Sie sind auf Seite 1von 6

See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.


Evaluating the Role of Project Management on Sustainable Development

Article · May 2017


0 128

1 author:

Lucas Elumah
Olabisi Onabanjo University


Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:

Article View project

Performance of mutual funds in Nigeria View project

All content following this page was uploaded by Lucas Elumah on 25 June 2017.

The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.

Available online at
Pakistan Research
Journal of
J Pak Res Man Sci 2017;1(1):64-69

Evaluating the Role of Project Management on Sustainable

Shobayo Peter B1*, Elumah Lucas O2
1. Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.
2. Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.
Received 12 May 2017; Accepted 22 May 2017; Published 30 Jun 2017


Sustainable development is an important challenge currently facing the economy. It deals with how to develop the economy
without jeopardizing the life of future generations. Organizations have incorporated the concept of sustainability in their overall
organizational structures. In recent times the concept of sustainable development has been associated with project management;
Projects are seen as a mechanism of change both within an organization, and the economy at large, and this mechanism play a
crucial role in achieving both sustainable business process and practices. Thus, project managers are seen as change agents who
play important role on the sustainability of an organization. However, the standard of project management in Nigeria have failed
to realize the crucial role project managers play in ensuring sustainable development, and the project managers as well lack the
capability to achieve sustainability in their project. This study aims to identify the role of project management in ensuring
sustainable development. The study further aims to make specific recommendations on developing the standards of the project
management capabilities so as to prepare the project managers for the crucial role of achieving sustainable development in an
organization and the economy at large.

Keywords: Sustainable development, Project Management, Project Manager, Sustainability, Capabilities.

pillars in all cases, and whether this will bring about a

1. Introduction non-realizable situation. Project managers need to take
into cognizance the scope of sustainable development
A key notion of sustainable development entails the within their projects, and whether this scope is limited
integration and harmonization of the social, to project deliverables or whether it comprises of more
environmental and economic wellbeing both in the than the deliverables as well as whether the project
short term and in the long term. The combination of relates with the organization within which it takes
these three variables can also be seen as the “Triple place. There has been recent connection of project
Bottom Line” which includes People (social), Planet management with sustainable development (Gareis,
(environmental) and Profit (economical) (Elkington, Heumann & Martinuzzi, 2009; 2011; Silvius, Brink &
1999). A change in sustainable development entails the Köhler, 2009; 2010). Sustainable development in
changes in the three pillars of the triple bottom line. principle can be seen as “a process of change in which
There exists however the argument on whether an equal the exploitation of resources, the direction of
amount of attention should be given to each of the three investments, the orientation of technological

Shobayo et al.

development; and institutional change are all in project managers in the context of this paper is
harmony and enhance both current and future potential specifically essential in the trend growing towards
to meet human needs and aspirations” (UN, 1987). In „projectification‟ (the reorganization of tasks and
recent years, an increasing number of interests have activities) in which puts the project managers in a
emerged on the study of sustainable development in the noticeable economic and societal position.
field of academic research as well as an area of practice This research is timely as it focuses on the important
(Shrivastava, 1995; Van Berkel, 2010; UNCTAD, role of project managers in sustainable development, as
2014). According to Silvius et al (2010), there is no well as addresses key research areas which include
recognition yet on the effect of sustainable inclusiveness, innovativeness and reflective societies
development. The manner, in which projects are through examining the way in which the well-being of
managed, measured and reported do not really reveal the society can be generated and sustained overtime.
the various aspects which sustainable development can This research looks to contribute to the understanding
be achieved. The concept of sustainable development of professionals in the context project managers in the
according to Alzami (2010) describes it as each development of a sustainable society. Thus, this
individual seeking to do their part in building the kind research emphasizes on the contribution of project
of world both economically, environmentally and management to sustainable development through
socially they want to live in, and which they want their adoption, adaptation, and the rejection of sustainability
children and grandchildren to inherit. This ensures that principles and practices.
there is awareness of the interconnectedness which is
both visible and invisible and that which the everyday 2. Literature Review
choices affects the complex balancing of the social,
economic and environmental systems. The definition of
a project according to OGC (2002) can be defined from Project managers are vital instrument in the
two angles; first is the management environment which achievement of strategic objectives, because they are
is created to deliver one or more business products important in the execution and implementation of the
according to a specific business case. Secondly it can objectives. The project manager is responsible for
be defined as a temporary organization that is used to identifying and analyzing issues and situations which
produce a unique and pre-defined outcome at a pre- are socially relevant and are not within the knowledge
specified time using pre-determined resources. of the top management. Issues which include the
With an emphasis on the macro level sustainable inconsistencies that exist between the minimum
development issues by past research (climate change, required law and what is suitable for the society, and
and consumption of natural resources), there has been others which can be ranked in the same manner as other
few attention on the micro-level and more practical area project risks either in term of probability or in term of
of sustainable development. For instance less attention impact (Russel, 2008). According to Russel, analyzing
has been given to the role of professional and sustainable development from the social perspective is
knowledge workers who acts as major mediators in tantamount with other project risks.According to
developing a sustainable economy and society. This Silvius et al (2010), there is the general belief that
paper contributes to the current research direction by sustainable development in project management
investigating the role of Project Management (PM) in concerns the integration of the economic,
sustainable development. This research focuses on the environmental and the social perspective, and that the
role of project management in building sustainable sustainable development that can be discovered in a
development. This is imperative because the project should be measured on the level of the project,
professionals involved in project management which the end result of the project as well as the overall effect
include the project managers have the necessary of the project. The researchers defined sustainable
technical skills, the competencies as well as the project management with the combination of the
knowledge needed to effectively implement the elements of the triple- P of sustainable development
sustainability creativity. In the way that the accountants and the life cycle view. According to them, sustainable
engages in developing sustainability reporting tools, the project management can be defined as the management
engineers engage in the development of sustainable of project oriented change in policies, assets or
„green‟ technologies, so as well does the project organizations, with a concern on the economic, social
managers are responsible in developing and and environmental effect of the project and its end
transmitting the sustainable practices. The role of result for the present and the future generations.
Shobayo et al.

In the research of Taylor (2008), the researcher project and in the process of delivering the project in
argued that the idea of sustainable development should project management. According to the researcher, he
be incorporated in every stage of the project life cycle. identified six concepts in project management which
According to Grevelman & Kluiwstra (2009), there is are pertinent integrating aspects of sustainability and
still little focus on the alliance between sustainable achieving sustainable development, and they include;
development and project management. Their research project objectives; project scope and schedule; project
indicates that no attention is given to sustainable resources, cost, income, and risk; project organization;
development within the project management process; it project context; and project design in the management
however showed that some emphasis was placed on process. It was further argued by the researcher that
sustainable development within the project little research has been carried out on the
deliverables. The researchers also indicate that although responsibilities of the different participants as regards
there seems to be a wide spread awareness on the project and programs needed for the implementation
sustainable development, the relationship which defines of sustainable development. However, a combination of
the sustainable development process and methodology the governance model for projects and programs as well
involved for project management is still lacking. as the six principles of sustainability which include the
According to Labuschagne & Brent (2006), it was holistic approach; long term view; large scale; risk and
revealed that projects are the catalyst in which uncertainty reduction; values and ethics; and
sustainable development in the corporate level which is participation could serve as responsibility for some of
the strategic, methodological and operational can be the key players involved.
achieved, and it is the responsibility of business to the An increase in the economic activities which are
society to be actively involved in the sustainable arena. based on projects allows the projects to be more
Furthermore, it was argued by the researchers that the sustainable, thus bringing about a more sustainable
existing project management framework have failed to economy and society. Consequently, there is a rising
effectively incorporate the goals of sustainable argument among researchers on the issue of sustainable
development (social equity, economic efficiency and projects. As a way to achieve sustainable projects, the
environmental performance). This argument was project managers have developed quite a number of
further supported by Silvius et al. (2010) who new methods, tools, and techniques which focus on
discovered that sustainable development is a big achieving sustainable development. A look from the
mission in majority of the project management theoretical perspective indicates that the importance of
guidelines. The researchers highlighted three germane project managers is not only limited to the functional
reasons for the inclusion of sustainable development on roles which they perform, but also includes the broader
the project managers agenda, first of which is that institutional role which are performed by professional
investment in the projects which are set to incorporate in achieving radical changes. This is germane because
sustainable development have tendency to be less prone achieving sustainable development may involve a
to financial crises than those that do not incorporate challenging assumption and practice which extremely
sustainable development. Secondly is that organizations exists in creating new organizational model as well as
that have a strong sustainability image have a higher working arrangements. Developing a sustainable
value than organizations with weaker sustainability economy and society through projects is not an entirely
image, and finally, is that public organizations are technical matter, but one which encompasses
looking to integrate standards of sustainable institutional change (Scott, 2008).
development in their procurement policies, thus
inspiring other organizations to look and take active 2.1. Sustainable Development Concept
part on this area. The research of Turner (2010) looks at
project management and sustainable development from Sustainable development can generally be defined as
a different approach. The researcher did not consider the development which meets the needs of the present
the business at large, but rather looked at the without comprising the ability of future generations to
anonymous group and all the roles of project meet their own needs (Brundtland Report, 1987).
governance. The researcher studied the responsibilities Additionally, numerous definitions of sustainable
of the key players on projects and programs as well as development can be adopted. These definitions serve as
their role in the implementation of sustainable compliment in understanding the sustainable
initiatives, and then argued that sustainable development objectives better. First of these definition
development can be achieved both in the product of the can be seen as the improvement of human life while
Shobayo et al.

living within the carrying capacity of supporting recent years, some conclusions can be derived (Silvius
ecosystems. It can further be seen as the development et al., 2012).
which delivers the basic environmental, social and
economic services to all the residence of a community 2.3. Sustainable Development and Project Management
without threatening the viability of natural and social
systems upon which the delivery of those systems There are various bases for the study of the
depends. The focus of early research was on economic integration of sustainable development. The first among
development, but more recently, human development which focus on recognizing that the present ways in
has been focused on with attention on the increased life which the earth‟s natural resources are exploited are not
expectancy, education, equity, and opportunity. The sustainable. This rationally brings to the conclusion that
definition of sustainable development also suggest there need to be a change in the way in which things are
integrating that which is to be sustained as well as that done as well as the things which are done. There need
which is to be developed. However, there are variances to be a change in the use of resources, the way in which
in the limits of “sustain only” and develop mostly”. The products are produced, and ways in which wealth are
period of time concerned as well differ from what was shared. These changes are inevitably inseparable from
described in the standard definition as “now and in the innovation and projects. Thus, sustainable development
future” (Kates, Parris & Leiserowitz, 2005). requires projects in order to comprehend the changes
required. The second bases concentrate on the change
2.2. The Role of Projects in Sustainable Development has been connected with the strategies of the companies
and other organizations. Organizations seek to achieve
The Brundtland report (1987) shows a sustainable sustainable development, and this affects the type of
development can be related to change by stating that “in project they embark on, as well as the ways and
essence, sustainable development is a process of change methods in which the projects are executed. The third
in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of bases for the study of the integration of sustainable
investments, the orientation of technological development is concerned with project management
development and institutional change are all in have been developing into a true profession and with
harmony and enhance both current and future potential this come a professional responsibility. There should
to meet human needs and aspirations” (World thus be a high level of responsibility taken by project
Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). managers in integrating sustainable development into
This change and intervention perspective in projects their work.
was also recognized by Winter & Szczepanek (2009).
Projects can be considered in this viewpoint as 3. Methodology
temporary organizations which provide change to
organizations, products, services, business processes,
policies and assets (Lundin & Söderholm, 1995; Turner This paper is centered on the literature study. The
& Müller, 2003; Silvius, Schipper, Planko, Van den research looks to contribute to the discussion on the
Brink & Köhler, 2012). These projects can be described role of project management on sustainable development
by; a temporary nature or temporary organization; most within the project management processes. This paper is
often across organizational structures and boundaries; a based on the analysis of past literature and standards
defined deliverable or result, logically or preferably due to the emerging field of the relationship between
connected to the organizational strategy or goals; and project management and sustainable development. Thus
finally specified resources and budget. Explaining the the nature of this study should be considered as
assessment of projects a tool of change and conceptual and interpretive.
intervention, it can be observed that a sustainable
society needs project to achieve change. It was however
observed by Gareis et al (2009) that there is little 4. Conclusion
consideration on sustainable development in temporary
organizations such as projects and programs. This paper takes an in-depth investigation on project
Consequently, it was concluded by Silvius & Tharp management and sustainable development. This is
(2013) that there is momentum in the relationship necessary because of the understanding that project
between sustainability and project management over management requires change, and thus the required
the years, and that from the published researches in changes can be effected and organized in projects.
Shobayo et al.

Hence the project manager serves as an essential Publishing, Hershey.

change agent in ensuring that more sustainable business Silvius, A. J. G., Brink, J. V., and Köhler, A. (2009). Views on
process and practices are achieved. It is therefore Sustainable Project Management, in Kähköhnen, K., Kazi,
concluded that project manager have a significant A. and Rekola, M. (Eds.), Human Side of Projects in
influence in the implementation of sustainable Modern Business, 545- 556, IPMA Scientific Research
development in the project they embark on as well as Paper Series, Helsinki, Finland.
the project management process. This influence can Silvius, A. J. G., Brink, J. V., and Köhler, A. (2010). The Impact of
however be regarded as medium for both the holistic Sustainability on Project Management. Asia
approach as well as in the long term. Pacific Research Conference on Project Management
(APRPM), Melbourne.
Silvius, A. J. G., Schipper, R., Planko, J., Van den Brink, J., and
References Köhler, A. (2012). Sustainability in Project
Management. Gower Publishing.
Turner, J. R., and Müller, R. (2003). On the Nature of the Project as a
Alzamil, R. K. (2010). How project managers increase the Temporary Organization. International Journal of Project
sustainability of their projects. Proceedings of IPMA Management, 21: 1-8.
Expert Seminar February 2010, Zurich, Switzerland. Turner, R. (2010). Responsibilities for Sustainable Development in
Elkington, J. (1999). Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line Project and Program Management. Proceedings of IPMA
of the 21st Century Business. Wiley and Sons Ltd., Expert Seminar February 2010, Zurich, Switzerland.
West Sussex, United Kingdom. UNCTAD (2014). Best Practice Guidance for Policymakers and
Gareis, R., Heumann, M., and Martinuzzi, A. (2009). Relating Stock Exchanges on Sustainability Reporting Initiatives.
Sustainable Development and Project Management. Geneva.Retrieved from
IRNOP 9, Berlin.
Gareis, R., Huemann, M., and Martinuzzi, A. (2011). What can .pdf.
project management learn from considering Van Berkel, R. (2010). Quantifying Sustainability Benefits of
ustainability principles? Project Perspectives, 33: 60–65. Industrial Symbioses. Journal of Industrial Ecology,
Grevelman, L., and Kluiwstra, M. (2009). Sustainability in Project 14(3): 371–373.
Management, A case study on Enexis. Thesis, Winter, M., and Szczepanek, T. (2009). Images of Projects. Gower
International MSc Real Estate Management at the Publishing.Development Journal,Vol 21, pp 157-161.
University of Greenwich (United Kingdom), in World Commission on Environment and Development, (1987). Our
collaboration with Saxion University of Applied Sciences Common Future. The Brundtland Report, UN, World
Deventer (the Netherlands). Commission on Environment and Development.
Kates, R., Parris, T., and Leiserowitz, A. (2005). What is sustainable
developement? Goals, Indicators, Values and Practice.
Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable
Development, 47(3): 8-21.
Lundin, R. A., and Söderholm, A. (1995). A Theory of the Temporary
Organization. Scandinavian Journal of
Management, 11: 437-455.
Office of Government Commerce (OGC) (2002). Prince2. The
Stationary Office, London, United Kingdom.
Russel, J. (2008). Corporate Social Responsibility: What it means for
the Project Manager. Proceedings of PMI Europe
Congress, Malta, Philadelphia, PA: Project Management
Scott, W. R. (2008). Lords of the Dance: Professionals as Institutional
Agents. Organization Studies, 29(2): 219–238.
Shrivastava, P. (1995). The role of corporations in achieving
ecological sustainability. Academy of
Management Review, 20(4): 936–960.
Silvius, A. J. G., and Tharp, J. (2013). Sustainability Integration for
Effective Project Management. IGI Global

View publication stats