25 Years of Projectification Research



By Arvi Kuura

University of Tartu
Pärnu College

Pärnu, Estonia




This paper marks the 25 years of projectification research. This research stream originated in 1995 from Midler’s seminal work in a special issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Management. During this time, projectification has been ongoing (and seemingly accelerating) process; it has deserved increasing interest, and the research field has significantly evolved. This paper scrutinizes the developments in projectification research, focusing on emerged and emerging trends and streams. Using a loosely structured combination of historical and content analysis, it intends to fix their initial source(s) and/or roots, the latest developments and the current ‘end state’. Also, it pays attention to so far less covered aspects, both positive and negative implications of projectification, as well as possible over-projectification.

This study revealed a striking increase of interest, appearing in the numbers of publications in 2016-2018 and extra in the past year. More importantly, coverage of (sub)topics, issues, sectors, levels, etc. has enlarged. Research on projectification has achieved academic rigour and richness, it is reflecting different more general trends; it has been influenced by developments in related (sub)fields and in turn, influences them. Yet, such relations are not equally developed – there are several linkages with (social) entrepreneur­ship and HRM but no studies on links to financial management, including project finance, and the financial sector. Most appeared relations are expectable, but some – such as relatedness to organizational romance and organizational improvisation – may be surprising. Substantial is the appearance of ‘deprojectification’ and the fact that research on projectification has been greatly treading in Midler’s ‘footprints’.

Key words: projectification, deprojectification, project-based work, research.

JEL codes: M0, M5, L20.


In 1995 the Scandinavian Journal of Management dedicated an issue to Project Management and Temporary Organizations. This special issue included several outstanding articles. The most cited is Lundin and Söderholm (1995) where they outlined a theory of temporary organization. In another seminal work, Midler (1995) introduced a novel notion of projectification, denoting the ongoing (and seemingly accelerating) phenomenon that deserves increasing interest in academic research.

This year (2020) the project management research community can celebrate. During the past quarter of century, this research field has significantly evolved, thus it is not possible to reflect all relevant matters in one paper. To stay in the limits of a conference paper and considering the presence of similar (including quite recent) studies, this work does not tend to provide another all-encompassing overview on projectification. This paper scrutinizes the developments in projectification research, focusing on emerged (and still emerging) trends and streams. Using a loosely structured methodology, combining historical and content analysis, this work intends to assess the initial source(s) and/or roots of a particular trend or stream, and concentrating on the latest developments, to ascertain its most current ‘end state’. Another intention is to pay attention on so far less covered trends, streams, fields and sectors, etc., including both positive and negative implications of projectification, as well as on possible over-projectification (c.f. Lundin, 2016).


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 9th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States at the University of Latvia in April 2020 and published in the journal “Project Management Development – Practice and Perspectives”, ISSN 2256-0513.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers

How to cite this paper: Kuura, A. (2020); 25 Years of Projectification Research; presented at the 9th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2020; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VIII, August.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/pmwj96-Aug2020-Kuura-25-years-of-projectification-research.pdf



About the Author

Arvi Kuura

Pärnu, Estonia



Arvi Kuura (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Project Management at Pärnu College of University of Tartu (Estonia). His research interests include management of projects and processes, also services. His main contributions (especially together with Rolf Lundin) deal with linking of different disciplines. Arvi Kuura is a long term program committee member and session chair for the International Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic Countries organized by the Research Institute of the Project Management of the Faculty of Business, Management and Economics, University of Latvia and the Professional Association of Project Managers, Latvia.

Arvi Kuura can be contacted at Arvi.Kuura@ut.ee.