the success of innovative projects depends on adherence to the plan, utilization of competencies, and leadership styles. The primary objectives of project management, leadership, and research agenda are to attain goals, find practical solutions to specific issues, and distribute team members’ roles. Still, these fields require more in-depth research since the current literature is incomplete. Overall, this work contributes to the project management field by illustrating the value of leadership and research agenda in project management.


Innovation, project management, research agenda, and leadership are four closely interrelated concepts. The interests in these terms resulted in emerging agendas and corporate studies in the engineering field. The contribution of leadership to project management is well established by different authors in their works. Within the last several decades, leadership skills, new projects, and business models have employed robust innovations in this sphere (Bredillet, 2008). Project management is a rapidly growing field of study with great diversity and academic richness that should be recognized. It demands proper research to understand and map appropriate findings and characteristics that emerged from different studies. It is an area of great significance that organizations utilizing knowledge about project management should employ in the 21st century. Thus, recognition in broader fields of education will give a richer understanding of the suggested progress in management (Moehler, Hope and Algeo, 2018). This paper aims to follow Bredillet’s (2008) organization of thoughts that arise from nine schools that base their theoretical ideas on planning and management. Indeed, research agenda and leadership are instrumental to attaining successful outcomes in project management.

Context of project management and research agenda identification

Fields of Application

Various manuscripts produced by major schools showed an association between project management fields that highlight the current and potential insights and research questions. The significance of project management over the last six decades has been its capability to achieve organizations’ strategic objectives (Moczydłowska and Sadkowska, 2021). Furthermore, these strategies became essential to oversee rising uncertainties, increasing complexities, and ambiguities that hinder the social, economic, and organizational environment. According to Bredillet (2008), competence and resources are vital requirements in the success of projects. Mobilization of resources and competencies is critical in promoting competitive advantages and creating organizational value (Alvarenga et al., 2019). In the mid-1980s, engineering, construction, information technology, and defense were profound areas that started to appreciate the importance of project management. Currently, project management is a requirement in the modern world of innovation in different fields; hence, the world economy now utilizes it vigorously (Frefer et al., 2018). Overall, attaining success in an innovative project asks for the utilization of relevant competencies, teamwork, and organizational, individual, and societal performance at all levels.

Leaders in project management are supposed to play critical roles in promoting education programs and research to eliminate the gaps in knowledge in different fields. The essence of project management was realized by non-profit and private organizations worldwide (Moehler, Hope and Algeo, 2018). The knowledge of this field can be applied not only in the sphere of engineering but also in business sectors. For instance, operation research implements this knowledge in the introduction of optimization tools that have spread across the nine schools. On the other hand, the modern level of project management development requires support from the research community that contributes to this field. This support will help clarify critical research trends in establishing sources for starting projects. It will also be valuable in creating current social and economic situations that organizations tend to contextualize.

Historical Recognition of the Research Agenda

Most of the time, research areas need effective identification of research agendas. It serves as support in the academic and management subject that require recognition by the community. Thus, these developments can be supported by ensuring that the research community is given a complete and recognizable role in management. Ignorance about project management can have adverse consequences when outcomes are weighted as academic subjects. For example, project management has been ignored since its second professional workshop in 2007 for lack of division in the academy of management that explicitly addresses project management. There are few literature sources of information and materials published by the academy management journal (Ali and Miller, 2017). Unfortunately, only four papers on topics that relate to project management could be traced over the last 20 years. Moreover, project management was not perceived as the subject, even though technology and operation management are vastly associated with project management.

European Academy of Management focused on the promise and potential success that project management can bring. Such an initiative helped to achieve statuses that attract more participants at the conferences where various inventions of this field are usually presented. Although project management has been disdained for a long time, it eventually received appropriate recognition in the academic communities and achieved success. Indeed, the World Bank statistics indicate that the world’s GDP is a project on its own that apprises from project management (Bredillet, 2008). Private and public organizations have found the applicability of project management while formulating their expenditures. In fact, adherence to project management guarantees success in this field for the academic community and the world economy.

The Demand for Additional Funding for Research in This Field

The body of existing literature shows diversity, complexity, and richness worthy of scholarly studies which contribute to management; hence, project management deserves additional funding for research (Ahmed and Philbin, 2020). The identification of diversity and richness of project management was demonstrated in the nine schools of thought. Furthermore, it can be helpful in identifying continued project management withdrawal and contributions to other fields related to management. Therefore, more practical studies should be conducted and reviews that discuss project management and the reflection of advanced data from researchers and thinkers in the field of management need to be written. Project management is a recognizable field of literature that is subject to characteristics observed in management.

Different perspectives in the research agenda identification


Success in project management has been a matter of difference between review papers written by various authors. Still, all these distinctions contribute to the common objective of project managers. Although it has been established that competence and leadership gear success in projects, Bredillet (2008) also suggests factors such as the people, the relationships, behavior, decisions, contingence, interactions, optimization, processes, modeling, governance, and marketing. Leadership styles are perceived as a way that guarantees success through effective organization and distribution of responsibilities. Conversely, an inappropriate leadership strategy creates division and eliminates cohesion in a team (Gandolfi, Stone and Deno, 2017). Consequently, various leadership styles are essential in promoting corporate responsibilities. For instance, servant leadership is a central approach that project managers are encouraged to use (Green et al., 2016). Indeed, people are the creators of knowledge comprised of natural and legal identities because they generate knowledge through academic studies. Research is a valuable tool utilized to develop an understanding in different management fields.

Cooperation and Corporate Responsibility

Another critical factor is people’s communication and cooperation within their disciplines. Project management is interconnected with other disciplines in all fields of management. Since the 1940s, the management field has started to employ directional project management through reciprocated borrowing (Bredillet, 2008). Decision-making entirely depends on such areas as information technology and six sigma methodology in transferring bidirectional ideas. People within the academic community are associate workers in management institutions of engineering, construction, building, and management in collaborating with their subject colleagues. In this manner, these institutions have helped shape research agendas in project management through interschool cooperation. Therefore, a collaboration between different institutions that deal with project management in answering research questions and objectives was created.

Internal and external evaluation of projects among research communities creates additional relationship interfaces. Research projects can be connected in several ways; specifically, they possess commonalities in research agendas. Hence, these relationships create a channel through which knowledge and ideas are shared. Furthermore, it makes room for future developments in literature and sharing of innovations and research networks (Martens and Carvalho, 2017). Project management is effective in acting as a novel instrument for the successful completion of a project since innovation is a crucial requirement for attaining success in various disciplines (Bredillet, Tywoniak and Tootoonchy, 2018). It also mirrors an organization’s desire to optimize its goals and objectives. Overall, competencies, people, leadership styles, and corporate responsibility in organization management ensure success in the management of projects.

Identify and develop literature for research agenda

Defining Roles of a Research Agenda in Projects

Research agenda can be understood as the statement or plan of how a particular goal will be achieved. According to Bredillet (2008), the importance of this concept is recognized by Project Management Institutions that expand their budget allocated to studies in this field every year. It allows for foreseeing potential obstacles that may appear and introducing timely measures to prevent these problems. Notably, it can be challenging to distribute roles and duties among team members without a research plan. Furthermore, setting an agenda simplifies the entire research process, creating a distinct path toward the final goal. Indeed, the value of research agenda cannot be overstated because an appropriate plan is a foundation for successfully completing a project.

Competence, Knowledge, and Research

Three primary definitions describe project management in different fields: knowledge, people, and rules. These concepts help structure many discussions about project management as a field of knowledge, explaining various ways and perspectives on how skills are acquired in this discipline. Different approaches, including historical, empirical, rational, and pragmatic methods, helped reveal that knowledge is a requirement in developing competence (Bredillet, 2008). Even established environments are subject to modifications if the strategic approach is utilized in projects. These strategies ensure the mobilization of recourses and competencies in the creation of source values and competitive advantage. Competencies are significant in project management since most organizations commonly share resources.

Organizations are vital players in actualizing past events, future actions that create new competencies, and present actions that reveal competencies. Companies base their competence on project managers, teams, and organizations’ maturity. According to Bredillet (2008), more competencies in a company create higher chances for success. Notably, organizational proficiency depends on a firm’s personnel involved in particular projects. Indeed, employees play the role of stakeholders and share companies’ values. However, the contradiction may arise because of the gap in maturity and capabilities of managers to deal with projects and employees’ contribution to a project’s total success. Besides, the success of a project in management is attributed to learning and progress. Knowledge helps to facilitate the implementation of new portfolios, projects, and programs.

Critical analysis of the research agenda upon reflecting other project management research

The research agenda established a strong correlation between factors that guarantee success in a project because it allows for generating a vision of the entire research process and its consequences. If one cannot imagine the course of action when working on a specific question, the results Will inevitably be inaccurate and less reliable. Notably, modern research is no longer a product of serendipity but the outcome of thoughtful planning. In fact, the research agenda is an integral Part of project management since it serves as guidance in any activity. Project management is a human activity that is not only applied in the industrial sector but also a critical element in other research areas. It is an endeavor in which material, human, and financial resources are organized and planned in a novel manner to achieve a determined scope of work (Nicholas and steyn, 2020). Achievement of the set objectives demands specification, which tends to put a constraint on time and cost in an effort to generate beneficial changes in qualitative and quantitative results. Still, project management has not achieved a unified theoretical definition because of the multitude of interdisciplinary characteristics.

Lessons, limitations, and future of research agenda and other project management research


Project management and its elements are broadly applied in innovation studies in all growing fields. However, the success depends on the project manager’s adherence to factors such as competencies, leadership skills, and research agenda. Indeed, these mechanisms and patterns are required for better functionalities. Furthermore, knowledge, competence, and resources from different schools of thought, as stated by Bredillet (2008), play a significant role in the field of project management. A company’s employees are also essential facilitators that contribute to the completion of projects because they are the creators and manipulators of knowledge. Relationships between the community of schools and researchers in this sphere create channels of shared ideas and skills. Therefore, diversification in efforts is crucial to address different sides of projects (Ika and Bredillet, 2016). Moreover, project management highlights the importance of setting research agendas properly because it creates an overview of all stages of a study. It also helps managers to plan, operate, and monitor their areas of supervision. Overall, the primary objectives of project management are to achieve goals effectively, find solutions to specific problems, and identify the roles of team members in organizations.

Limitations and Future of Research Agenda

This research paper employed theoretical and empirical studies related to project management, research agendas, and leadership competencies. The results from the nine schools of thought on management were evaluated, but they do not guarantee leadership and project management effectiveness. In fact, ideas evolving from each school utilized by Bredillet (2008) may become subject to editing and bias. Thus, there is an urgency to employ an independent systematic literature review in theoretical and practical contexts. There is also a necessity to improve future research studies to facilitate reliability and validity. Moreover, focus groups and interviews are alternative ways that can be used in future studies to better equip investigators in this sphere. A combination of a comprehensive review of the literature with in-person interviews in management fields such as engineering can help develop a robust research method.


Project management is a broad field that finds its applications in the economic sector and in other spheres that experience innovation. The success of a project is attributed to different factors, as stated by the nine schools of thought. Leadership styles, competencies, and the ability to set research agendas help attain success in projects. Competencies are behavior that contributes towards appropriate conduct between Key leaders and the participant of a project. It is presupposed that an understanding and collaboration among individuals create an atmosphere that supports project management and sustainability. The critical analysis revealed that leaders should encourage the personnel’s participation because people generate knowledge. They also facilitate and take research roles to ensure that project management goals are fulfilled. Moreover, project management is incomplete without research agendas because the latter allows for foreseeing challenges and future outcomes. Although studies in project management are achieving success, the literature is still inadequate. The field in project management has not fully developed to extract Rich data for references and conclusions to be drawn. Therefore, future research on project management needs to employ literature in the future to find effectiveness in research conclusions.

Reference list

Ahmed, R. and Philbin, S.P. (2020) ‘Systematic literature review of project manager’s leadership competencies’, Engineering Construction and Architectural Management, 28(1), pp. 1-30. doi: 10.1108/ECAM-05-2019-0276

Ali, M. and Miller, L. (2017) ‘ERP system implementation in large enterprises–a systematic literature review’, Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 30(4), pp. 666-692. doi: 10.1108/JEIM-07-2014-0071

Alvarenga, J.C. et al. (2019) ‘The project manager core competencies to project success’, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 13(2), pp. 277-292. doi: 10.1108/IJMPB-12-2018-0274

Bredillet, C. (2008) ‘Exploring research in project management: nine schools of project management research’, Project Management Journal, pp.1-21. doi: 10.1002/pmj.20030

Bredillet C., Tywoniak, S. and Tootoonchy, M. (2018) ‘Why and how do project management offices change? A structural analysis approach, International Journal of Project Management, 36(5), pp. 744-761. Doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2017.04.017

Frefer, A.A. et al. (2018) ‘Overview success criteria and critical success factors in project management’, Industrial Engineering & Management, 7(1), pp. 1-6. Doi: 10.4172/2169-0316.1000244

Gandolfi, F., Stone, S. and Deno, F. (2017) ‘Servant leadership: an ancient style with 21st-century relevance’, Review of International Comparative Management, 18(4), pp. 350-361.

Green, M.T. et al. (2016) ‘Servant leadership: a quantitative review of instruments and related findings’, Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, 2(2), pp.76-96.

Ika, L.A. and Bredillet, C.N. (2016) ‘The metaphysical questions every project practitioner should ask’, Project Management Journal, 47(3), pp. 86-100. doi: 10.1177/875697281604700308

Martens, M.L. and Carvalho, M.M. (2017) ‘Key factors of sustainability in project management context: a survey exploring the project managers’ perspective’, International Journal of Project Management, 35(6), pp. 1084-1102. doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2016.04.004

Moczydłowska, J. and Sadkowska, J. (2021) ‘Project culture as a key project success factor: the perspective of Polish project managers’, WSEAS Transactions on Business Economics, 18(78), pp. 822-837. doi: 10.37394/23207.2021.18.78

Moehler, R., Hope, A. and Algeo, C. (2018) ‘Sustainable project management: revolution or evolution’, Academy of Management Proceedings, 2018(1), pp. 1-31. doi: 10.5465/ambpp.2018.13583abstract

Nicholas, J.M. and Steyn, H. (2020) Project management for engineering, business and technology. London: Routledge.

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