Last year in the International Journal of Project Management, Julien Pollack and Daniel Adler reported on 50 years of PM research trends to distill where the industry has come from, and where it’s going. Their report acknowledges passing fads as well as those that have withstood the test of time.
When Pollack and Adler set out to examine the evolution of project management, they knew that a standard literature review wouldn’t do. They wanted to check out everything, so they sourced 94,472 unique records of PM research (published between 1962 and 2012) from the Scopus and ISI Web of Science databases.
The keywords and abstracts that authors used to describe their work were analyzed in terms of word frequency, rate of change and the co-occurrence of keywords and abstract terms. Comparisons were made between the frequencies of key terms and rapid changes in the ways that terms were used in the literature to identify emergent trends.
Long-Term, Overall Transformation from Siloed to Holistic
First and foremost, the research indicated a change in emphasis in project management research from a technical engineering orientation to one which encompasses a broader organizational perspective.
Also, recent bursts of keywords related to environmental issues, strategic planning, project managers, knowledge management, business and innovation suggest a movement from technical and industry-specific issues to an emphasis on the interpersonal aspects of project management and the role of the field in the broader organizational context.
Education and Financial Investment Dominate the Early 00s
Use of keywords related to education enjoyed a period of popularity from 1999 to 2005. This may be attributed to the growth of project management professional associations, the increasing significance of certifications as a route to employment, and the widespread increase in university education focused on developing the capabilities of project managers. Also in the first few years of this century, keywords related to cost, contracts and investment were popular from 2001 to 2006.
Interestingly, keywords related to cost and contract management were more strongly associated with the construction industry than the IT industry, while issues associated with education were more strongly associated with IT than construction.
For more where this came from, check out the full post at the Intuit Fast Track blog.