Building on Chaos


Public Sector Project Management

in Post-Conflict Countries



By Mohamad-Fadl Haraké

Poitiers, France


This study examines the project management dynamic of non-governmental transnational entities that are referred to as ‘’Public Entrepreneurs’’ who are participating in the re-building of the public sector in post-conflict countries. The research highlights the significance of post-conflict peacebuilding through the resurrection of old public institutions as well as the initiation of new ones by the means of entrepreneurial initiatives. In this context, we decided to review the current project management work dynamic of transnational organizations working to rebuild post-conflict public sectors. Our revisions indicate the many challenges faced in managing public-sector projects in a post-conflict environment as well as the efforts made to overcome these obstacles. This study contributes to existing literature on the many methods and tools that have proven useful in public sector project management. This research addresses a specific environment that is not usually a mainstream topic in project management, which is the post-conflict one. The study adopts the chaos theory as a conceptual framework to further understand the unpredictable and unstable post-conflict environment initial condition’s impact on project outcomes. The paper offers a new managerial perspective that aims to enable public-sector project managers take the actions necessary to create project deliverables that meet socio-organizational needs.

KEYWORDS: Post-conflict environment; Project Management; Public Sector; Public Entrepreneurship


The agreed upon definition of project management can be outlined as the achievement of project objectives through implicated experts and involving the organization, planning and control of resources assigned to the project (Harrison, 2017). Thus, project management can be considered as the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team (taskforce) to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time (Phillips, 2003). On another note, it is still considered a relatively modern practice that aims to attain planned objectives within a specified timeframe and cost limits through the optimum use of available resources while employing an integrated planning and control system (Abbasi & Al-Mharmah, 2000).

Implementing project management principles in the Public Sector is not a recent concept nor was it poorly treated, but it remains, nevertheless, in rather much of its perspectives subject to marginalization, misunderstanding, and even ambiguity. Public sector entities are currently facing an ever-increasing pressure from stakeholders and taxpayers to demonstrate accountability and transparency when implementing policies and adapting to change (Crawford & Helm, 2009). The need to implement project management as a means of planning and organizing work within the public sector is considered a pre-requisite for legitimizing any potential public policy.

The evolution of public management models as well as the various institutional reforms put into place with the aim of making public entities more competitive while guaranteeing quality public service, have all been impacted by the change in the institutional logic (Bernier, 2012). Such change was initiated by ‘’Public Entrepreneurs’’ who created new practices that they sought to legitimize as explicit norms (Moore, 1995). Such practices aim to create new public services or improve the efficiency of existing ones. Public sector projects will require appropriate skills and techniques that go beyond technical expertise as in the works of private entities; however, they are rather conditioned by ideological as well as political decisions rather than on project management decision making tools (Pūlmanis, 2014; Chevallier, 2019). According to economists, the distribution of public resources by political entities affects their future, hence the interdependence between socioeconomic equity and these institutions (Gibbons, 2005; Wolfrum, 2005). According to sociologists, a country’s history and culture will condition the extent to which its public institutions address issues of social cohesion and express their management process (Jun, 1986; Greene, 2004; Dahl-Ostergaard et al., 2005; Ajakaiye & Ali, 2009; Narayan & Petesch, 2010). Also, the evolution of existing socio-political arrangements and conditions is crucial to understanding the possibilities of change (Jun, 1986; Pierson, 2004). We therefore understand that the public administration of each society is not limited to the principles of technical duty but is effectively linked to several environmental contexts which frame its particularities (Arrington & Sawaya, 1984; Wolfrum, 2005; Narayan & Petesch, 2010).

In almost all cases, the adoption of any new form of change model with its accompanying projects has been met with resistance as any proposed model can lead to the deinstitutionalization of the old public administration (Pesqueux, 2006) which can even contest the state’s mission as is (Bezes et al, 2011). But what is the case of countries where the state is paralyzed and cannot serve the interests of the citizens? And more precisely, what is the case of post-conflict countries where violent acts have either paralyzed or annihilated the existing public sector? Within the chaos of a post-war environment, the reconstruction project of the post-conflict public sector championed by public entrepreneurs will be a complex and difficult task.

In this study, the following dilemma was examined thoroughly to answer the following question: How can we explain the dynamic of post-conflict public project management?

This study sort to examine the public sector’s project management dynamic of the works conducted by the involved transnational entities currently operating in post-conflict environments. The paper outlines the mechanism of the operational processes of their work. The study also provides a conceptual framework for understanding and analyzing the emergence the new institutional logic that was injected and how it has impacted the public sector.


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How to cite this paper: Haraké, M.F. (2021). Building on Chaos: Public Sector Project Management in Post-Conflict Countries; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Harake-building-on-chaos-featured-paper.pdf


About the Author

Mohamad-Fadl Haraké

Poitiers, France


Mohamad-Fadl Haraké is a Doctoral Researcher at CEREGE EA 1722, University of Poitiers (IAE). He has been affiliated to academic bodies based in France, Spain, and Lebanon. He is also the general secretary of the Académie de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (ARGE) and co-director of the Centre de Recherche Francophone en Economie et Gestion (CREFEGE). His research interests mainly focus on Strategic Management, Public Management Modeling, Operations’ Project Management, Organizational Theory as well as Chaos Theory (the predictability of deterministic non-linear systems’ behavior in complex – unstable environments) in Post-Conflict Countries. He can be contacted at m.f.harake@crefege.com or mohamed.fadl.harake@univ-poitiers.fr