Professor Ralf Müller at BI Norwegian Business School wins an international research award for a research program on Project Management.

KNOWLEDGE @ BI: IPMA Research Award 2012

The 2012 Research Award by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) was given to Professor Monique Aubry and Professor Brian Hobbs, both University of Quebec in Montreal,  and Professor Ralf Müller, BI Norwegian Business School for the research project “The Project Management Office and its contribution to Organisational Performance”.

Project Management Offices (PMOs) became very popular during the last decade. Some companies have one or two of these organizations, others several hundreds. What do PMOs do? Why are they created? How do they develop?

This research program looked at these questions through a series of research projects, starting in 2003 and still going on today, with the aim of understanding PMOs from an organization theory perspective, that is, as an organizational phenomenon.

Better performance

PMOs are known as organizations to ensure good project results. However, each organization has their particular implementation of PMOs, with differences in charter, tasks, roles, and responsibilities. Moreover, these implementations are not stable.

About 50% of all PMOs are closed within the first two years of existence, the rest changes constantly in terms of their charter, role, and authority in the organization.

Some of them start very operational by consulting project managers in best practices to manage their projects and then become more strategic over time by coordinating and managing portfolios of projects or delivering training programs for the community of project managers. Others develop the other way around.

Changing to improve

PMOs change continuously in order to improve organizational performance. They typically address one performance issue at a time and then change (or transform) to address another issue. These issues can be categorized into those of:

  1. Project portfolio management and project management methods
  2. Issues of collaboration and accountability in the organization
  3. External issues like changes in the company’s market, or
  4. Issues related to work climate.

Flexible units

Each of these issues needs to be addressed differently, with different tasks, authorities and roles. Therefore PMOs are in constant change.

Recent years also showed he emergence of networks in the range from two to several hundred PMOs. Within these networks PMOs distribute three major roles among them, those of controlling the execution of projects and their management, of serving parts of the organization as project management consultant, and of partnering in governing the knowledge management across projects and organizational entities.

PMOs are flexible units that address and solve companies’ weaknesses in delivering successful projects. Their transformation improves companies’ results.

The research program resulted so far in more than 80 publications, including five books and many academic journal papers, conference papers and presentations.


IPMA Research Award Winners 2012 Announced. Press release from the International Project Management Association (IPMA).

Publications IPMA Research Award 2012.



You can also see all news here.
BI Business Review


Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest news from BI Business Review.

sign up