HRM and Project Management Relationship

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Aim, objectives, and feasibility of the dissertation

Successful implementation of any project hinges on the quality of human resource management (HRM) as much as effective project planning hinges on careful scrutiny of its deliverables; therefore, HRM can be considered an essential component of project management (Harrison and Lock, 2017; Kessler, 2013). Project HRM “consists of all the processes that assist a project manager in organizing, managing, and leading the project team” (Klimoski et al., 2014, p. 24).

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Just like other organizational projects, human resources (HR) projects require careful planning and coordination of all activities during an implementation stage. However, it can be argued that since HR projects often involve fundamental changes in organizational systems and processes, they are even more sensitive to solid project planning. A role of an effective project manager is not only to consider major contextual factors during the planning stage but also to build a cohesive and highly productive team. Therefore, they have to be able to perform the following HRM processes: develop HR plan, acquire the project team, develop a project team, and manage the project team (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014; Hill, Jones, and Schilling, 2015).

Taking into consideration the fact that when deciding on a research problem, a researcher has to make a set of assumptions that include, but are not limited to, ontological assumptions, rhetorical assumptions, ontological assumptions, and axiological assumptions, it is necessary to choose certain theoretical frameworks that will serve as philosophic orientations for developing a methodology for a study (Merriam and Tisdell, 2015; Young, 2013). Theoretical frameworks underpinning a study will have a direct influence on research questions, analysis of results, and discourse interpretation; therefore, it is necessary to explicitly mention them.

The transformational component of HRM presupposes certain philosophic orientations that will allow a project manager to increase the performance of employees, thereby transforming their experience, skills, and education into tangible benefits for an organization (Huemann, 2016). The following frameworks and theories will be used as paradigms of world views in the research: leadership theory, diversity theory, the competing values framework, human capital theory, and transformational theory of leadership.


The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between HRM and project management by examining the moderating role of HRM in project success.

Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses have been identified:

  • H1: There is a significant relationship between HRM and project management.
  • H2: Competent HRM has a direct impact on project success.

Research Objectives

The following research objectives have been identified:

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  1. To explore the relationship between HRM and project management.
  2. To analyze the moderating role of HRM on project success.

Feasibility of the Study

Based on the feasibility assessment, it can be concluded that the study is most likely to be delivered successfully. Due to the nature of the research, the study team should not encounter logistical challenges. Proper contingency planning has helped to ensure that there will not be insurmountable issues during the implementation stage of the project.

Literature review

Much of the previous research on the subject of HRM in project management has focused on identifying and evaluating core managerial mechanisms for coordinating the work of employees participating in a project. However, a systematic understanding of how competent HRM contributes to project success is still lacking. Previous studies also have failed to specify whether there is a relationship between HRM and project management and how it manifests in specific performance management systems.

A qualitative study by Clark and Colling (2005) examines the practical implications of project management systems on HRM. The scholars argue that the process of coordination and control of projects contains four essential components (Clark and Colling, 2005). The first component involves the invitation to bid and the creation of a contract. The second element of project management is the project design process, the aim of which is to mitigate potential risks and better understand logistical difficulties. The next component is the implementation that consists of two sub-components: “scheduling that involves converting a contract and process design into an operating timetable and effective control of delivery” (Clark and Colling, 2005, p. 179).

The fourth element of project management is project completion, which is followed by the assessment of its results. Besides demonstrating the essential components of project management, this study also suggests that a company’s competitive advantage hinges on its ability to incorporate efficient HRM practices in project management; therefore, it is applicable to the topic of the research. The results of the study show that the main goal of HR practitioners involved in the coordination of projects is to develop and implement methods and procedures for supporting existing management systems. The study also contains valuable insights into the established sets of relations within a project that fall under the jurisdiction of an HR manager; therefore, it can be used to further the research.

Another study conducted by Naoum, Alyousif, and Atkinson (2015) explores the relationship between national culture and management practices in the context of construction projects in the UAE. Since national and cultural dimensions of HRM are known to influence the degree of participation, decision making, and workforce relationships, it can be argued that this study makes a major contribution to the research because many projects are often extended across cultural and national boundaries (Naoum, Alyousif and Atkinson, 2015).

Without having a comprehensive view of cultural dynamics within international joint ventures, it is difficult to trace the connection between competent HRM and project success. Moreover, taking into consideration the fact that there is a wide spectrum of HRM practices in project-driven organizations, it is necessary to understand models of culture that can be used for the development of proper approaches to project control and coordination. Besides providing a cultural framework for assessing different organizational elements, the study also discusses the differences between Eastern and Western approaches to HRM.

The study indicates that there is a correlation between culture-oriented management practices and project performance. Unlike the study conducted by Clark and Colling (2005), which conspicuously misses the cultural approach to project management in its analysis, the source looks into the operational impact of cultural elements in the business environment. Since proper project management is not possible without careful consideration of cultural traditions, norms, and values of team members, it is safe to say that acknowledgment of cultural elements should shape effective management practices.

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Therefore, the second hypothesis can be derived from the study—competent HRM has a direct impact on project success. Taking into consideration the fact that there is a lack of engagement between the literature on cultural dimensions of HR and literature on project management, the studies by Clark and Colling (2005) and by Naoum, Alyousif, and Atkinson (2015) can be used to develop a broader perspective on the issue, thereby examining the moderating role of HRM on project success.

It can be argued that the development of the performance of the workforce, which is conducted by an HR department, is essential to “flexibility, agility and client-focused strategic alliances at all levels” (Pak, Carden and Kovach, 2016, p. 246). In contrast to Clark and Colling (2005) and Naoum, Alyousif, and Atkinson (2015), who have not treated the issue of performance development in the context of HRM in much detail, Pak, Carden, and Kovach (2016) complement their studies by introducing a comprehensive framework for the implementation of development initiatives.

The study will be used to farther the research because it can help to draw fine distinctions between different approaches to development processes that are necessary to ensure the success of a project. The study’s main premise, which states that effective training programs conducted by HR professionals are essential to the seamless cross-functional alignment of team members, effective partnership structure, and proper utilization of communication channels, can be used to derive the first hypothesis for the research—there is a significant relationship between HRM and project management.

The study by Pak, Carden, and Kovach (2016) is similar to the other two studies discussed in this section of the proposal in that it indicates that adequate allocation of human resources and control and coordination of execution of project activities by all team members is important to mitigation of potential risks. Therefore, it can be used for furthering the research.

Research Methodology and Methods

An epistemological stance has a bearing on research methodology because it serves as a philosophical grounding for distinguishing between different types of knowledge and how it can be proven to be legitimate (McNamee and Marie, 2012). A constructionist approach has been chosen for the research because it places an emphasis on the multiplicity of interpretations of data. Instead of treating the information garnered by a study as an assortment of objective facts, an investigator adopting a constructionist approach tries to analyze and interpret multiple realities and subjective meanings.

The research aims to explore the relationship between HRM and project management by examining the moderating role of HRM on project success. Given that employee’s actions are highly complex, it stands to reason that both primary and secondary data collected for the research will be context-bound and depend on cultural dynamics within organizations as well as emotions and rationales of involved individuals. Therefore, the researcher will embrace a diversity of different perspectives while weighing its results against theoretical frameworks underpinning the study.

Given that constructivist epistemology has been chosen for the study, the researcher will conduct the inquiry by adopting qualitative research design. Primary data will be collected through prolonged, unstructured interviews. The interviews will be delimited to several HRM managers who are employed in project management-led organizations. Interview questions will be designed to generate the managers’ perspectives on the relationship between HRM and project management.

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The interviewers will be assured that the researcher will “remove questions or lines of inquiry that could yield information damaging to a person’s reputation and will take steps to protect their privacy and confidentiality” (Silverman, 2013, p. 38). They will also be provided with consent forms. The secondary data will be obtained with the help of systematic review on the previous research on the topic. Inclusion criteria will be stated before the study is conducted and the process of article selection will be clearly and explicitly described in the review (Gough, 2015). The quality of articles will be comprehensively evaluated. In order to achieve the transparency of perspectives underpinning the study, it is necessary to indicate paradigms of world views that might influence research agendas.

The qualitative strategies of the research will be directed by the following frameworks and theories: leadership theory, diversity theory, the competing values framework, human capital theory, and transformational theory of leadership.

Research questions are based on the extant literature on the subject and framed in ways “that can be answered through qualitative methods” (Flick, 2014, p. 62). By exploring the relationship between HRM and project management, the researcher aims to bridge this study into a dialogue with previous research on the topic. The subject of the study is not associated with political and ideological contexts; however, some inquiries into cultural dimensions of HRM might be necessary to obtain a clear view of relational dynamics within international joint ventures (Miller et al., 2012).

Therefore, it is important to be acutely aware of social implications of the information discovered during the study as well as conclusions drawn by the researcher. Taking into consideration the fact that statistical analysis cannot be applied to qualitative research, the researcher will carefully evaluate the approaches to data interpretation process in order to stay within ethical boundaries. Furthermore, the researcher will consider the effects of numerous social stimuli and will be cognizant of ethical concerns of anonymity, confidentiality, and consent while conducting the study, reporting its results, and discussing major themes that have emerged during the inquiry.


Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S. (2014) Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice. 13th edn. London: Kogan Page.

Clark, I. and Colling, T. (2005) ‘The management of human resources in project management-led organizations’, Personnel Review, 34(2), pp. 178-191.

Flick, U. (2014) An introduction to qualitative research. 5th edn. New York: SAGE.

Gough, D. (2015) ‘Qualitative and mixed methods in systematic reviews’, Systematic Reviews, 4(1), pp. 181-183.

Harrison, F. and Lock, D. (2017) Advanced project management: a structured approach. Abingdon: Routledge.

Hill, C., Jones, G. and Schilling M. (2015) Strategic management: theory.11th edn. New York: Cengage Learning.

Huemann, M. (2016) Human resource management in the project-oriented organization: towards a viable system for project personnel. Abingdon: Routledge.

Kessler, E. (ed.) (2013) Encyclopedia of management theory. Los Angeles: Sage. vol. 1.

Klimoski, R., Dugan, B., Messikomer, C. and Chiocchio, F. (eds.) (2014) Advancing human resource management. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McNamee, S. and Marie, D. (2012) Research and social change: a relational constructionist approach. Abingdon: Routledge.

Merriam, S. and Tisdell, E. (2015) Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Miller, T., Mauthner, M., Birch, M. and Jessop, J. (2012) Ethics in qualitative research. 2nd edn. New York: SAGE.

Naoum, S., Alyousif, A. and Atkinson, A. (2015) ‘Impact of national culture on the management practices of construction projects in the United Arab Emirates’, Journal of Management in Engineering, 31(4), pp. 1-10.

Pak, A., Carden, L. and Kovach, J. (2016) ‘Integration of project management, human resource development, and business teams: a partnership, planning model for organizational training and development initiatives’, Human Resource Development International, 19(3), pp. 245-260.

Silverman, D. (2013) Doing qualitative research: a practical handbook. New York: SAGE.

Young, T. (2013) Successful project management. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

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