Background of the Study
Project management has gained massive popularity in the global society as a tool that is used to undertake major developmental initiatives. According to O’Neil (2019), the concept has gained massive popularity because of the approach of assigning specific resources that have to be utilized within a given period to achieve the desired outcome. Using this strategy of undertaking developmental initiatives, a company or a government entity can estimate the value of the project and the cost needed to achieve it. It eliminated the traditional approach where such activities would be assigned to a department without a clear understanding of the resources that would be needed and the time it may take to accomplish it. Project management is relevant to large, mid-sized, and small organizations because it emphasizes the need to manage resources effectively. It also promotes assigning tasks based on one’s skills and experience (Battistella, Toni, and Pillon, 2016). One of the most important tasks of a project manager is to assemble a team of experts who are capable of undertaking specific tasks in a project.
Inter-organizational relationships in project management are becoming increasingly common both in the public and private sectors. Gevorkian (2017) explains that when undertaking large projects, especially in the construction and technology sectors, it may be necessary to involve two or more companies specialized in different tasks. This approach of taking megaprojects helps in ensuring that each of the companies involved focuses on a specific area of the project where they have the needed expertise. The goal is to achieve perfection within the shortest period possible and use the least amount of resources. Some organizations prefer outsourcing specific services to ensure that specific tasks are done by specialists. It eliminates unnecessary mistakes and speeds up the entire process as per the expectations of the project owner and sponsors.
The success of such projects undertaken by different stakeholders is often based on the belief that each team will easily accomplish their tasks in a timely manner and use the assigned resources because of their expertise. However, Adeyekun (2019) warns that when using this strategy, it is critical to make sure that all employees involved in the project understand their roles clearly. The human resource manager has the primary responsibility of guaranteeing that employees, who previously had been working in different settings under varying organizational cultures, can work as a team to achieve a common goal in the project. Failure of the management to create a harmonized environment for all the employees can result in having a chaotic workplace environment.
The rationale for the Investigation
Inter-organizational relationships in project management have become unavoidable when undertaking large projects both in the public and private sectors. Some of these projects are complex and require two or more organizations with different specializations to ensure that the desired level of success is realized. You et al. (2019) observes that one of the major challenges that such initiatives face is the inability to create a harmonious workplace environment. The success of the project is directly affected by the output of every team member in the project. The productivity of individual employees depends on the relationship that they have with their colleagues and superiors. There should be an effective communication system where all stakeholders can share their plans, ideas, and progress in the project. It may require all the organizations involved to embrace a new culture and communication platform that they were not used to previously.
Human resource management plays a critical role in creating such an environment. The HRM manager will have the task of guiding employees to embrace a new practice. They are required to monitor and understand the current environment, discuss and agree on policies that can promote harmony, and work with their subordinates to implement such policies. This paper will help understand challenges that a project may face when it is undertaken by two or more organizations. It will investigate factors that often define the relationship of different stakeholders in a project and the impact that such a relationship may have on the success of the initiative. The study will then discuss the role that human resource management plays in enhancing the inter-organizational relationship in project management. Through this investigation, human resource managers will understand what is expected of them when they have to work as a unit on a large project.
Research Questions, Aim, and Objectives
Defining the aim and objective of the study helps in defining the path that the investigation should take in developing new knowledge in a given field of study. Developing research questions enables a researcher to determine the kind of information that should be gathered from various sources. The following is the primary research question that was used in this study.
What is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management?
The aim of the study was to investigate the role that human resource management plays in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management. The following are the specific objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve through this study:
- To critically evaluate if HRM enhances project management
- To critically evaluate the extent to which inter-organizational relationships enhance project management
- To critically evaluate how useful inter-organizational relationships are in project management
The dissertation has five chapters. The first chapter provides background information to the study and a detailed discussion of the rationale for the investigation. It allows the reader to understand the reason why it was necessary to conduct this study. Research aim, objectives, and question are also outlined in this chapter. The second chapter focuses on a detailed review of the literature. The chapter also provides a conceptual framework to help in explaining the specific goal of the study. The third chapter is the methodology section. It discusses the approach that was used to collect, analyze, and present primary data. Issues of ethical concerns and challenges encountered in the study are also discussed. Chapter four provides a detailed analysis and presentation of data from primary sources. The final chapter is the conclusion of the paper. It also provides various recommendations to future scholars who may want to further knowledge in this field.
The previous chapter has provided a detailed background of the study and the rationale for conducting this investigation. This chapter focuses on reviewing the literature on this topic. As Auschra (2018) observes, project management and human resource management are topics that are widely researched. Reviewing what other scholars have found out is essential in such an investigation. First, it helps the researcher to understand what other scholars have found out in the related studies. Reviewing the literature enables a researcher to avoid duplicating already existing pieces of information. It helps to identify existing knowledge gaps in a given field that still require further investigation (Turner, 2017). This chapter focuses on reviewing the relationships that exist among different companies when they have to undertake a single project because of its size, complexity, or urgency.
The concept of project management has gained relevance both in the public and private sectors. Stakeholders have realized the significance of undertaking these initiatives in a carefully planned manner where all activities have to be completed within a given period using specified resources (Aigbavboa and Thwala, 2020). Project management gained massive popularity because it eliminated ambiguity that existed in the traditional approach of undertaking developmental initiatives. Initially, such tasks would be assigned to a given department and resources made available. It was not easy to estimate the time within which such projects would be completed. Costs would often exceed the initial estimates and waste generation was a common problem (Varoutsa and Scapens, 2018). The introduction of the concept of project management made it possible to eliminate many challenges that existed with the traditional form of implementing projects.
Small simple projects are often undertaken by a single contractor. However, Fernez-Walch (2017) explains that when undertaking mega projects, it may be necessary to involve two or more companies specialized in different tasks. A project may be undertaken by two or more companies because it is complex, demands more human resources, or when there is limited knowledge about it, and as such, involving various teams can help in promoting knowledge sharing (Ahsan, 2018). The development of the Concorde Airplane was an example of a complex project that required the involvement of two companies. The British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) had to join hands with Sud Aviation of France to accomplish the project. The outcome was a masterpiece jet that traveled faster than the speed of sound. It significantly reduced the time that passengers used to travel from one part of the world to another, especially from Europe to the United States. Heathrow expansion is an example of a megaproject that is not only labor-intensive but also requires expertise in different fields (March 2017). Architects have to be responsible for the design, before handing the construction part to a contractor (Vedel and Geraldi, 2020). Security specialists have their role to play in the project as well as the plumbers and electricians among other specialists.
Instead of handing over all activities in such mega projects to one company, many project sponsors and project owners opt to divide the work and then assign different companies specific tasks. The goal of the strategy is to ensure that skills and expertise are perfectly matched with job requirements (Mosey, 2019). The construction of Burj Khalifa in Dubai is an example of a megaproject that had to be undertaken by different companies. In this specific project, the project sponsor decided to source services from different countries around the world based on their expertise. Margalina and Lavín (2020) believe that when a megaproject is to be undertaken, it is advisable to ensure that those assigned specific responsibilities can deliver. This was the case with the construction of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The success of this large project demonstrated that with commitment and proper coordination among different contractors, success can be realized despite the possible challenges that may exist.
Inter-organizational Relationships in Project Management
When a project has to be undertaken by two or more different companies, various challenges may emerge. One of the most common challenges may be in organizational culture. Companies in Japan have a significantly different organizational culture from those in the United States. Boccardelli et al. (2018) explain that in the United States, the culture of the open-door policy of communication has gained massive popularity. It means that although instructions are delivered through established channels of communication, a junior officer can easily contact a senior manager on an issue of concern. This approach to communication eliminates suspicions and makes supervisors and mid-managers more responsible (Pryke, 2017). On the other hand, the majority of Japanese companies still embrace the bureaucratic approach of communication. In such a setting, a junior manager is not expected to communicate directly with the top managers. They have to pass their message through their immediate supervisor who will decide whether to act upon it or pass it over to the next authority. The benefit of this approach of communication is that it eliminates cases where top managers are overwhelmed with constant engagement with junior officers, limiting their capacity to undertake their primary functions. Some of these issues can effectively be addressed by junior managers (Ahiaga-Dagbui et al., 2020). The problem with this approach of communication is that sometimes an important intelligence may be ignored by junior managers. The consequence of such ignorance may sometimes be devastating.
The work ethics in the two countries is also significantly different. In the United States, there is strict adherence to 8 hours of being at work. Employers are required to allow their employees to take overtime when their shift is over (Mashiloane, Mafini, and Pooe, 2018). A significant number of these employees would prefer going home to attend to family issues instead of working for extra hours at additional pay. In Japan, the work culture and ethics are significantly different. Ward (2018) observes that the Japanese are comfortable working for 13 hours or more in a day. Employers in Japan do not have to make any special appeal for these workers to stay longer in the company. It comes out naturally. The fact that the law requires employers to pay workers for additional hours they spend on their duties is just an additional motivation (Perera et al., 2017). Some take as long as six additional hours at work after the primary eight hours (Martinsuoa and Geraldi, 2020). Such a work ethic may not work in the United Kingdom or the United States.
When an American or British company has to undertake a megaproject alongside a Japanese company, the above two cultural differences will emerge. First, there may be a communication breakdown. As Schepman et al. (2018) note, the breakdown in communication may not necessarily mean the language barrier as has been traditionally the case. The issue here is the difference in the approach to passing on information among employees in the two countries. As explained above, the Americans will try to use the open-door policy they are used to while the Japanese will stick to the bureaucratic approach. It may take a while to create a system that is acceptable to both parties. Americans may not easily adapt to the bureaucratic system (Smerek, 2017). Similarly, it may not be easy for the Japanese to embrace the American style of communication. Having a hybrid system may be essential in achieving the desired goal.
The work ethic is another challenge that will emerge when such two entities have to work together. Americans are used to working for eight hours. On the other hand, the Japanese find it normal to work for extra hours. When they have to work on a single project, issues will arise. Those working for extra hours are more likely to complete their assignments ahead of others. Forcing the other team to deliver a similar output within the same period would mean that they also have to work for extra hours. They may feel exploited and frustrated, which may have a negative impact on their productivity (McLarena and Loosemore, 2019). Once again, it is essential to have a hybrid system that both parties find acceptable.
Inter-organizational relationship in project management is equally important at the managerial level. When two or more companies have to work as a unit in a given project, the top managers will have to develop a close working relationship (Worthington and Bodie, 2017). Before starting the work, the managers will be required to develop a plan on how specific tasks will be conducted by different teams. They also have to agree on a working culture and a policy that both entities will find acceptable. Sometimes it may be challenging for these executives to agree on a given formula, especially when each group feels that its approach is the best. However, they have to learn to make concessions and agree on policies and plans for implementing the project.
It was necessary to develop a conceptual framework to understand the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships. The framework helps in understanding the role of human resource management in enhancing inter-organizational relationships. As shown in figure 2.1 below, HRM plays a crucial role in inter-organizational relationships in project management. One of the roles is training. Employees need to be trained on how to work effectively under the new system. They need to learn what is expected of them in their new workplace environment. Culture management is another major role that human resource managers have to play in managing such relationships, especially when many companies are involved. The new team had to learn how to be accommodative and committed to working as a unit (Boubaker, Cumming, and Nguyen, 2018). Engaging employees when making critical policies that affect them is another major responsibility that managers must ignore. When they are effectively engaged, they are more likely to support new ideas than when policies are developed without their knowledge. Regular performance appraisal is another role of human resource managers in such an environment. It helps in identifying and addressing individual employee weaknesses.
When these HRM tasks are taken effectively, specific outcomes are expected (Towey, 2017). One of the expectations is that there will be improved communication among all stakeholders. There will be an understanding of a common communication practice that all stakeholders must embrace. If a hybrid that borrows from the bureaucratic and open-door policy has to be embraced, employees will understand what is expected of them (Fors and Alvinius, 2019). Improved communication enhances the relationship among stakeholders. Everyone will understand their roles in the project and how they are expected to undertake them. The relationship with top managers will also be enhanced when a system is created where necessary engagements can be maintained. The performance of individuals will be improved by effective communication and the positive relationship created. It is also expected that conflicts will be minimized as much as possible. When issues arise, there will be effective channels of addressing them in a timely way.
Figure 2.1. Role of HRM in inter-organizational relationships
The chapter has provided a detailed review of the literature on the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. Many organizations are considering outsourcing two or more contractors when undertaking mega projects. The review shows that when two independent companies have to work on a single project, challenges may arise, especially in the communication approach and organizational culture. It is the responsibility of human resource managers of the different companies to develop a working plan that can easily be acceptable to all those who are involved in the project. Eliminating these barriers makes it easy to complete the project with ease.
The review of literature has provided background information about the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. The following are the key questions that the review of the literature responded to:
- What is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management?
- Is there a relationship between human resource management and project management?
- What is the extent to which inter-organizational relationships enhance successful project management?
- How useful is an inter-organizational relationship in project management?
Methodology and Method
This chapter focuses on providing a detailed explanation of the method that was used to collect and analyze data from primary sources. It starts by discussing the research’s philosophical assumptions, research questions, validity and reliability issues, and data selection and collection method. Also discussed in this chapter are ethical biases and limitations that affected the process of collecting and processing data collected from the sampled respondents.
It was necessary to discuss philosophical assumptions in this study. As Kumar (2019) observes, research philosophy focuses on nature, the sources, and the development of knowledge in a given field. It guides assumptions that a researcher makes when collecting data from a sample of participants. A researcher can use pragmatism, positivism, interpretivism, or realism to guide assumptions in the study. The research aim and questions often guide the process of selecting an appropriate research philosophy. As shown in figure 3.1 below, defining research philosophy is the first step that one has to take before selecting appropriate approaches and strategies for data collection.
Pragmatism was selected as the most appropriate philosophical assumption in this study. According to Ciesielska and Jemielniak (2018), the philosophy holds the view that there exist different ways through which one can interpret realities in the world, and no single criteria or viewpoint can provide an entire picture of the multiply realities that exist. As such, it is important to be flexible enough to embrace different approaches to interpretation. The philosophy holds that a concept can only be considered relevant and acceptable if it supports action (Brandenburg, and McDonough, 2019). One can embrace two or more approaches to interpreting an issue as long as the outcome provides a comprehensive and realistic understanding of the knowledge presented.
The researcher developed research questions to help with the collection of data from sampled respondents. As explained in the section above, the researcher selected pragmatism as the research philosophy, which meant that different approaches could be used to analyze data. A mixed research method was the most effective way of explaining the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. Each question required a unique method of data collection and analysis.
What is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management?
This was the primary question in this study. It was based on the topic of the research and focused on determining the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management. The method that was considered most appropriate for this question was the qualitative method. It was necessary to explain the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management. The question required a detailed explanation of the issue beyond statistical analysis. Using open-ended questions, it was possible to allow respondents to explain in their own words the role that HRM plays to enhance inter-organizational relationships in project management based on their personal experiences.
A large population of employees in different managerial positions could answer this question. However, the researcher opted to use a sample of 20 people. Using a judgmental sampling method, 20 participants were requested to answer this question based on their personal experiences. A questionnaire was used to collect data from the participants. For this specific question, respondents had the liberty to respond using their own words because it was unstructured. The questionnaire was deployed by sending the document directly to the participants. The limitation faced when addressing this question was that participants did not use a similar pattern to answer it. However their response was clear and it was easy to understand their views on the issue,
How does HRM enhance project management?
This research question focused on determining how human resource management enhances project management. This question also required a qualitative method of analysis. This method was considered appropriate because it enabled the researcher to explain the relationship between HRM and project management. Respondents were able to identify ways in which the success of a project could be enhanced by having an effective human resource management system. The study could not be conducted in the entire population, and for that reason, a small sample of 20 participants was used. Sampling was done using a judgmental approach. The document was sent to the participants through their e-mails. A face-to-face interview was considered an effective method of collecting data, but with the current coronavirus pandemic, medical experts have strongly discouraged physical interactions as a way of defeating the virus. The instrument was developed using open-ended questions to address this objective. The document was then emailed to each of the participants. They were advised to fill the questionnaire and email it back. The researcher did not face any major limitations with this question. Participants understood what was asked and responded adequately.
To what extent do inter-organizational relationships enhance project management?
In this section, the researcher was interested in determining the extent to which inter-organizational relationships enhance project management. The method that was most appropriate for this investigation was quantitative approaches. As Mami (2019) explains, quantitative research makes it possible to use statistical tools to analyze the degree to which a given issue affects a phenomenon that is under investigation. The information was relevant to the entire population, but only a sample could be used to provide the information needed. As explained above, a judgmental sampling method was used to identify 20 participants for the study. The questionnaire was considered the most appropriate instrument for collecting data. Unlike in the above two sections, this section required the use of closed-ended (structured) questions. The respondents had to state the degree to which inter-organizational relationships enhance project management. This design of questions helped in ensuring that all questions were answered in a given format that could be corded for statistical analysis. The deployment plan was the same as what has been described in the sections above. The researcher did not encounter any significant limitations when seeking answers to this question. All participants understood what was asked and provided their responses based on the pattern that was recommended.
How useful are inter-organizational relationships in project management?
This particular question focused on determining the usefulness of inter-organizational relationships in project management. Respondents were required to explain express their views on the degree of usefulness of the independent variable on the dependent variable. The quantitative method was selected to help facilitate the analysis. The method was selected because it involves the use of statistics to explain the extent of the relationship. It enabled the researcher to understand the degree to which the success of a project can be influenced by an effective inter-organizational relationship. Just like in the above cases, the question could be answered by a large population, but only a small sample of 20 respondents was involved in the study. The same sampling method, design of the instrument used to collect data, and deployment pattern was the same as has been discussed in the section above. Other than time being a major limitation, the researcher did not encounter any other major challenge in collecting the needed data from the respondents. The participants understood the question and provided appropriate answers based on the pattern provided. It is important to note that a proper explanation was provided to participants on how to answer each question.
Validity, Reliability, and Generability
Validity, reliability, and generability help in determining how the findings of a study can be considered reliable and applicable in different contexts. As Pittard and Sell (2016) observe, validity focuses on determining the appropriateness of tools used to collect information, the process that was taken, and the data. It helps in establishing whether the method was appropriate in answering the research question. In this study, the researcher used a questionnaire because it facilitated the process of collecting data in a harmonious way. Internal validity was checked to ensure that it was capable of collecting the desired data before e-mailing it to the respondents. The researcher used mixed-method research to ensure that there was a comprehensive analysis of the issue under investigation. The validity of the study was also enhanced by selecting a sample that represented the entire population. Using a judgmental sampling method, the researcher made sure that the participants could provide reliable information regarding the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. The method provided an effective way of answering all the research questions.
The researcher was also keen on enhancing reliability in this study. Reliability in a study focuses on the consistency that facilitates the ability to replicate the process used in the investigation and the results (Napitupulu, Fenty, and Kisno, 2019). It involves ensuring that if necessary, the same process used to collect and analyze data can be redone and that in each case, the same results will be obtained. It requires setting a clear approach to conducting the study, explaining every step, and using the same instrument of data collection. In this case, the researcher developed a proposal that explained how the study was to be conducted. It explained how respondents were identified and engaged. The design of the tool that was to collect primary data was also discussed. It is possible to use the same proposal to conduct the same investigation in a similar setting, and the result will be the same.
Generability was another factor that was also taken into consideration when collecting and analyzing primary data. Politano (2017) explains that the goal of every research is to gather information, based on facts, which can be generalized to the entire population to help inform policy. The report can only be useful if it can provide accurate information that is relevant in a given setting. In this case, the study had to provide relevant information to help inform policies of human resource management in inter-organizational projects. To enhance generability, the researcher collected primary data from employees in different industries within the country. The goal was to avoid having data that is biased towards a given industry. The researcher also collected information from employees at different levels of management. There was a need to get views from those who develop policies and individuals responsible for the implementation. The approach made sure that the outcome of the analysis of primary data could be applied in different settings.
Data Selection and Collection
Instrument of Data Collection
The researcher developed a questionnaire to facilitate the process of collecting primary data from the sampled respondents. As Politano, Walton, and Parrish (2018) observe, using a questionnaire helps in standardizing the response format to ensure that all participants answer questions in a given way that can enhance the analysis process. The questionnaire used both closed and open-ended questions to facilitate mixed-method research analysis. Each of the questions used in this document was based on the primary research question and objectives of the study. The internal validity of this instrument was ascertained to ensure that it could help in gathering the needed information.
Data Collection Method
Once the instrument was developed, the next step was to use it in collecting primary data from participants. The researcher could not use face-to-face interviews because of the current global pandemic, and as such, an online survey was considered the best alternative. The researcher identified individuals who were considered capable of providing the needed data. They were contacted through phone calls and social media platforms such as the professional social networking platform LinkedIn. The researcher explained the significance of the study to them and the reasons why they were chosen to participate in the study.
The questionnaire survey instrument is created via the Microsoft Forms software which allows the researcher to create a mixed-method set of questions. The survey set of questions will remain the same for all participants, following a predetermined structure based on specific topics as well as transitioning from close-ended to open-ended questions. Participants will be provided a shareable link via a previously obtained email. Emails will be sent out individually to prevent contact tracing and communication among participants. The email will contain brief but detailed instructions regarding the completion of the survey. The software allows for responses collected from the link to be visible on the researcher’s computer, with responses organized by a question and other means of data analysis.
Upon collection of data from this research, it will be stored securely at all times. Arden University requirements mandate data be stored on a virtual cloud server AU drive which is highly secure and can only be accessed individually by the student with a unique login and password. Data will also be stored on the researcher’s private laptop computer, in a specifically created encrypted folder for this project, that would require a passcode to access. Furthermore, the computer itself is protected by a different strong password. These are not physically written down or shared with anyone. All reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure the security and confidentiality of collected data based on ethics and research regulations, and transparency regarding data management will be ensured with relevant parties.
Once the filled questionnaires were obtained, the next step was to conduct analysis. Data had to be analyzed using a mixed-method research design as explained in the proposal. Quantitative data analysis was conducted using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The coded information was entered into the spreadsheet and the outcome of the analysis was presented using charts and graphs. Some questions required qualitative analysis to provide a proper response. In such cases, the researcher allowed respondents to provide a detailed explanation of various issues in their own words. The mixed-method approach of analyzing primary data enabled the researcher to have a proper understanding of the issue under investigation.
Qualitative analysis will occur via thematic analysis which will allow identifying commonalities and patterns among the responses. Initially, data will be coded based on a developed framework of the research parameters and questions. Broad contexts, concepts, behaviors, or phrases are identified alongside potential identifying characteristics such as age, gender, or professional status. The data is labeled and structured which then contributes to narrowing down specific themes. These are common responses or patterns that answer research questions or present further areas of research. Thematic analysis is organized for presentation and supporting data such as quotes or statistics are used to compile results for the research.
Associated Practical Challenges
It is necessary to acknowledge that some practical challenges were encountered in the process of collecting and analyzing data. The current global pandemic of the coronavirus was a major concern as explained in the limitation section below. During the process of analyzing primary data, one of the major challenges faced was processing very long answers that some of the respondents provided. Open-ended questions required participants to use their own words to address the questions. The approach that they took to respond to each of them was slightly different, and the researcher had to identify emerging themes in each answer to develop new knowledge.
Ethical and Bias
When conducting academic research, it is important to observe ethical requirements. One of the most important ethical considerations that the researcher observed was the protection of the identity of participants. As Pittard and Sell (2016) explain, there are cases where the views of some participants vary significantly from that of the rest of the population. In a society where people are becoming increasingly intolerant to views that conflict with theirs, one may be subjected to verbal or physical attacks because of their radical views. Some may lose their jobs or miss promotion opportunities when their superiors realize that their ideas are radically different from what is believed to be ideal. As such, it was essential to ensure that the identity of all participants was not revealed. Instead of using their names, the researcher assigned each participant codes used to identify them.
Certain data elements collected encompass demographic details such as age, nationality, race, and gender. Although this data is not directly explored in this research, it may be beneficial for future research or further analysis on this project if necessary. This data can be used to explore dimensions of culturally different approaches to project management, changes in generational management, or diversity in HRM practices among other potential topic that is relatable or independent from this study. Protected characteristics will be made confidential alongside the respondent’s name and other identifying details to meet all ethical guidelines.
It was ethically important to contact each of the respondents, explain the relevance of the study, and seek their approval before sending the questionnaires to them. All their concerns were addressed before including them in the sample. The researcher made sure that the project was completed based on the guidelines set by the school. Any form of plagiarism was avoided and the entire project was completed within the time provided. Information from secondary sources was referenced using the Harvard referencing style. The researcher avoided all personal biases in the study. Secondary information was strictly obtained from books and peer-reviewed journals. Primary data was analyzed based on the responses obtained without relying on personal views over the issue.
It is important to note that when conducting this study, the researcher faced some limitations that should be addressed in this section. One of the main limitations faced was the inability to collect primary data through face-to-face interviews. The current COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment where physical interaction of people is highly discouraged because it is the primary way of its spread. Although it would have been more effective to interview participants in a physical interaction platform, the researcher was forced to use online methods as the means of collecting data. It is necessary to note that some participants withdrew from the study. The researcher had to replace those who withdrew from the study.
Results and Discussion
The previous chapter provided a detailed discussion of the method that was used to collect and analyze data. This chapter focuses on the presentation of results obtained from the analysis and discussion of findings. It starts by addressing the response rate of the study to help understand the willingness of those identified to take part in the study to respond to the question. It then provides results as obtained from the analysis of primary data. Results are then discussed in detail, integrating primary and secondary data. The final section is a summary of the information presented in this chapter.
The researcher identified a group of participants who were requested to take part in the process of collecting primary data. It is important to note that the response rate of those who were contacted was generally high, at 90%. Of the first 20 individuals who were contacted, only 2 people failed to fill the questionnaires at the right time and had to be replaced. The replacements answered the questions within a short time and e-mailed back the filled questionnaires. Buffardi, Harvey, and Pasanen (2019) explain that to ensure that the response rate is high it is advisable to maintain communication with participants. The researcher continued communicating with participants through social media platforms and phone calls to help remind them to complete the survey. This strategy also helped to address issues that some of the participants had. The two who withdrew from the study explained that they had urgent commitments that they had not planned for, and as such, could not manage to find time for the study within the period that was provided.
Data obtained from primary sources were analyzed to help understand the views of participants, based on their knowledge and experience, about the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. As was explained in the methodology section, each question was unique and focused on specific issues. As such, mixed-method research was considered the most appropriate design. The research addressed the following questions.
What is the impact of HRM on project management
The first question focused on determining if human resource management enhances project management. The researcher posed the question to respondents. Figure 4.1 below shows their response. It is evident that an overwhelming majority of the respondents (70%) strongly agree with the argument that human resource management strongly enhances project management. Another 15% agree with the same argument. It means that 85% of the participants believe that HRM has a significant influence on project management. They explained that the success of a given project depends on how effective individual employees are managed. The effort that an employee places on a given assignment defines the overall success of the project. The HRM must create an enabling work environment where team members can engage their colleagues and support one another to achieve the desired goal. 5% of the participants stated that they do not understand the impact of HRM on project management. Another 10% had a contrary opinion, stating that they do not believe HRM has a significant impact on project management.
What is the extent to which inter-organizational relationships enhance project management
The question above focused on determining the extent to which inter-organizational relationships enhance project management. During the review of the literature, it became evident that many public and private companies are currently considering assigning different tasks in a project to different companies to enhance efficiency and to reduce the time of completion. One company would be assigned the role of developing the design, while another would be responsible for procurement, while another will be involved in the actual construction. The researcher wanted to determine how inter-organizational relationships would enhance the success of such projects. As shown in figure 4.2 below, 75% of the respondents strongly agree with the argument that inter-organizational relationships enhance project management. Another 15% also agree with the argument. It means that 90% of those who participated in the study believe that the success of a project done by different companies significantly depends on the inter-organizational relationship that is created.
All the teams involved in performing different tasks must learn to work as a single unit. They must know how to engage one another, share relevant information, and provide the necessary support that can help achieve the desired goal. There should be a positive work environment where everyone feels comfortable. When employees from different companies have to work together on a single project, a relationship has to be developed that makes all the parties feel comfortable and accepted. One participant had a contrary opinion, stating that they do not believe inter-organizational relationships enhance project management. Another participant was non-committal, stating that they are not sure about the actual impact of inter-organizational relationships on project management.
How useful inter-organizational relationships in megaprojects’ success
Megaprojects may require the involvement of two or more contractors specialized in different fields. During the review of literature, the development of Concorde and the construction of Burj Khalifa were identified as some of the mega projects that required the involvement of various companies from different countries to achieve specific goals (Heldman, 2018a). It was established that in such projects, a close relationship among the organizations involved was essential in enhancing the success of the entire project. It was necessary to determine if the sampled respondents had a similar view. As shown in figure 4.3 below, an overwhelming majority of the participants (95%) believe that inter-organizational relationships are useful in enhancing the success of megaprojects. When two or more companies have to undertake a major project, they must inculcate a positive relationship. Only one participant stated that they are not sure about the usefulness of inter-organizational relationships in project management.
What is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management?
This was the primary question for this study. The first three questions have confirmed that human resource management is important in enhancing inter-organizational relationships and the overall success of a project. It was necessary to identify specific factors that make HRM essential in such cases. When reviewing the literature, specific factors were identified that explain this issue. It was necessary to compare such findings with information from primary sources. As explained in the methodology section, this question required a qualitative approach to analysis. Respondents were requested to explain their views based on their knowledge and experience.
Participant 4 said, “One of the most important roles of human resource managers in policy formulation. When two or more organizations have to undertake a megaproject as a unit, the HRM managers of the individual companies have to formulate new policies that would guide the process of implementing the plan.”
This participant believes that in such cases, it is always essential for the parties to develop new policies that will guide operations in the project. HRM should be at the forefront in the development of such policies. They understand the expectations and capabilities of their workforce. They have to represent their interests in such programs to ensure that new policies developed are in line with the expectations of their organization. In most cases, they may need to consult their subordinates before committing to a given policy. The goal is to eliminate cases where unrealistic expectations are created, which may eventually overwhelm workers.
Participant 2 explained, “Human resource management is the link between employees of one organization and other stakeholders involved in the project. They have a cardinal responsibility of representing their interests in the project.”
When two or more organizations are assigned the role of completing a given project, they will come with their employees. Each team will have its expectations and it is common to find cases where conflicts of interest emerge. Such conflicts have to e addressed to ensure that they do not negatively affect the working relationship among team members. There should be fairness when addressing such concerns in a project. It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that such issues are managed effectively. Human resource managers of respective companies must ensure that the interests of their employees are taken care of in such forums to avoid cases of dissatisfaction.
Respondent 16 stated, “Human resource management helps in inculcating positive inter-organizational relationships. These managers are expected to develop an effective communication platform that is acceptable to all parties despite the diversity of their background.”
When these organizations come together to work on a given project, one factor that all parties must appreciate is the diversity of their backgrounds. Each organization has its unique approach to communication. Most companies from the west often embrace the concept of an open-door policy where junior employees can easily engage senior managers directly when they have a major concern. On the other hand, the majority of companies from the east still value the bureaucratic approach of communication where information has to flow systematically from one level to the next (Cha and Maytorena-Sanchez, 2019). When such differences exist in a project, human resource managers must find a way of creating a new system where all parties will find acceptable.
Respondent 20 explained, “Creating a new organizational culture is one of the most important roles of human resource managers in inter-organizational relationships. Each of them understands practices that have been common in their respective companies and can help create a new acceptable culture.”
When reviewing the literature, one of the major concerns that were identified when different organizations have to undertake a given project is the difference that exists in organizational culture. Each company has its unique way of undertaking various tasks, reporting their progress, monitoring project activities, correcting existing mistakes, and motivating workers to enhance their performance (Low, 2018). Each group shouldn’t be allowed to operate using their traditions, and neither is it appropriate to force a given culture on a specific group. All the parties must come together and agree on a culture that is a hybrid of all the others. The new culture should be accommodative to everyone involved in the project.
Participant 8 said, “Human resource management has the responsibility of assessing the performance of individual employees and ensuring that they meet expectations.”
In most of these megaprojects, there is always the pressure to ensure that the desired outcome is delivered at the right time and using the predetermined budget. As such, issues of delays, underperformance, and wastage cannot be tolerated. When tasks have been assigned to different teams, it is the role of HRM to assess the performance of the employees in these teams. They have to ensure that they are working as per the expectations set. If they have any issue that affects their performance, the HRM must find ways of addressing them.
The analysis of primary data and review of the literature shows that human resource management has a critical role to play in inter-organizational relationships in project management. Lee et al. (2018) explain when two or more companies have to work on a single megaproject, they have to put in place measures that can help them work as a unit. Communication and cultural differences are some of the major concerns that should not be ignored in such a setting. According to Lu, Wei, and Wang (2020), a successful inter-organizational relationship involves creating a system where employees of different organizations can work freely together on a given task without facing cultural hindrances. Kim (2017) advises that human resource managers must understand their role in creating an enabling environment for all in such a diverse workplace environment. They have to create a platform where concerns of junior subordinates are addressed promptly (Oakland and Marosszeky, 2017). The goal should be to improve efficiency and minimize conflicts as much as possible.
Lean project management is a concept that is rapidly gaining popularity in the global society. According to Hedborg, Eriksson, and Gustavsson (2020), a section of society has come to associate lean project management with the concept of engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). This concept emphasizes the need to assign all project activities, from design to procurement and construction, to a single company. It is seen as the best way of addressing issues of communication and cultural differences when a project is assigned to different companies (Guangdong, 2018). It also eliminates instances where one company blames another when mistakes arise. The fact that one company is responsible for all the activities means that there will always be a smooth transition from one task to another in the project (Kreye and Perunovic, 2020). It is important to note that EPC goes against the concept of inter-organizational relationships in project management. Unlike in EPC, this other approach emphasizes the need to allow various organizations to participate in project implementation based on their expertise.
It is necessary to ensure that lean operations can be achieved even when two or more organizations have to work on one megaproject. This approach makes it easy to enhance lean operations because tasks are assigned to those with the best skills (Heldman, 2018b). The problem only arises when it becomes difficult to create a working relationship among the different companies involved. The department of human resource management has a critical role in ensuring that such a relationship is created (Pettey, Bracken, and Pask, 2017). They have to understand the differences in culture and communication systems that exist among the different stakeholders. They should then develop a new and accommodative system through active consultation (Phillips, Lamming, and Caldwell, 2019). They then have to inform all team members about the new system and train them on how to work effectively under such a system.
This chapter has presented results from the analysis of primary data collected from participants. Data were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. It is evident from the above analysis that human resource management plays a crucial role in inter-organizational relationships in project management. When a megaproject is to be undertaken by two or more companies, issues such as communication breakdown and culture shock may arise. Human resource managers have the responsibility of addressing such concerns. They also have to work as a unit and create an environment where all stakeholders will find sustainability. These steps help in enhancing the overall success of a project.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The previous chapter provided a detailed analysis of primary data collected from a sample of respondents. This chapter provides a summary of findings made from both primary and secondary sources. It provides a general conclusion based on the data reviews. The chapter also discusses the response obtained from individual research questions in the study. Based on that information, a list of recommendations is provided that can help stakeholders to improve human resource management practices in inter-organizational relationships in project management. Errors and limitations that the researcher faced when collecting and analyzing primary data are also addressed. The chapter ends by providing recommendations to future scholars who may be interested in conducting further investigation in this field.
Project management and human resource management are widely researched topics because of their relevance in modern society. In this study, the focus was to investigate the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management. The investigation revealed that it is becoming a common practice for megaprojects to be undertaken by two or more organizations. It helps in ensuring that tasks are assigned based on the specialization of an organization. However, it is important to note that this approach to undertaking a project presents some challenges. Ensuring that employees from different organizations can work harmoniously in a given project is a challenge. Each organization has its unique communication system and a culture that varies from others. Such differences are greater when companies are from different countries. Work ethics and communication pattern in the United States or the United Kingdom is significantly different from those in Japan or China. When two or more companies from these different countries have to work together on a large project, finding a way of ensuring that there is harmony among workers is one of the greatest challenges.
The study shows that human resource managers have a major role to play in addressing such challenges to ensure that the implementation of such projects does not face major challenges. The analysis of primary data and information obtained from secondary sources show that one of the initial steps that human resource managers have to take in such circumstances is to create a common communication pattern. There has to be a standard approach to communication among all those involved in the project. When an acceptable communication pattern has been established, they have to develop a common culture that would guide the actions of all the stakeholders involved in the project. The findings of the study strongly suggest that such a new culture should be a hybrid of cultures of all the organizations involved in the project.
When culture and a communication approach have been developed, human resource managers have the responsibility of communicating the same to their employees. Each company will have the responsibility of ensuring that their employees understand what is expected of them in the new workplace environment. They have to know how to communicate with their superiors and address the challenges that they face. They also have to know how to undertake their specific responsibilities and request assistance from superiors. Human resource managers should also be ready to deal with challenges that may arise among their employees. They should represent the interest of their subordinates when they are having meetings meant to develop new policies.
Research Question Conclusion
Understanding the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management required an effective collection of data from both primary and secondary sources. Having properly developed questions helped in the process of collecting that data. The following are the questions that were used to collect data from both primary and secondary sources:
- What is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organizational relationships in project management?
- How does HRM enhance project management?
- To what extent do inter-organizational relationships enhance project management?
- How useful are inter-organizational relationships in project management?
Human resource management plays a critical role in inter-organizational relationships in project management as shown in the analysis and discussion of primary and secondary data. It is clear that when two or more companies come together to undertake a given project, they have to develop a working relationship that all stakeholders find sustainable. It is important to embrace the following recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of HRM in inter-organizational relationships in project management:
- When two or more organizations have to work as a unit in a given project, project managers should start by developing an acceptable communication system that both parties find acceptable. The new system should be based on a hybrid of systems that the two or more organizations were using before. The interest of all stakeholders involved should be considered when developing the new system.
- The top managers of the two or more organizations should agree on the acceptable organizational culture that stakeholders have to embrace in the new project when undertaking a megaproject. It is highly advisable to develop a new culture that reflects the goal of the project based on the unique characteristics of the human resources involved.
- When a new culture and a communication system have been developed, it is the responsibility of human resource management to ensure that the information is communicated to the junior employees effectively. They should know why a policy has been adopted, compromises that had to be made because of the differences that existed, and benefits that will be enjoyed by all stakeholders.
- Human resource managers have an important role in ensuring that junior employees are adequately engaged when developing new policies. As shown in the discussion above, when employees are effectively involved, they are likely to support a given policy because they will feel they own it. It is recommended that every time a major change needs to be introduced in a project, HRM managers in all the companies involved in the implementation of new strategies should engage their employees from the early stages of policy development.
- It is recommended that there should be a central command unit when a megaproject has to be undertaken by two or more companies. Instructions should be coming from one office to avoid cases of miscommunications and unnecessary conflicts. It is the responsibility of human resource management to understand project requirements, as explained by the central authority, determine the role that their employees will play, issue proper instruction to them, and supervise them to ensure that they are working as per the specifications of the project.
Errors and Limitations
It is important to discuss errors and limitations that were encountered in this study at this stage of the report. One of the errors that the researcher made was the anticipation of collecting data through a face-to-face interview. Having decided on a manageable sample of 20 people, the researcher was keen on meeting them physically to interview them. However, it became apparent that movement and physical interaction restrictions proposed to help fight the coronavirus made it impossible to have such meetings. The researcher had to adjust the method of collecting data to reflect what was possible during such times, which was an online survey. Another error that was made was to send the questionnaire to respondents without a proper guide on how they needed to respond to the questions during the pilot study. However, the mistake was noted at this pre-test stage and adequately addressed when the documents were finally sent to participants.
The study faced limitations that had to be addressed to ensure that the outcome of the study was not compromised. One of the major limitations of this study was that movement was limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researcher wanted to visit the library to have access to certain books and articles that would inform the study. However, that was not possible as the government continues to discourage social gatherings. The researcher had to rely on materials available in various online databases. It became necessary to subscribe to some of these online platforms to have access to the information needed. The participants had to be contacted through their phones or using social media platforms because of the same challenge.
The role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management is a topic that is relevant in different contexts within the country and abroad. However, it was not possible to collect data from foreign nationals to determine their views and experiences over the issue. Primary data collection was limited to the borders of the country. It means that when applying the information to other countries with a significantly different socio-political and economic environment, caution is advised. The researcher made an effort to overcome this limitation by collecting secondary data from different countries. Most of the books used in this study were published in North America, parts of Europe, and Asia, especially in India and Japan. The strategy helped in ensuring that findings made could be generalized to a wider setting.
Recommendations for Further Studies
Project management and human resource management continue to be sensitive topics, which are likely to attract the attention of many scholars around the world. Some academic researchers may likely be interested in providing further knowledge about the role of human resource management in project management. The researcher considered it necessary to provide them with a guideline, based on findings made in this study, which they can use to conduct their project. The following are the recommendations that future scholars should consider:
- Lean project management is another field of knowledge that is increasingly becoming relevant in modern society. Future scholars must investigate how human resource management can facilitate lean operations when two or more companies have to undertake a megaproject. Issues that may limit lean operations should be outlined and their potential solution discussed.
- Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) management is another related topic but takes a complete approach to manage megaprojects. Instead of assigning different tasks to different companies, EPC requires that only one contractor should be assigned to the project. The contractor will be responsible for all the tasks, from design, sourcing for materials, and the actual construction. It is considered one of the best approaches to promoting lean operations. The researcher recommends that future scholars should conduct a comparative analysis of EPC and the approach of involving many companies. They should assess which of the two strategies lowers cost, improves efficiency, and enhances the completion of projects within the right time.
- Culture is still a major cause of concern when two or more companies from different countries have to work together on a given topic. In the review of the literature, these challenges were outlined and their negative impact was briefly discussed. The researcher recommends a detailed analysis of these culture-related problems and how they can be addressed. Future scholars should investigate how such companies can identify cultural differences and manage them effectively to enhance the success of such projects.
- The outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing the perception that people have towards project management. The idea of working from home is becoming increasingly relevant. However, some tasks in project management require the physical presence of those who are involved. The researcher recommends that future scholars should review how this pandemic has redefined project management, especially when it comes to managing human resources. Of interest will be to determine if some tasks can be completed without employees having to leave their home country offices.
- In the methodology section, the researcher explained that it was not possible to collect data through face-to-face interviews because of the current problem of the COVID-19 pandemic. Believing that the problem will be managed soon, the researcher recommends that future scholars should consider conducting physical interviews with larger samples to have a better understanding of issues related to the role of human resource management in inter-organisational relationships in project management.
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Appendix 1: Questionnaire
This study is meant to investigate the role that human resource management plays in inter-organizational relationships in project management. Your participation is highly valued because it will help in obtaining critical information to support data obtained from secondary sources. Kindly answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Follow the guideline provided for each question. In some cases, you will need to choose from the multiple choices provided while in other cases you will need to provide a detailed explanation using your own words.
Section 1: Personal Details
- What is your age? (Tick as appropriate)
- Over 55
- What is your gender (Tick as appropriate)
- What is your nationality? (Tick as appropriate)
Section 2: Academic Background and Experience
- What is your highest academic achievement (Tick as appropriate)
- High school
- Bachelor’s degree
- Master’s degree
- Doctorate degree
- How long have you been working for your current organization? (Tick as appropriate)
- Less than 2 years
- 2-5 years
- 6-10 years
- 11-15 years
- Over 15 years
- What is your current management position in this organization? (Tick as appropriate)
- Non-management position
- Junior management position
- Mid-management position
- Senior management position
- Have you been involved in project management?
- If your answer to question 7 is yes, what role have you played in project management?
- Policy implementation
- Supervisory role
Section 3: The Role of HRM of Inter-Organizational Relationships in Project Management
- Do you believe that human resource management enhances project management? (Tick as appropriate)
- Strongly agree
- Not sure
- Strongly disagree
- If your answer to the above question is to the affirmative, what is the role of HRM in enhancing inter-organisational relationships in project management? (Kindly provide a short explanation)________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Is there a relationship between human resource management and project management? (Kindly explain)___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you believe that inter-organizational relationships enhance project management?
- Strongly agree
- Not sure
- Strongly disagree
- What is the extent to which inter-organisational relationships enhance success project management? (Tick as appropriate)
- Highly influence
- Not sure
- Somehow influences
- Does not have any significant influence
- How useful is an inter-organisational relationship in project management? (Tick as appropriate)________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you believe there is proper knowledge about the role of human resource management in inter-organizational relationships in project management within your organization? (Kindly explains)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What are the challenges that exist in inter-organizational relationships in project management (Kindly state and explain the challenges)_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Thank you very much for having participated in this academic project. I would like to reassure you that the information collected from this process will strictly be used for academic purposes. Your identity will also be protected even though the topic is neither emotive nor controversial.
Appendix 2: Research Informed Consent Form
The Role of HRM of Inter-Organisational Relationships in Project Management
I am conducting a study about the role of human resource management on inter-organizational relationships in project management. Studies have shown that cases, where megaprojects are undertaken by two or more companies, are becoming common not only within the countries but also in the international community. When independent firms are assigned to work on a single project, cases of communication breakdown may result in differences that can jeopardize the success. Secondary data shows that such challenges can be addressed through effective human resource management. Primary data collection and analysis can help verify or refute such claims. You will play an important role in this study by providing your views on this issue based on your knowledge and experience. You will be participating in this academic project voluntarily. It means that you can decide to withdraw from the study at any stage if personal or professional issues arise. Information obtained from you is specifically for academic purposes. Kindly answer the few questions below:
- Do you agree to take part in this study?
- Do you understand that your participation is voluntary and that you can withdraw from it at any time and without any consequence?
- Do you understand that information that will be provided shall not be shared by third parties other than the supervisor?
- Do you understand that your identity will be protected from any third parties?
- Do you have any specific question(s) that you would want to be addressed before you participate in this study?
- If you have any questions or concerns, kindly state them so that they can be addressed._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Thank you very much for your time.